The picture is dawn from Mount Sinai.
For this week, I am continuing my post on my sermon for this last Sunday. Just for fun. So if you’ve joined in today, then read the text: Mark 9:14-29 [The story of the Father whose son has been gripped by terror.] And read the introduction: HERE.
I have but three reflections from Mark 9:
1. Jesus enters our lives as they really are.
2. Jesus powerfully speaks to our terrors and pains.
3. Jesus tenderly addresses our faithful doubts.
Today, I give you Reflection #1. Questions, comments, helpful critiques are welcome. [Thanks Rhea!]
1. Jesus enters our lives as they really are: Confused and complex and messy.
Look at V 14-16
What’s happening here? Jesus is entering an already existing moment. He is gate-crashing an argument. And the argument has been going on for enough time for Mark to note that a crowd has gathered. V14. ‘A great crowd’, in fact. And like many who wonder into a conversation, he says: V16 -- “What’s the argument about?” I’m up for debate. I’d like to know what’s going on.
In my research this week, I realized something that I’d not seen before: Mark places two events deliberately together: the transfiguration of Jesus and the story of the torment of this father. They are being overlapped. [Luke records that is was the next day, whereas Mark and Matthew more deliberately overlap the events.]
Here is what I think is happening: One extraordinary thing is happening up on a high mountain. And at the same time, one ordinary thing is happening at the foot of the mountain.
First, one extraordinary thing is up on a high mountain: Jesus is transfigured [in the preceding verses] on a high mountain, enveloped in a cloud, and declared with roaring approval to be God’s beloved Son. Does that sound similar to what happened up on Mt Sinai in Exodus 19?
Here is a thought about the transfiguration: You might be cynical. You may be tempted to think of Jesus as simply an historical figure that launched a thousand bumper stickers; or a pathetic figure that inspired a million bad worship songs; or worse- The figure head of the 50 million ‘militant’ evangelicals. The transfiguration will not let you keep your cynicism. In the transfiguration, we are invited to see what our senses may not tell us: that Jesus is God’s glorious Messiah. And if you met him today as he really is, you may be flattened by his glory.
One extraordinary thing is happening on the mountain.
And one very ordinary argument is happening down at the foot of the Mountain. Just like
You see what is happening in Mark 9? Overlapping the truth [that Jesus is Lord of Heaven and Earth] is life at the foot of the mountain [A man enduring pain and suffering, and a bunch of people fighting and arguing about it.]
And Jesus comes right into that moment and asks:
"What are you arguing about?"
“Let me in on that argument.”
“Let me into your real life.”
“What’s the debate going on in your head?
“What’s the debate going on in your communities?”
“Let me speak to it.”