This Sunday the gospel reading was about Jesus on the top of a mountain with his disciples and a few dead guys (Moses and Elijah). Mark 9:2-9 reads:
“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah. For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is my beloved Son; listen to him. And suddenly, looking around they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.
And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.”
This tiny chunk of scripture packs a punch. It’s seven verses of awe-inspiring visual events
- Jesus leads his disciples way the heck up to the top of a mountain.
- They were in an intimate space with Jesus, away from the crowds
- The clothes on Jesus body became whiter than could be achieved by any human chemical or process.
- Two dead guys, who were extremely well known to their present company, appear.
- The two dead guys, Moses and Elijah, begin talking with Jesus.
- Peter has an idea (that I can identify with) ‘Rabbi, it is good that we are here.’ He then goes on to suggest that they camp out on the mountain top for awhile and stay.
A few weeks ago I had a blog post about wanting to read my bible in my room, by myself, holding a hot cup of coffee, listening to my favorite scented wood wick candle pop and crackle. I turn this time into an idol. I turn it into something that I believe I can use to generate my own peace. I turn it into a place I want to stay and camp out.
Peter and I have this in common. We want to stay in that beautiful place. We don’t want to head down the mountain and into the village (or into our own home) to serve our neighbor. I want to take that time and make it last.
It is good to be led by Jesus up a mountain top. It is good to watch his clothes turn to an awe-inspiring white. It is good to be dazzled by the power of Jesus. Peter is correct when he says it is good to be here. It is so good to be in the presence of Jesus. It’s good when he leads you to the top of a mountain. It is good to read scripture, to listen to a sermon, and to hear songs about the gospel.
Lutheran Service Book #414
Jesus does not allow Peter to build any tents and they do not camp out on the mountain top. Instead as soon as Moses and Elijah disappear we see ‘they were coming down the mountain.’ In the very next scene Jesus is back in the village with his disciples healing people.
After God created each piece of the world he pronounced it to be good. After he created us, in his own image, he said it was very good. God did not create us to survey and watch from a distance. He leads us up the mountain to be near him in intimacy. He leads us down the mountain and into the village to serve our neighbor.
I see posts and articles that emphasize only one side of the Christian life (especially posts and articles for a female audience). We can turn our time with scripture into some ‘magical’ idol breeding experience. We can also turn coming down the mountain and into the village to serve our neighbor into a factory where idols are created and sold in the marketplace to our neighbors; instead of just serving our neighbor.
Both are good (serving our neighbor and learning). Both are necessary. Both are lead by Jesus.