As I’m going through chapters 8, 9 and 10 of Mark I feel as if there is so much information here to take in. Yesterday I was reading about the transfiguration and it seemed so important to really understand what that was and what was happening that I ended up cross referencing the rest of the gospels to read each version and doing some research online about it.
Webster’s dictionary defines the word transfigure as follows:
to give a new and typically exalted or spiritual appearance to : transform outwardly and usually for the better
For those of you who don’t know about or haven’t read about the transfiguration of Jesus, it comes at a point when Jesus is wrapping up his ministry in Galilee and is making ready for his journey to Jerusalem, and the death and resurrection that is waiting there for him. Prior to this he takes three disciples, Peter, James and John with him up onto a mountain to pray. One of the commentaries I was reading, talked about the fact that Jesus was probably praying for his disciples, knowing the challenges that they were going to soon be facing to their faith.
While they are on that mountain, these three men (I think they must have been the disciples closest to Jesus) were given a special blessing. For a moment they saw Jesus “transfigured before them His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters – one for you one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud; “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
These three disciples were given the gift of seeing Jesus on earth, clothed in all of his heavenly glory and they were frightened. So scared that they didn’t know what to do or say. How many times are we like that in our own faith journeys? How many times, when God is about to reveal himself to us, or when we are given a special blessing from God, do we pull back because it makes us scared or uncomfortable? We want to God to stay where we are comfortable. I think that’s what Peter was trying to do when he is suddenly confronted with the sight of these two men, who for him were pillars of his faith, and the transformed son of God. He tried to shrink them down, to put them into a place where he felt comfortable. And God interrupted him. He told Peter to stop talking and start listening!
As Jesus and three disciples come down off that mountain a boy is brought to Jesus who is possessed by an evil spirit that the other disciples could not drive out. And there are several very powerful things said here (or at least for me they were). The father asks Jesus to take pity on them and heal his son, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Note the word “if”. This man has come with his son to Jesus for healing, but he still isn’t sure. Jesus responds by saying “If you can? Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:23,24
Haven’t we have all had this moment at points in our journeys? I certainly have. We ask God for help with a question in our hearts; “If you can”. Maybe that’s where Peter was at on that mountain top. He believed and yet maybe there was a small part of him that couldn’t really believe this was actually happening and that’s why he needed to be told by God to just listen. This sounds like something I can absolutely relate to. There are times, even when our faith is strong, when we need help to overcome our unbelief, times when we need to stop talking and just listen. Times when we need to stop being afraid and just let God in.
We also see this idea reflected in the question of the other disciples when they ask Jesus why they couldn’t drive out the demon from the boy and heal him as they had been able to heal others. Jesus responded that “This kind can come out only by prayer.” The disciples had forgotten to let God into what they were doing. They had forgotten the most fundamental part of faith – prayer and that all miracles (like the transfiguration of Jesus) are accomplished not because of our own greatness, but through prayer and the greatness and power of God.
So maybe today is the day you sit down and pray. Maybe today you are asking God for a miracle (big or small). Or maybe you are asking him to help you with your unbelief – but whatever it is in your heart to put before the Lord, take the “if you can” out of your heart when you do it, and then stop talking and allow God to speak.