The Mountaintop Experience and the Surprising Light

Scripture Readings: 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 & Mark 9: 2-9

Historically and sadly, many people have lost track in their Christian journey. Today, however, we stand at the place of divine revelation, looking up the mountaintop experience of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the scriptures, we are guided through 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 and Mark 9:2-9, where we witness the unveiling of a surprising light, illuminating the very essence of God’s glory and the fragility of our human vessels.

2 Corinthians 4:3-6 speak about how the minds of unbelievers are veiled, preventing them from seeing the light of the gospel. It also describes believers as having treasure, the light of the gospel, in jars of clay, emphasizing the fragility and imperfection of human vessels.

The apostle Paul speaks of the light of the knowledge of God’s glory shining in our hearts. This light, like a treasure, is contained within fragile jars of clay – our imperfect human vessels. We are reminded of our inherent weaknesses, yet within us resides the divine spark, the very essence of God’s glory waiting to be revealed.

In Mark’s Gospel, we journey with Peter, James, and John to the mountaintop where they witness Jesus transfigured before them. His glory outshines the sun, revealing his true divinity. The disciples are confronted with Jesus’ outclassing glory and light when they see Jesus transfigured. It is a moment of divine revelation, as the disciples come face to face with the radiant majesty of their Lord.

During the Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appear and converse with Jesus, symbolizing the continuity between the Law and the Prophets with Jesus as the fulfillment of both. Peter suggests building shelters for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, not fully understanding the significance of what he witnessed.

The disciples demonstrate their spiritual blindness by failing to fully comprehend Jesus’ teachings and predictions of his death and resurrection. Mark’s gospel illustrates the disciples’ gradual understanding of Jesus’ identity and mission.

The Transfiguration is a significant moment of enlightenment for the disciples. Witnessing Jesus transfigured in heavenly glory and hearing God’s voice declare Jesus as His loving Son deepened the disciples’ understanding of Jesus’ role as the suffering Messiah who would be glorified.

In Mark 9:2, a cloud overshadows them, and a voice from the cloud declares Jesus as God’s beloved Son, instructing the disciples to listen to him. In Mark 8 and this dazzling display, Jesus speaks of his coming suffering, death, and resurrection. He foretells the path of sacrifice that he must walk, reminding us that even in the face of suffering, the Father’s honour, glory, and power belong to him.

The prediction of Jesus’ death and resurrection indirectly implies the impermanence of earthly life and the vulnerability of human existence. The Transfiguration, which occurs “six days later,” contrasts with this impermanence by providing a sight of the everlasting and unchanging nature of God’s glory as shown in Christ. It reminds the disciples that, while Jesus will suffer and die, He is ultimately the eternal Son of God who transcends human mortality.

As they were coming down from the mountaintop, Jesus instructs his disciples to keep silent about what they have seen until he has risen from the dead. It is a lesson in patience, in trusting in God’s timing, for even in the darkest moments, the light of resurrection awaits.

Yet, even as we enjoy the glow of divine revelation, we are confronted with the reality of spiritual blindness. Like the Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus’ time, we can become blind to the light that surrounds us. We must open our hearts and minds to receive the enlightenment that God offers, allowing his light to penetrate the darkest corners of our souls.

The same God who commanded light to shine out of darkness has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory. God pulls back the veil from our minds and invites us to be transfigured with Christ. When we are heading down the mountain after our own mountaintop experience with Christ, may we take up our cross and follow Jesus in our faith journeys.

It is one of prayer topics that we will continue to be given new insights into who Jesus is, so that He may be transfigured in our spiritual eyes, and we may be converted to a fuller and deeper life in his mercy and love.

The imagery of jars of clay in 2 Corinthians and the temporary nature of the Transfiguration scene in Mark emphasize the transient nature of human existence in contrast to the eternal and unchanging nature of God’s glory.

In today’s text, Jesus’ future includes crucifixion, yet God’s glory also belongs to him. God’s glory is revealed in a profound and unexpected way. Through the transformative power of encountering the divine revelation, may we recognize and respond to God’s revelation in our lives. The transfiguration of Jesus reveals his true glory. May we embrace the mountaintop experience as a reminder of God’s glory shining within us.

Jesus identifies disciples as those who follow Him and are prepared to suffer for the Lord and His kingdom, as well as those who have the light of Christ to share with others and the courage to march into Jesus’ glory. May we carry this light into the world as His disciples, illuminating the path for others to follow.

High on the mountain, in a moment of splendour, Jesus was indeed clothed in the dazzling light of God. The heavenly mystery was unveiled but veiled again on the cross. However, it will be revealed again in an empty tomb and the glorious light of a resurrection.

We, Christians, are not called to exhibit a passive love that simply tries to be good and avoid evil. We, Jesus’ disciples, can boldly march for God’s love and righteousness through a love that refuses worldly power of domination, exploitation, greed, and deception.

The Christian life needs to have a balance between being alone on a mountainside with God and serving others in the valley or ground. Jesus’ transfiguration transforms us by removing or replacing our biased or limited vision in our lives. The story is a call to affirm the truth of God’s way of salvation and to live out the gospel with all our heart, soul, and strength in the surprising light of Christ.

God urges us to listen to Jesus, the self-sacrificing Messiah who is willing to suffer and die to save us. May we listen to the voice of the Father, who declares, “This is my son, listen to him.” For in Jesus Christ, we find the true source of light and life everlasting. May the surprising light of God’s glory continue to shine brightly in our hearts, now and forevermore.

This week on Ash Wednesday 14th February, we begin the walk of the cross as God’s children and Jesus’ disciples. May we be on our way to the cross through listening to Him, living out the Gospel, and shining the light of Christ. Whatever we do or wherever we go, may we walk with Jesus all the time.

Thanks be to God! Amen!

(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)