Mark 9:2-8 – The Transfiguration
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
This is one of those stories in the Gospels that just mystifies a lot of the time. What was the purpose of Jesus taking these three disciples up the mountain to show them this? What does it signify? What does Peter mean when he wants to erect three dwellings? How did they recognize the others as Moses and Elijah? The questions keep going on and on for me. This may not be the exact thing, but one piece of this story that I have always _felt_ is that this might be the closest glimpse of heaven that we have in the Gospels. There’s all kinds of books and stories about near-death or after-death experiences from people and one of the constant threads through them all is a brightness, a light that is just overwhelming and powerful. The disciples here seem to be a mixture of comforted (“Rabbi, It is good for us to be here…”) as well as terrified (who wouldn’t be?).
I wonder whether this is a bit of what one experiences when they come before God in heaven. There’s a recognition of who God is as well as others (be they Moses and Elijah or others who have died before us), but an overwhelming sense of the power and majesty that surrounds. That there’s a light, a brightness, that is unlike anything we can even come close to comparing.
I think today of people who have lost loved ones in recent days or weeks as well as dear friends of mine who are surrounding a loved one in hospice care. I pray that the comfort of the embracing light of Christ will surround them all and grant them peace.