We begin this chapter, with the transfiguration of Jesus, rich with Old Testament references, particularly the story of Moses meeting with God, on the mountain in Exodus 33. Peter’s suggestion of 3 shelters, reminiscent of the Feast of Tabernacles, seemed also to point to the concept of meeting with God. A cloud appeared. (Remember the cloud that led the Israelites through the dessert?) Out of this cloud, God spoke, reminding us of the baptism of Jesus, where the voice of God confirms His love for His Son. This time, an instruction is given: “Listen to Him”… listen to the words that Jesus is to speak. Jesus, like a prophet, will speak more of his coming suffering and death.
We reflect on another story of healing – this time of a boy with what seems to be epilepsy, caused by an evil spirit. The disciples had been unable to cast out the demon; Jesus points to their lack of faith by saying that “Everything is possible for him who believes.” The boy’s father responds with a prayer that we all might relate to: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
We see Jesus continuing to mentor and teach his disciples. He again predicts his death. He addresses their desire to be great in the kingdom. He welcomes a little child and warns against leading others into sin. He speaks of hell. His teaching is challenging for his disciples – they wrestle to understand.
Jesus concludes with the challenge to be salty and at peace with each other. We feel the shift, from the miracles and teaching of the beginning of the gospel, to the mentoring and discipleship of Jesus teaching. The intensity continues, on this road to Jerusalem.