The Transfiguration

The Transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9.2-9)

transfigurationJesus went up a high mountain, with Peter, James and John. Maybe they knew something special might happen – mountain tops were places of mystery.
As they watched Jesus, he was transformed before their very eyes, and shone like the sun. They were dazzled. And suddenly Jesus was not alone – standing with him were Moses and Elijah.   The disciples were overwhelmed.  Peter didn’t know what to say, so he started talking about making three shelters, one for Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah.
Then, a cloud came and covered everything, and out of the cloud came a voice – it was the voice of God: “This is my Son, my beloved. Listen to him!”
All at once the cloud lifted and it was just Jesus standing there, looking just as he always looked.  He told his friends, “You mustn’t talk about what you’ve seen just now – wait until I’ve died and risen again, then you can tell the world!”

What’s the story about?

  • The disciples knew Jesus as their friend and teacher, and they had seen him do many miracles, but in this story they glimpse him as God – it’s just after this story that Peter has the courage to say to Jesus, ‘You are the Messiah!’
  • Elijah was the most famous prophet of Old Testament Times, and Moses was the one who had gone up Mount Sinai to get the Ten Commandments. Together they represent the Law and the Prophets – everything that Jesus and his disciples valued about their religious tradition. In this story, God shows that in Jesus he is doing a new thing, but it’s a think that’s completely in continuity with the past.

Things to think about

  • rainbowSome experiences are so awesome, or so strange, or so overwhelming that we can’t put them into words.  Have you ever seen or experienced something that was hard to put into words, or was so beautiful it took you breath away and you wanted to keep it for ever?
  • Some of the most beautiful things only last a moment – a sunset, a rainbow, beads of dew on a leaf or on a spiders’ web… We can’t keep them for ever, but we can let ourselves feel awe and wonder.
  • When adults see a child they haven’t seen for a long time, they always say, ‘Wow, haven’t you grown!’ or if someone dresses up smartly for a special occasion others may say, ‘You scrub up well!’ – the same person can suddenly look different from normal and make us see them afresh.

Activities to try at home or in church

  • Jesus optical illusionLook at some optical illusions – pictures that you can see in more than one way. There is a particularly good one of Jesus’ face.  Stare at the four small dots for 30 seconds without blinking, and then look at a white surface and blink rapidly – what do you see?
  • Get hold of a holographic bookmark or picture (those images that seem to move depending on what angle you are looking at). Think about how things can look the same for ages and then look different.
  • Draw on paper with a wax candle or with a white wax crayon, and then use a sponge to spread thin paint over the paper – your drawing, which was invisible, suddenly becomes visible, just like the disciples suddenly saw the glory of God made visible in Jesus.
  • Fold a piece of ordinary paper (the sort that goes in a printer) in half, and draw beautiful things on one half – rainbows, hearts, people, stripes, even scribbles. Then fold the paper over the cover the drawing.  Dip your finger in cooking oil, and draw something on the blank ‘cover page’ – the oil turns the paper transparent, so your beautiful drawing will shine through. In the same way, Jesus’ friends saw the glory of God shining out from Jesus in a way they hadn’t seen before.
  • Write out this verse, from today’s story, using lemon juice: This is my Son, my beloved. Listen to him!  The writing will be invisible, but if you put the paper in the oven for a few minutes, the message will appear – and it won’t fade away!  Sometimes when the circumstances are right, we can understand what God is saying to us clearly, and when we have heard God clearly it stays with us.