The Mountain

Each week, we look at one of the lectionary passages for the upcoming Sunday. This week, we're going to look at the Gospel Passage, Mark 9:2-9. This is actually adapted from a monologue that I did during Lent at Wieuca Road Baptist Church way back in 2006.

What was going through their heads? Peter, James, and John probably thought they were going on a simple mountain retreat with their teacher. They'd spend some time in prayer and meditation, maybe sing a few songs. If they were lucky, perhaps Jesus would teach them how he fed thousands of people with a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread.

They were not expecting this.

Jesus stood before them and there was no way they could wrap their fishermen heads around what they saw. He transformed in front of them. His clothes turned blindingly bright. Sure, they knew Jesus was powerful and they had seen some amazing things, but this? This was something on a completely different level. And that was just the beginning. The fantastic became more unbelievable.

Suddenly they saw Moses and Elijah standing beside their teacher. You have to wonder how they knew who those two were. After all, they had never seen a picture of them. Yet, in a way, the three disciples had always known Moses and Elijah. They were the heroes of their faith. These are the guys that little boys pretended to be when they were playing Exodus or Showdown at Mt. Carmel in the backyard. And there they were just chatting with their teacher like he was their old friend.

As always, Peter was the first one to speak up. How he was able to even speak, much less formulate a plan for a building project is beyond me. But Peter was ready to set up shop on that mountain. They would stay in this awesome place for as long as they needed. 

Then came the Voice that eclipsed everything else that they saw that day. I do not know what the Voice sounded like. It came in a cloud that completely surrounded them so perhaps it sounded like thunder. But maybe that was too obvious, too cliche for the Creative Genius that is God. As thoughts of awe and terror filled their heads, the Voice spoke to them.

"This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!"

And like that, it all vanished. The Heroes. The Bright Lights. The Cloud. That Voice. All they saw was Jesus. Granted, they likely saw him through the fingers that covered their face as they were in the fetal position on the ground. They were terrified. They probably wondered if they had died. Yet there was their teacher. Things were back to normal. Or at least what passed for normal since they started following him around.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus told them not to tell anyone what they saw until after the Son of Man had come back from the dead. I wonder if one of them cracked. How do you hold something like that inside you? How do you keep that a secret?

Maybe they talked with each other at night after all the rest had gone to sleep. They would sit by the fire and wonder what on earth they saw. Was it all a dream? If all this stuff that their teacher kept saying about crucifixion was true, why did he come back down the mountain? Why didn't he stay there with Moses and Elijah? But surely the stuff about the crucifixion wasn't true. How could anyone kill someone who was at the center of a moment like that.

I wonder what they thought about that experience when everything came crashing down. Did they wonder if they had made the whole thing up? Or deep down, was that memory the last thread of hope to which they clung as their world fell apart? I wonder sometimes in those few dark days if they could look to the mountain. And if they could see it, did they hear that Voice? Did they have a small ember of hope?

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