“Listen to Him”

Mark 9:2-9

11 February 2018

Transfiguration of the Lord

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

East Rochester & West Walworth: Zion United Methodist Churches


Mark 9:2-9

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.

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.




Transfiguration of the Lord

Serves as the right-hand bookend

To the liturgical season sandwiched between

The Epiphany, or manifestation, of the Lord, on the left,

And Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of Lent,

Some five to nine Sundays later, on the right.


To know where one is headed,

It is important to know where one has been.


From the birth of Jesus and the angelic proclamation,

“To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior,

who is the Messiah, the Lord.”

(Luke 2:11)

To the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River,

Complete with the inbreaking and descent of the Holy Spirit

Complimented by the voice of God,

“You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11)

Our Gospel authors

(all four of them) make it crystal clear

That Jesus is the

Beloved Son of God,

A Savior,

A Messiah.


At the Transfiguration of the Lord

The Lord’s words of confirmation are surprisingly similar,

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

(Mark 9:7)

Beloved Son.




Listen to him!



Ah, if ever there is a time to pay attention to Jesus

It’s when God tells us to listen!


Pay attention!

Watch and listen.

Take in all that God is revealing today.

Take it all in.


The time of Jesus’ Galilean ministry was coming to an end.

He had been itinerating from town to town,

Preaching with authority,

Casting out demons,

Healing the sick,

And attracting huge numbers of followers.

Galilee had been saturated with Jesus.

Jesus didn’t have ten or twenty percent market penetration.

Jesus was nearing one hundred.

Everyone was amazed at his teaching.

Everyone was absolutely convinced by his miracles. 

No one questioned his identity or his authority.


It was time to pivot.

It was time to wheel South, and head for Jerusalem.


Jesus ascended a Galilean mountain,

Bringing with him Peter, James, and John.

They weren’t brought there for the spectacular view

(Although the Sea of Galilee probably never looked better).

Look who showed up:

Elijah and Moses.

They do not symbolize prophecy and law

As some well-meaning but uninformed have proposed.

Their presence is the apocalyptic that every Jew anticipated,

The sign that this age was coming to conclusion.


The race had been run

And Jesus was on the final lap.

It was time for Jesus to fulfill our Father’s will.

It was time to bring the old world to an apocalyptic conclusion,

And to usher in a new world filled with hope and promise.


It is not as if Jesus didn’t give his disciples warning.

Immediately prior to the Transfiguration,

Peter declared publicly who Jesus was,

“You are the Messiah.”

(Mark 8:29)

Jesus harshly rebukes him,

And immediately turns right around

And teaches his disciples with Divine authority

That he will suffer, die, and rise again.

After today,

Jesus will repeat this important lesson,

As recorded in Mark, two more times.


Do not be naive!


Listen to him!

Believe in what Jesus has to say.


The journey to the cross will be dark and dangerous.

The journey to the cross starts with suffering.

The journey to the cross ends with death,

A cruel, public, humiliating execution.


Messiah was the apocalyptic conclusion hoped for by many faithful Jews of the day.

The coming of Messiah, it was believed,

Was the fulfillment of Hebrew prophecy.

The title Messiah communicated optimism.

It was the tipping point

When the Roman and it’s legions of soldiers

Would be beaten like a junkyard dog.

The Roman era would be replaced

By a political savior,

Ushering in a Messianic era,

Where suffering would be ended and death would be no more.

The new era,

This post-apocalyptical era would be called

The Kingdom of God.


You can’t get to resurrection without first being sealed in a tomb.


Beloved Son.



Listen to him!

Take it all in!


The spotlight is on Jesus today

And he is lit up like the Los Vegas strip.

The light that transfigures his appearance

Is given to us as a gift of grace.

God’s gift is meant to sustain us for the journey throughout Lent,

As we descend from illumination on the mountain in the North,

Traveling with Jesus into the land of passion and shadows,

Which come to an end in darkness

On that Southern hill named Calvary.


When there is no light

Let the light of God sustain you!


The spotlight on Jesus

Might be the only memory,

Might be the only hope remaining,

At the end of our forthcoming 40-day journey.


Let transfiguration light guide you!


When they tear his lifeless body from the cross

And slide his corpse to the stone slab

For washing, preparation, and burial

All other light in the cosmos will be extinguished.

The wisp of a memory,

The near extinguished light of transfiguration,

Makes it possible to endure

His journey to death and burial.


Drink in his light!

Drink in God’s grace until you can fill no more!



This is transfiguration’s promise:

God’s light that completely transformed Jesus’ countenance

On that Galilean mountainside

Is the same Divine light that

Will release the resurrected Jesus from his garden tomb.


Allow the light of God

To bring you through suffering and death.

Allow the light of God

To lead you to resurrection and eternal life.


“Listen to him,”

(Mark 9:7)

Our heavenly Father commands us.

Listen to him for he speaks with authority.



Be still.

Allow Jesus to speak in your life.

Take it all in;

All that he says, and

All that he does.

Take it all in.


Though the future path is painful,

We can, and will, endure.

Jesus is the way and the truth and the light

That leads to resurrection.