Mark 9:2-8 – The Transfiguration


Mark 9:2-8


In the culmination of Jesus’ discourse on what it means for him to be the Messiah, he visits with Moses and Elijah and God confirms his authority.


In the preceding two episodes centered around Caesarea Philippi, Jesus began to explain to his disciples the heavenly nature of the Messiah. After Peter’s confession, he distinguishes between earthly ways of thinking about the messiah and God’s way of thinking, making sure that they know that his path leads to death and resurrection. He makes the same point to the crowds, calling them to choose earthly humiliation instead of heavenly humiliation at the last judgment. Finally, God confirms Jesus’ statements in the Transfiguration.

On the mountain, Jesus meets and speaks with Moses and Elijah. The appearance of these two important figures from the Old Testament can be interpreted in multiple ways. One is to see them as the embodiment of the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah), an expression often used to indicate all of Scripture. Another possibility is that they represent the first of Israel’s prophets (Moses) and the last (Elijah), all of whom have prepared the way for Jesus the Messiah. Either way, their presence confirms that Jesus stands as the culmination of Israelite religion and hopes. God’s voice speaks from the clouds to reiterate this point. While the words echo the ripping of the heavens at Jesus’ baptism (Mark 1:11), an additional detail is added: “Listen to him,” a command that takes on added importance in light of the growing opposition to Jesus.