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Transfiguring Power

Updated: Jul 2




Rev. Rob Jones                                                                                                       February 6, 2024


2 Kings 2:1-12 NRSVue

2 Now, when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So, they went down to Bethel. 3 The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.”

4 Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So, they came to Jericho. 5 The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; keep silent.” 6 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So, the two of them went on. 7 Fifty men of the company of prophets also went and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. 8 Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and the two of them crossed on dry ground. 9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” 10 He responded, “You have asked a hard thing, yet if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” 11 As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. 12 Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

 

Mark9:2-9 NRSV ue

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling bright, such as no one on earth could brighten 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 set up three tents: 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!” 8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, 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.

 

Prayer

Oh God, quieten my mind at this time and open my heart. Allow me to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance to seek Your wisdom. Amen

 

Power Beyond Power

In both the Book of Mark and the Book of Kings, the power of God is a central theme. In Mark 9:2-9, we witness the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain, where he is revealed in his full glory to three of his disciples. In 2 Kings 2:1-12, we see the passing of the mantle of prophetic leadership from Elijah to Elisha, symbolizing the continuation of God's power and presence in the world.

 

In 2 Kings 2:1-12, we witness a moment of divine power as Elijah passes the mantle of prophetic leadership to Elisha. Elijah knows that his time on earth is coming to an end, and he tells Elisha to stay behind while he travels to Bethel, Jericho, and the Jordan River. But Elisha refuses to leave his mentor’s side, insisting on accompanying him wherever he goes. When they reach the Jordan River, Elijah strikes the water with his mantle (or cloak) and its parts, allowing them to cross on dry ground. This show of divine power is reminiscent of Moses parting the Red Sea and Joshua parting the Jordan (Jesus walks on water, and prophets separate the water). Then Elijah asks Elisha what he can do for him before he is taken up into heaven. And Elisha asks for a double portion of Elijah's spirit. Elijah tells him that this is a complex request but that if he sees him being taken up, then it will be granted to him. And so, as Elijah is taken up in a chariot of fire, Elisha sees it and cries out, "Father, Father! (Hebrew: אָב ’ [āb]) The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" And then he picks up Elijah's mantle and strikes the water, and it parts, just as it had done for Elijah. The power of God had been transferred to the next generation.

 

The passing of the mantle from Elijah to Elisha marks a significant moment in the continuity of God's prophetic leadership. It signifies the transfer of divine power and authority from one generation to the next, demonstrating that God's work in the world is not reliant on any single individual but rather on the ongoing presence and power of God's spirit working through those who are faithful and obedient to God’s call. This event serves as a reminder that God's power is not constrained by time or space but rather is always present and active in the world through those who are willing to be used by him.

 

In Mark 9:2-9, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up to a high mountain, and there he is transfigured before them. His face shines like the sun, and his clothes become dazzling white. Then Moses and Elijah appear, talking with Jesus, again showing the continuation of God’s power. Peter is so overwhelmed by this sight that he suggests building three tents for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, but even as he speaks, a cloud overshadows them, and a voice comes from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!" Suddenly, when Peter, James, and John look around, they see only the transfigured Jesus, who tells them not to tell anyone about what they have seen until after he has risen from the dead.

 

This moment on the mountain is a powerful demonstration of the divine power of Jesus as the Son of God. The transfiguration reveals Jesus in his true essence, as the one who has come from God to bring salvation to the world. The presence of Moses and Elijah signifies the continuity between the Law, the Prophets, and the person of Jesus. Remember, Jesus says he came to fulfill the law. The cherry on top that finishes this powerful scene is the voice from the cloud that affirms Jesus as the beloved Son of God, who is to be listened to and obeyed. The Transfiguration is a moment of revelation and epiphany, where the disciples are given a glimpse of the hidden glory of Jesus. It is a moment that affirms Jesus' identity and mission and prepares the disciples for the challenges and trials that lie ahead. It is a moment that reminds us of the power and majesty of God, who is able to transform and transfigure even the most ordinary of human beings into vessels of divine grace and truth.

 

Reformed theology asserts the sovereignty and power of God in all aspects of life. According to the reformed theologian Carl Barth, God is the supreme ruler of all creation, governing everything according to his will. Barth highlights the transcendence and immanence of God, who is both entirely separate from and intimately present in the world. God's power exceeds human understanding and control, being boundless and everlasting, surpassing all human comprehension. Barth also stresses the significance of revelation in comprehending God's power. Both in the transfiguration of Jesus and the passing of the mantle from Elijah to Elisha, God reveals himself in a compelling and transformative manner. These moments of revelation are not merely demonstrations of divine power but are indications and representations of God's continuing presence and continuing purpose in the world. Today’s lessons serve as two reminders that God's power is constantly active in the world. We should understand that even when we are unable to see or understand God’s plan, God is still working all around us.

 

The power of God in Mark 9:2-9 and 2 Kings 2:1-12 shows the sovereignty and majesty of God, who can transform and transfigure all things according to His will. These passages remind us that human limitations or expectations do not limit God's power. God is always at work, shaping and directing all things towards his divine purpose, as Paul attests in Ephesians 3:20: "Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine." What Jesus did was more potent than the scenes containing Elisha, Peter, John, and James, as attested to us by Paul. He did what was only done by God before with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David; he instituted a new covenant with his followers. With Jesus, we see not only the perpetual power of God throughout history but must understand in establishing a new covenant through the power of God; as shown during the transfiguration, we know that Jesus is more than those that came before; he is God. Jesus is the culmination of the prophets, the fulfillment of the Law, and the final Word from God about salvation. Jesus' transfiguration solidifies his role as the Son of God and the embodiment of the new covenant, demonstrating the continuity of God's power and plan throughout history. This is something to consider when we decide how to proceed in our lives. Will we concede that we are Christians, followers of Jesus, Emanuel God with us, and bow down in submission to that power, or are we something else? Is the power of God, shown throughout history, a power that transforms us into a new creation, as Paul says, or will we deny that the grace that God freely gives us in the actions of Jesus, who was transfigured on the mountain, crucified on the cross, and raised from the tomb to defeat death itself just for us? Is the power of God enough for you?

 

In the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. AMEN.

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