by Laurie Gudim
So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.
– Mark 9:10
This little sentence from the story of the Transfiguration can so easily acquire a Monty Python feel. “Wot’s this ‘rising from the dead’ bit about, then?” the disciples might ask. And we can imagine the ribald humor.
I love that Mark is so clear about the fact that Jesus’ followers don’t understand at all what he is really up to. He has just asked them who they know him to be, and Peter has responded, “You are the Messiah.” He has gone on to tell them he must undergo suffering and rejection and at the end torture and death, but that he will be raised from the dead after three days. They do not understand.
Peter rebukes Jesus and Jesus rebukes Peter right back. He goes on to say that those who want to save their lives will lose them and those who lose their lives for the sake of Jesus and the gospel will save them. And six days later, they are up on a mountain top seeing their master in the company of Elijah and Moses. What does this have to do with losing one’s life or saving it?
We talk about the Transfiguration as a “mountain-top experience”, a revelation. But for the disciples it was only that in hindsight, long after Jesus’ resurrection. They came down the mountain with the same mindset with which they had gone up. What they had witnessed was awesome, certainly. But it didn’t change their perception of the kind of story they were in.
What is this rising from the dead bit about, anyway? What does it mean? Do not be quick with the doctrinal answer, because that will stop deeper awareness from overtaking you. How do these two events relate to one another – the man broken on the cross and the man in dazzling white? Do not answer with your mind. Instead open the eyes of your heart. Put yourself both on the mountain top and at the foot of the cross. What do you see? What do you feel? What do you know?
Everything we ever dreamed was important is as nothing when we discover that we live within Christ’s story.
Laurie Gudim works is a religious iconographer and writer in Fort Collins, Colorado. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.She has recently published her novel, Loving the Six-Toed Jesus, available from Amazon.