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Related Bible reading(s): Mark 9.2-9

Bible study on Mark 9.2-9

This study can be used by a small family/ household group, or by an online group, or – sometimes with a little adaptation - by an individual.

See our Guidelines for a weekly Bible study

Begin with an opening prayer

Almighty God, we ask you to show us something more
of who you are and how awesome your presence is.
Overcome our fear of the unknown,
and lead us into a new experience of you.
May our worship today be as on a mountain-top,
a transforming encounter that empowers our discipleship.
Amen.

 

Read the passage

Consider different ways to read the text. For example, hearing it in more than one version of the Bible.

In an online group, you could share parts between those present, or use/adapt this week’s Share the Word suggestion: Use the Jump to this week's menu on the right to go to Share the Word and scroll down to find the Gospel reading.

 

Explore and respond to the text

Start by reading the Bible notes below. You may want to read them more than once, or pause after each paragraph to reflect on what you have read.

 

Bible notes

The setting of this story is on a high mountain. This tells Mark’s hearers straight away that something remarkable is about to happen. God meets Elijah (1 Kings 19.8) and Moses (Exodus 19:3) on the mountaintop. And the revelation could not have come at a more appropriate time. Jesus has just turned the disciples’ thinking upside down. Peter found words to articulate who Jesus is: ‘You are the Messiah’ (8.29). Jesus accepts this, but then tells them of his forthcoming suffering and death. He fiercely rebukes Peter’s incredulity (8.33), but the disciples must have found it impossible to grasp this unimaginable future. Suddenly, there is tragedy ahead, but the glory of Jesus’ true being is also revealed to them.

This story is told from the perspective of the disciples. They see Jesus, changed in ways they can only describe by saying that his clothes became brilliantly white. They see two of the greatest figures from the history of Israel speaking to Jesus as equals. And they are terrified! Peter stammers out words that reveal his yearning for this moment to go on for ever. He must have regretted the words as soon as they left his mouth – yet what words could be adequate to this experience? Peter’s stumbling words are eclipsed by the voice of God. Cloud comes down on the mountain – Jewish tradition linked the cloud and the glory of God (Exodus 40.34) – and from the cloud, God speaks. God’s words at Jesus’ baptism (1.11) were spoken to Jesus, but these are addressed to the disciples. God’s voice gives the disciples the words to make sense of what they have seen – this has happened because Jesus really is the Son of God – and they are reassured that they should listen to him. Finally, as they return to ‘real life’ at the foot of the mountain, Jesus tells them to share this with no one, picking up on Mark’s theme of secrecy until the full revelation of Jesus’ identity in the crucifixion.

See also:

In conversation with the Scriptures

 

Reflection

Spend a few moments thinking about what stands out for you from the Bible reading. This idea may help.

Peter’s response to the presence of Moses and Elijah shows how much he longs to hold on to this special moment. On this mountaintop, he wants to find the resources to build dwellings, so that they can stay together as God stayed with the people in the tabernacle in the desert. It was never going to happen that way; this was a moment of fleeting brilliance. But human beings yearn to embody their faith in bricks and mortar, and many of our churches bear witness to this passion to give concrete expression to our moments of wonder. How can we balance our glimpses of God’s glory with our desire for stability?

 

Questions for reflection

You may wish to use these questions and the picture to help you think about or discuss issues arising from this week’s Bible passage.

  • How well does this image illustrate your experience of ‘wow’ moments?
  • What experiences have been most transformative in your life?
  • How do you feel about ‘coming back down the mountain’ after a ‘wow’ moment?

 

A simple worship activity

Encountering God

Invite people to close their eyes and imagine God entering your building in person, and coming to the front of your worship space.

Play some wordless music in the background, while someone reads Psalm 50.1-6 boldly and slowly, twice over.

Let the music continue for a minute or so after the psalm is finished, to allow people to engage with God in their own way.

Use the Jump to this week's menu on the right to go to more activities
in Explore and respond

 

Prayer

Adapt to your local context.

A prayer of thanksgiving
O God, you have always been with us.
Thank you for the times when we have felt close to you.
Thank you for guiding our steps.
Thank you for being close even when we did not know it.
Thank you for the people and places that have helped us to draw close to you.
Thank you for each facet of your character that we have glimpsed.
Amen.

 

Use the Jump to this week's menu on the right to find more prayers,
including up-to-date intercessions.

 

A prayer to end the Bible study

Lord Jesus, raise our expectations
of what it means to encounter God
not just in this place but in every place,
in all the places we shall be in the day ahead.
Help us every day to discover something new
about God’s ways, about what God wants of us –
and change the way we see the world,
and the way we act.
Amen.

 

Go with God 24/7

Encourage everyone to put their faith into action.

Try and put your most recent experience(s) of God into words: either by sharing with a friend, or by writing down on paper or in a diary.

 

Encourage everyone to explore their faith this week with the ROOTS at home resource.

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