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And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them. (Mark 9:2 ESV) Today we read how Peter, James, and John caught a glimpse of Jesus’ radiant glory. As Jesus was wrapped in light before them and they heard the Father’s voice saying, “Listen to Him,” in the end Jesus Only captures all their attention and ours.

Blessed 설날 (Seollal)! This weekend we celebrate the Lunar New Year, a special time to gather as family and friends and greet one another with words of blessing. For the church around the world this is Transfiguration Sunday, the last Sunday of Epiphany, when we see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. At International Lutheran Church, we have been reading through the Gospel of Mark during this Epiphany season and seeing how Jesus is revealed as the Son of God. Today marks the climactic moment of this season of light as we see this light in Jesus Only.

Mark’s description of the account of Jesus’ transfiguration is very similar to the other gospel accounts in Matthew and Luke. But there are two notable differences. The first is that Mark only mentions the clothing of Jesus shining beyond the brightness that any worldly bleach could make them. We might think of Psalm 104:2a where the LORD is described as the One who “wraps Himself in light as with a garment.” In Jesus, even a common garment and simple clothing becomes a shining example of His transformative presence. Unlike Moses whose veiled face would hide his fading appearance, now even the veil is white beyond all natural appearance.

The second minor nuance of Mark’s Transfiguration account is the ordering of those men of faith who appeared with Jesus in His glory – Elijah and Moses. While it is true that these pillars of the Old Testament symbolize both the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah) and their own witness to the One who would fulfill both, to place Elijah first seems to emphasize the glory of the Lord that appeared at the end of Elijah’s ministry in “the still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12 ESV) preparing him for the coming Kingdom of God to be unfolded before his very eyes in the ministry of Elisha (2 Kings 2:1-12 ESV). And even though both Moses and Elijah met with God upon the mountain, it was Elijah who was encouraged to fulfill his calling through that experience and the voice that spoke to him. Now on this mountain the voice of the Father is what matters most: “This is My beloved Son, listen to Him.” (Mark 9:7 ESV) Here God encourages the disciples to see in the cross the good news of the resurrection that now transfigures each of us. In this way the strangely ordinary (water and word, bread and wine) is all we need to see Jesus Only.

As our lives are filled with all kinds of moments - both highs and lows, fears and joys – Jesus Only is what shines through it all. Not only is He clothed in light but, as the Scriptures tell us, this true Light became total darkness on the cross so that God’s love would shine into our hearts. In Jesus Only God fills our lives with the true blessing that makes all things new. St. Paul puts it this way, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV) Jesus Only is the light that comes into and through our lives. Our prayer is simply that others would see Jesus Only in our ordinary lives.

Pastor Carl