and then they ran to greet him.” Mark 9:15 (NLT)
Jesus has just been up on the mountaintop with Peter, James and John. While there, he was “transfigured.” The greek word is metemorphothe. Kenneth Wuest’s expanded translation says, “The manner of His outward expression was changed before them, that outward expression coming from and being truly representative of His inner nature.” He’s dazzling white – Peter, James and John are stunned – terrified, actually. Moses and Elijah show up to talk with Jesus and oh my…
When they come down the mountain they see a great crowd gathered around the other 9 disciples and the teachers of the law arguing with and/or taunting the 9 for a failed healing.
Jesus and the three disciples first saw the antlike figures below – a myriad of colors mixing and milling about – the mass expanding as others were rushing in to see what the commotion was. Drawing closer they could see the other 9 disciples surrounded by some teachers of the law. Evidently there was trouble…again. By the hand motions and scowls, they knew there was an argument going on. As the four got closer they could hear the heated voices of the teachers as well as the din of shuffling feet and the animated whispers of gossip: “Did you hear what happened?” “Did you see that the disciples failed to heal the boy?” “Why isn’t Jesus here?”
This huge crowd – just another huge crowd that always pops up in the book of Mark – suddenly are distracted. They see Jesus coming down the mountain with Peter, James and John. First I must ask, what was it about him that made them watch with awe? Wasn’t he a mere man walking down the mountainside? Was he still dazzling white – aglow like Moses after Mt. Sinai? What made him so noticeable?
When Jesus comes toward us – it inspires awe. The NAS calls it “amazement.” NIV: “overwhelmed with awe.” NLT: “awe”; Message: “admiring excitement.” The greek word, ekthambeo, means an intense surprise that gives a certain emotional shock. Jesus – merely walking toward them – inspired awe. He stopped the arguments and stilled the clamor of gossip as well as the scuffle of sandaled feet. If he had no majesty to attract us to him – why was he so alluring now? He took everyone’s breath away much like a beautiful sunset which begs us to behold and absorb in stillness and wonder. Our God conscious wants to be overcome by the moment – ponder nothing – respond simply with our focused attention. We soak it in with the hopes that there is something more than our intellectual arguments, piddly gossip and family crises.
Jesus – ever coming toward us; ever initiating; ever extending a hand of healing, grace and mercy. Jesus, who before this moment has recently healed a deaf/mute, fed 4000 and restored sight to the blind – now coming toward this astonished throng. Despite all their arguing, all their deficiencies, all their gossip – the entire crowd runs to greet him. As I try to imagine this scene, I am befuddled. Only Jesus could inspire both shocking awe and the ensuing eager reaction to run to the One who inspires wonder.