It is good to be here
2 Kings 2:1-12 \\ \\
Every Sunday we provide you with an insert that contains the lectionary readings for that particular Sunday.
One of the readings assigned by the lectionary for today is the gospel of Mark chapter 9, verses 2-9.
I often wonder how they determined where to begin and end each reading, what is their logic.
For instance, why begin with the second verse in chapter nine and not include the first verse?
The second verse begins saying: “After six days.”
So it is natural to ask, six days after what?
Six days after verse one where we find Jesus saying to the crowd who followed him: “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.”
Mark, Matthew and Luke, all of them specifically make a connection between what Jesus said in the first verse and what happened in the second verse.
According to Mark and Matthew, six days after Jesus said those words; “Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone.
There he was transfigured before them.
His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.
Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”
“This event made such an impact on Peter that he refers to it in his second letter: “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.”
(2 Peter 1:16-18) Remembering the event, Peter refers to the mountain as the holy mountain.
“Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.
Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
Biblical experts tell us that Mark was writing the memoirs of Peter, so it is important to note the comment that Mark adds to Peter’s statement.
(He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
Mark and Luke make the point that Peter offered to make three dwellings, because he did not know what to say.
Have you ever been there, in a place where you have no idea what to do or what to say?
All Peter could say was: “It is good for us to be here!”
He was not sure why it was good, he even made a silly recommendation, but he knew that somehow it was good for them to be there.
It was not only that Jesus was transfigured before their eyes, but there with Jesus was Elijah and Moses.
This is a representation of what will happen in the last days, the coming of the kingdom that Jesus refers to in verse one.
The apostle Paul writes about these events in his letter to the Thessalonians: “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Therefore encourage each other with these words.
(1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)
Here before the disciples is Moses representing those who died.
We have a record of Moses death in the book of Deuteronomy: “Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’
I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.
And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said.
He was buried in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is.” (Deuteronomy 34:4-6)
And before them is also Elijah who ascended to heaven alive, representing those that will, according to Paul, be caught up in the clouds.
The lectionary includes for this Sunday, the Elijah story as found in 2 Kings 2:1-12.
God is about to take Elijah up to heaven and Elijah wants to face that alone.
Elijah keeps going from one town to another trying to leave Elisha behind, but Elisha knows what is about to happen and refuses to stay behind.
Everytime Elijah ask him to stay somewhere Elisha responds saying: “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.”
Everywhere they go other prophets tell Elisha, but he asks them to be silent, because he does not want Elijah to know that he already knows.
They go to Gilgal, Bethel, Jericho, Jordan; finally Elijah gets that he will not be alone so he asks 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.”
Elijah responds, “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.”
It was good for Elisha to be there, to witness Elijah’s ascension to heaven.
Both Mark and 2 Kings seem to be about being at the right place at the right time; but there is one difference between Elisha’s story and the story of Peter, James and John; the disciples were surprised, they were not expecting anything.
So when God acted they had no idea how to respond.
But Elisha was expecting something, he did not know when or where, but he knew that something was going to happen; so when the opportunity came he knew what he wanted from God through Elijah, a double share of Elijah’s spirit; not the same but double.
The difference in expectations between the disciples and Elisha made a radical difference in the impact of their experience after the event.
When Jesus, Peter, James and John came down from the mountain, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with the other disciples.
Jesus asked them “What are you arguing with them about?”
“A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech.
Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground.
He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid.
I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
Jesus was upset at the inability of the disciples to cure the man.
The disciples came down the mountain to face defeat.
For Elisha, it was different, he was different.
After he saw Elijah ascends: “He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.
Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it.
“Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked.
When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.
The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, “The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.”
And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.
(2 Kings 2:13-15) What a difference!
When you come on Sunday, what do you expect?
Do you come like Peter, James and John not expecting much and even if something happen it surprises you so much that it does not benefit you at all; or do you come like Elisha expecting that God is going to do something.
You do not know where or when exactly but you are ready.
You are prepared to be blessed by God’s action.
John the Baptist sent messengers to asked Jesus if he was the Messiah or not.
“After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see?
A reed swayed by the wind?
If not, what did you go out to see?
A man dressed in fine clothes?
No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces.
But what did you go out to see? (Luke 7:24-26) What did you come here to see? Jesus said to his followers: “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.
For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
(Matthew 18:19-20) The difference is how you are coming, are you coming today like Elisha or like Peter?