Let us make three tents!
Lent 2 Year B
A Hebrew Catholic Perspective
Click here for a printable copy of this paper
St. Mark 9: 1 — 10
There is a pattern in Jesus’ life which is an essential part of His message. After a period of public ministry, Jesus withdrew to a wilderness spot (which in His ministry could be either desert, sea, or mountain) and there He prayed. The disciples and the crowds often came looking for Jesus, and it was in such wilderness areas He revealed glimpses of His hidden glory.
We are going to read the account of Jesus’ “transfiguration”. The association of wilderness and mountain is especially evident in this event, and these two concepts convey much powerful meaning. The Exodus account of Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24) and St. Mark’s account of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration are strikingly similar. Moses withdraws from the people and elders. Taking three men with him (Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu) Moses went up the mountain. The cloud covered the mountain, and the glory of the Lord settled on it. On the seventh day the Lord spoke from the cloud. When Moses came down from the mountain, his face shone so that he put a veil over it. (Augustine Stock, OSB.)
Jesus is our model. When God tells us in this account of the Transfiguration to “Listen to him!” — there is a sense in which we need to pay attention to every detail — not just Jesus’ words, but his actions and all the background and setting in which He chose to be revealed as God’s son. This is especially true when meditating on St. Mark’s account of the Gospel.
The precise words spoken by God, “Listen to him” are a direct link with Deuteronomy 18: 15 where Moses says:
A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you from
among your own kinsmen; to him you shall listen.
St. Mark could not demonstrate more clearly — Jesus is this second Moses come to guide the new definitive (i.e. decisive or final) exodus.
Thus it is through Jesus, who will constantly draw on Moses and the Prophets, that God will make His Holy Will known to mankind.
Some notes on our text
He also said to them, “Amen, I say to you, there are some
standing here who will not taste death until they see that the
kingdom of God has come in power.”
Jesus predicts that some with Him would see the Kingdom of God come in power. Then, “after six days” Jesus, taking three apostles with Him, ascends the mountain, and is transfigured before them.
After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led
them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was
transfigured before them.
“Was transfigured” may be understood as “was transformed”.
The fact that Peter, James and John (the inner circle) were selected, highlights the importance of what takes place. The period of six days corresponds to Moses’ six days on Mt Sinai before the Lord called him into the midst of the cloud. In both cases, the six days designate a time of preparation for the announcement of approaching suffering.
There are three important terms in the original text of this verse: high, apart, by themselves. This is a powerful threefold echoing of the wilderness isolation theme. Not just solitude, but wilderness, like Sinai in Exodus 24, and Horeb in 1 Kings 19. It is true that it was in such a place that Satan was permitted to test Jesus. And it was also there that Satan’s fate was sealed for eternity.
and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on
earth could bleach them.
The “dazzling white” imagery is from the Old Testament and is borrowed to describe the glory of the Son of God.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they
were conversing with Jesus.
The appearance of Moses and Elijah is an exciting moment. They represent, of course, the Torah (Law) and the Prophets: all that is great and Holy in God’s Covenant. They help reinforce the idea of the expected fulfilment happening at this very moment.
“It was appropriate that Jesus, whose work was inaugurated in the
wilderness at his baptism and whose way through the desert was
directed by the Spirit (Mark 1: 9 — 13) should be accompanied in
this moment of high revelation by the eminent prophets of the
wilderness who stand by his side to testify to his character and
mission.” (W. Lane)
So Jesus is the one in whom the promise of the second exodus is being fulfilled.
Verses 5 and 6
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that
we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for
Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
It is obvious the three disciples are stunned. But Peter finds within him the resources to respond. “Rabbi”, he says — their usual term for him, “It is good for us to be here”. These are beautiful words. He is not to be demeaned. He instantly recognises the blessedness of the experience. However clumsily expressed, his desire is to prolong the ecstatic vision. In spite of his fear, he wishes to continue in this intimate companionship. His special qualities are emerging, little by little.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from
the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Peter, in his generosity, wanted to build a “dwelling place”, a tabernacle of presence. God responds even more generously. And this is the real point of the event. A cloud appears and envelopes Jesus, Moses and Elijah. There is no doubt what that stands for; it is the Shekinah-glory, the manifestation of God’s presence. The cloud is God’s tabernacle, or dwelling place. It lingers over them, enclosing them in its shadow, just as the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting — thus demonstrating that God is present in and among them. Peter did not need to build any tabernacle; God did it for him.
When Jesus began His mission in the wilderness and was baptised, God called Him the “beloved Son”. Now on the wilderness mountain, the same voice of the Father declares the same love and gives the forthright command, “Listen to him”!
This echoes Deuteronomy 18: 15 and identifies Jesus as the end-time prophet like Moses to whom Israel must listen; for He is the final bearer of the Instruction (Torah) from God — or, as we can also express it, the Word from God. This gives weight to all Jesus says especially that whilst they are called to share in His glory, they must first share in His humiliation.
For now it is enough to behold the Shekinah-glory and hear God speak to them personally. In time they would realise that the manifestation of God’s presence was already living in a tent, a tabernacle, on earth in the person of Jesus.
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but
Jesus alone with them.
Things quickly return to normal. The cloud had gone, but a new sense of presence remained with them.
Verses 9 and 10
As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged
them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when
the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising
from the dead meant.
The first subject Jesus refers to on the way down is His death and resurrection. The disciples will take time to realise that there is no short cut to the glory they have just witnessed. Their real concern just now is “What have death and resurrection got to do with the Son of Man?” The gentle leadership of Jesus is at work, and the disciples are right on course.
Our regular readers know well how often we quote God’s words: “Listen to Him!” They also know how often we link it with Matthew 28: 19 and 20:
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
The word obey means literally to carry out what you have heard. The great Christian writers through every century of the Church’s existence have constantly emphasised that for the true disciple of Jesus this means listening very attentively to what He teaches, with a view to carrying it out faithfully, in all aspects of daily life.
Christians do not have an option to choose what book or books of the Bible will be their mainstay. If they are truly disciples of Jesus Christ they will meditate frequently on everything He taught and will seek to express that teaching in all of their actions.
For us, each Gospel is a very special proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Messiah, with the rest of the New Testament (backed by the Old Testament) supporting them. Listening in this way reflects the Divine order of word and action: God spoke, and it was. (Genesis 1). When we seek to obey, we listen to the Word of God with a heart eager to hear the message which we then put into action.
A Word from the Early Church
Without delay therefore hear Him with whom in all things I am well pleased; in preaching whom I am made known; in whose lowliness I am glorified; for He is the truth and the life, He is my power, my wisdom. Hear ye Him whom the mysteries of the Law foretold; whom the mouths of the prophets proclaimed. Hear ye Him whose blood has redeemed the world; who has chained the demon, and taken from him what he held; who has blotted out the deed of sin, the covenant of evil-doing. Hear ye Him who opens the way to heaven, and through the humiliation of his cross prepared for you a way to ascend to His kingdom. ….. ….. …..
These words, beloved, were spoken for the profit, not alone of those who heard them with their bodily ears, but in these three apostles the whole Church learns what their eyes saw and their ears heard. Let the faith of all men be strengthened by means of the preaching of the most holy Gospel; and let no one be ashamed of the cross of Christ, through which He redeemed the world. And because of this let no man fear to suffer for justice’ sake, or doubt of the fulfilment of His promises: for it is through toil we come to rest, and through death we cross over to life. Since He has taken upon himself all the infirmity of our humanity, in Him we shall overcome what He has overcome, and receive what He has promised, provided that we persevere in faith and love of Him. And so, beloved, that we may do what He has told us to do, and bear our trials in patience, we should have ever in our ears the voice of the Father telling us: This is my beloved Son, hear ye him. (Sermon 51) St Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome, Fifth Century
For those who would like a detailed study resource
on the readings for Sunday, please visit:
If you require only the section on the Gospel reading,
just scroll down the page.
To view all the material on the Agape website please visit:
This website is highly recommended:
Proclaim the Gospel to Every Creature
(Mark 16: 15)
The real Jesus, is the real answer to the real needs of the world!
Let us remember God’s teaching, contained in His Word and in doing
Let us make three tents
Lent 2 Year B Mark 9: 1 — 10
1. We sometimes hear preachers make supercilious remarks such as,
The three men Jesus chose to accompany Him were so awe-struck
Peter, a devout, practising Jew, sensed the awesomeness of the
2. Elijah, representing the Prophets, and Moses the Torah, or
3. Jesus is both our Tent of Meeting, and our Tabernacle
At the Transfiguration, the cloud which descended upon the group
The same holds true for all disciples of the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Scripture reading referred to:
Exodus 33: 7 — 11
7 The tent, which was called the meeting tent, Moses used to pitch at some
8 Whenever Moses went out to the tent, the people would all rise and stand
9 As Moses entered the tent, the column of cloud would come down and
10 On seeing the column of cloud stand at the entrance of the tent, all the
11 The LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as one man speaks to
1 Kings 8: 10 — 11;
10 When the priests left the holy place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD
11 so that the priests could no longer minister because of the cloud,
Ezekiel 37: 27 — 28;
27 My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be
28 Thus the nations shall know that it is I, the LORD, who make Israel holy,
Revelation 21: 3.
3 I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling
Mark 9: 1 ― 10
Lent 2 Year B
1 1 He also said to them, “Amen, I say to you, there
2 2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John
3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no
4 Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and
5 3 Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good
6 He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
7 Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
8 Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
9 5 As they were coming down from the mountain, he
10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning
1  There are some standing . . . come in power: understood by some to refer to the establishment by God’s power of his kingdom on earth in and through the church; more likely, as understood by others, a reference to the imminent parousia.
2 [2-8] Mark and ⇒ Matthew 17:1 place the transfiguration of Jesus six days after the first prediction of his passion and death and his instruction to the disciples on the doctrine of the cross; ⇒ Luke 9:28 has “about eight days.” Thus the transfiguration counterbalances the prediction of the passion by affording certain of the disciples insight into the divine glory that Jesus possessed. His glory will overcome his death and that of his disciples; cf ⇒ 2 Cor 3:18; ⇒ 2 Peter 1:16-19. The heavenly voice (⇒ Mark 9:7) prepares the disciples to understand that in the divine plan Jesus must die ignominiously before his messianic glory is made manifest; cf ⇒ Luke 24:25-27. See further the note on ⇒ Matthew 17:1-8.
3  Moses and Elijah represent respectively law and prophecy in the Old Testament and are linked to Matthew. Sinai; cf ⇒ Exodus 19:16-⇒ 20:17; ⇒ 1 Kings 19:2, ⇒ 8-14. They now appear with Jesus as witnesses to the fulfillment of the law and the prophets taking place in the person of Jesus as he appears in glory.
4  A cloud came, casting a shadow over them: even the disciples enter into the mystery of his glorification. In the Old Testament the cloud covered the meeting tent, indicating the Lord’s presence in the midst of his people (⇒ Exodus 40:34-35) and came to rest upon the temple in Jerusalem at the time of its dedication (⇒ 1 Kings 8:10).
5 [9-13] At the transfiguration of Jesus his disciples had seen Elijah. They were perplexed because, according to the rabbinical interpretation of ⇒ Malachi 3:23-24, Elijah was to come first. Jesus’ response shows that Elijah has come, in the person of John the Baptist, to prepare for the day of the Lord. Jesus must suffer greatly and be treated with contempt (⇒ Mark 9:12) like the Baptist (⇒ Mark 9:13); cf ⇒ Mark 6:17-29.
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here.”
In Mark 9: 5 and 6 we reach a very special moment in the experience of the Apostles — particularly
First: Meeting Place for God and man
The English words tent, tabernacle, and booth are variant translations
The Tent of Meeting was the meeting-place of Yahweh (the Lord God)
Secondly: Tabernacle of God’s Presence with us on our pilgrimage.
On the other hand, skene was also used to designate a booth (sukkah …..
In the Judaism of Mark’s time the day of salvation was often pictured as a
The Apostles were soon to learn that in Jesus, God “tabernaclled” i.e. “pitched His tent”, (dwelt)