The setting of these verses is Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus asks his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" Their responses are threefold: John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets. When Jesus intensifies the question by asking what the disciples think, Peter responds, "You are the Messiah," and Jesus commands the disciples to silence. Jesus' messiahship will not be a political display of power, but something hidden in the cross and in the identity of a servant or slave (8:27-30).
All three passion and resurrection announcements in Mark's Gospel sustain a pattern developed by the first passion and resurrection announcement (8:31), followed by the disciples' misunderstanding (8:32-33), and concluding with Jesus' teaching on discipleship, which here focuses on the paradox of saving one's life by losing it for Jesus' sake and the sake of the gospel (8:34-9:1).
The transfiguration is at the midpoint of Mark's Gospel. Like the voice from heaven at Jesus' baptism (1:9-11), readers again hear the voice that ushers them into the second half of the Gospel: "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!" (9:7). The disciples are warned to remain silent, and Jesus teaches that the forerunner role of Elijah has come in the person of John the Baptist (9:9-13). This collection of events concludes with Jesus casting out an unclean spirit that the disciples were unable to cast out (9:14-29).
27 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, Who do people say that I am? 28And they answered him, John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets. 29He asked them, But who do you say that I am? Peter answered him, You are the Messiah.* 30And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.
34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel,* will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words* in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. 91And he said to them, Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with* power.
2 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one* on earth could bleach them. 4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5Then Peter said to Jesus, Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings,* one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. 6He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, This is my Son, the Beloved;* listen to him! 8Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. 11Then they asked him, Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first? 12He said to them, Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? 13But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.
14 When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them.
15When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him.
16He asked them, What are you arguing about with them?
17Someone from the crowd answered him, Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak;
18and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.
19He answered them, You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.
20And they brought the boy* to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it threw the boy* into convulsions, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.
21Jesus* asked the father, How long has this been happening to him? And he said, From childhood.
22It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.
23Jesus said to him, If you are able!All things can be done for the one who believes.
24Immediately the father of the child cried out,* I believe; help my unbelief!
25When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, You spirit that keep this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!
26After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, He is dead.
27But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand.
28When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could we not cast it out?
29He said to them, This kind can come out only through prayer.*
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
10 February 2011