Mark places the Transfiguration account exactly in the middle of his account of the Gospel. Ancient authors often placed something important in the middle of the book. They seem to have placed more emphasis on the structure of a work than we do today. The middle is where the heart, the center, the core of the book belongs. Right at the middle of Mark’s Gospel stands Jesus, glowing with heavenly light, conversing with Moses and Elijah. What is a preacher to do with that?
That scene for all its glory, is embedded in a three-fold prediction of Jesus death and resurrection. Mark is quite deliberate about this. He wants you to know that Jesus has glory, heavenly glory. The whole Old Testament is pointing forward to this moment. That is why Moses and Elijah are there. Jesus is the Son of God. But that fact does not yet exhaust this. It is this Jesus who makes the difficult journey to Jerusalem, betrayal, trial, crucifixion, death, and then resurrection.
Peter is depicted as almost addled here. He does not know what he is saying. Mark also wants you to know that. This does not make sense to us. It is confusing and strange. God, the cosmic Lord who makes the stars come out at night and gave them all their names (see last week’s OT and Psalm), that Jesus is the one who hangs gory and crushed on Calvary’s tree. He wants us to get some sense of the magnitude of what we see there.
This is important. Mark puts it at the center of the book.