The Comedy Gold of Mark 9

I’m now right in the middle of the Gospel of Mark, if anyone is following along with this series of posts (the others are here, here, here and here).

This is a quick post because I really enjoyed what I was reading today. I reached chapter 9, which contains Mark’s account of the transfiguration. And it is just absolute comedy gold. This is what is said in Mark 9:2-7:

After six days 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. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

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.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

Already, verse two gives a great set-up. Alone up a mountain with a couple of mates and the Son of God. And then the next sentence: ‘he was transfigured before them’. I feel like Jesus would be really good at a game like Cards Against Humanity. He definitely knows how to make weird situations weirder.

Then comes this great comment from Mark. Whilst Matthew goes for ‘his clothes became as white as the light’, Mark chooses ‘whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them’. Just in case you weren’t sure about the supernatural element of this already, Mark explicitly spells out that it is like nothing of the world. I am really enjoying this Gospel because Mark writes so without guile. It’s just such a human way of looking at the Divine. As in, the presence of heavenly light is spoken about in terms of not being able to get your laundry looking that colour. I actually really like how understated the description is here though, I think it’s difficult to consider seriously the nature of such an occasion when it is described figuratively or using ethereal-sounding adjectives. Mark’s obsession with bleach at least makes so obvious how on-another-level these events are. It almost highlights the contrast or clash between heaven and earth. Good job Mark.

This clash is also so apparent in Peter’s reaction. He just gets so freaked out. He panics at the whole situation (understandable, bless him) and pretty much gets what Bridget Jones terms verbal diarrhoea. But also he is so sincere, and I love that his reaction is ‘it is good for us to be here’ which I’m sure is the equivalent to a really gushy ramble. And then a huge cloud appears and covers them (mimicking the appearances of God as/in clouds in the Old Testament) and as far I’m concerned basically says ‘This is my Son, the Son of God, take things seriously, Peter stop talking and listen’.

This entire little episode is just ‘?!?!’ and I found it all so amusing when I was reading this morning. Also the disciples would have had an amazing insta account. #transfiguration #nofilterandnobleach

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