Listening to See Jesus

“I’m sorry, I cannot hear you. One of my contacts is stuck to my eyelid.”

I knew how ridiculous that sounded before the words were out of my mouth. There seems to be no obvious relation between wearing corrective lenses and ability to hear. But, if you have ever worn contacts and struggled with a lens that will not stay in place or irritates your eye in some way, you probably understand that statement perfectly. It’s like all the other senses focus on whatever discomfort the contact lens creates, trying to help the eyes feel better. Perhaps your taste sensation is not as strong because taste buds are racing to the eyes to offer support or comfort. Could be that your sense of touch is less acute because all your feeling sensations or directed towards that eye irritant. Or, as in my case, maybe you just cannot hear as well as normal, because your sense of hearing is screaming at you to make the discomfort in your eye go away.

We often think of the Transfiguration of Jesus as an issue of sight. Jesus changes before the eyes of Peter, James, and John. His clothes become blinding white. He is seen talking to Moses and Elijah. Peter wants to build structures to commemorate what they have seen. But, as Mark tells the story, the real climax is a voice that speaks to the disciples, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” (Mark 9:8)

Chapters 8, 9, and 10 in Mark’s gospel contain three passion predictions; once in each chapter, Jesus predicts his suffering and death. Each prediction is followed by a story of the disciples misunderstanding what Jesus is trying to teach them. It’s like the disciples’ sense of hearing is distorted, as if they are too distracted to hear what Jesus is really saying.

The three passion predictions are surrounded by two stories of Jesus curing blindness (8:22-26 and 10:46-52). In the middle of these healing stories is the Transfiguration scene (9:1-8). Maybe Mark is warning us that our vision of Jesus gets distorted when our hearing is not functioning properly. Listen to Jesus, and you may see something more amazing than what Peter, James, and John saw on that mountain. Listen to Jesus, and you will see who he truly is.