Transfiguration Sunday | February 23, 2020
17 Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. 2 As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. 3 Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.
4 Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
5 But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” 6 The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.
7 Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus.
9 As they went back down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Matthew 17:1-9 New Living Translation (NLT)
Yesterday, we had a meeting in Buffalo. It is a monthly meeting of pastors from the Western New York District of the Wesleyan Church. It is always a wonderful time of inspiration and yesterday was no exception. On the way home, I got to thinking about today’s post and had Anna look up this week’s texts – thinking that they were some Sunday in Epiphany. Somehow she mentioned the last Sunday before Lent and I said, “Oh, it’s Transfiguration Sunday.” And so it is.
Over the last few weeks, we have been looking at the teachings of Jesus. We have been looking at Jesus as the Light of the World. What was the mission of Jesus? In these scriptures over the last few weeks, we have barely scratched the surface and now we being preparing for Lent in the Feast of the Transfiguration.
The creators of the lectionary give us two parallel readings of sorts. The Old Testament reading gives us the account of Moses going up Mt. Sinai to meet with God. The mountain is covered by a cloud indicating the glory of God.
Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up to a mountain. Jesus face and appearance is transformed – as bright as the sun. Pam and I have been reading a devotional Finding Your Way by Jane Rubieta. It is a devotional that focuses on Adam through Noah. In one of her daily devotionals in the book she talks about Adam and Eve being blinded by the glory of God. She suggests that when Adam and Eve partake of the forbidden fruit – the eyes being opened meant that suddenly their eyes were not blinded by the glory of God and they noticed their sinfulness and their nakedness. Perhaps before the fall, Adam and Eve were surrounded by the glory of God and didn’t even know it.
Moses remained on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights – interestingly enough, this 40 days is the same amount of days that it rained during the flood and the number of days that Jesus spent in the wilderness.
Peter, James, and John see Jesus transformed – into what way we don’t really know, but it was quite powerful. Peter immediately suggests that they should set up some memorials.
As soon as Peter speaks, the cloud of God descends on the mountain – much like the glory of God on Mount Sinai. Out of the cloud, the voice of God speaks, “This is my dearly loved son. Listen to Him!” Immediately the disciple fall prostrate on the ground and worship – probably out of fear. Jesus comes over and says, “Get up. Don’t be afraid.” I can’t even imagine what an experience that must have been. Immediately the image of the law and prophets disappear – perhaps again meaning that Jesus came to fulfill the law and prophets. The disciples see only Jesus.
As I think about this…The disciples saw only Jesus – not the law – not the prophets – but only Jesus. This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and begin the season of Lent – a season of preparation that focuses on Jesus. It is my prayer that as we move into this season, we would see Jesus and only Jesus.