Today Jesus takes Peter, James and John to the top of a mountain to reveal things that had been hidden since the beginning of time.† Jesus didnít take the chief priest or the teachers of the law, he didnít invite Pilate.† They could never have understood Jesus teaching because they thought they already knew everything.† It is hard to reveal something to people who think they already know it.† So Jesus takes with him three fishermen.
That is not to say that Peter, James and John understood completely right from the beginning.† They needed a lot of help to come to the point where they could understand what Jesus wanted them to see when he took them to the mountain top.
On the top of the mountain the disciples were looking at Jesus when all of a sudden it was like he was glowing.† His face and garments were so bright.† And there were two figures standing with him.† It was Mosses and Elijah, two great prophets and heroes also famous for their exploits on the tops of mountains.† Peter not knowing how to react, wanted to create a holy place of worship.† He said, let me build you three shrines, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.† Peterís initial impulse is like ours we have a desire to control God.
But Jesus hated that idea.† All of a sudden Moses and Elijah disappeared and they saw only Jesus and heard a voice that said: ďThis is my Son, listen to him!Ē† Jesus told the disciples not to say anything about this experience until he was raised from the dead.† Only then could the disciples make proper sense out of what they saw.
On the mount of transfiguration Jesus revealed things
hidden since the beginning of the world.†
But, in order to understand what they heard and saw the disciples needed
to see something that happened on another hill, they needed to go to
Peter, James and John did understand what they saw on the mount of the transfiguration until after they saw Jesus risen from the dead.† The cross is what reveals the truth about human sin that has been hidden since the foundation of the world.† I keep saying it,, and I hope that by now you are curious about just what it is that was hidden and that the cross has revealed.
Jesus reveals that God is love and forgiveness.† That is why we teach that the cross is Jesusí glory.† That is the easy part.† That God is love.† The hard part is that much of what we thought we knew about God was wrong.† The Jewish leaders could never step away from what they thought they knew so that is why Jesus called outside people like Peter, James and John to follow him.† He chose them because they were teachable perhaps because they were less invested in the status quo.
For example Moses view of God is that God is an angry God who punishes people when they break his law.† Mosesí God is not the God that we see hanging on the cross.†
Human sin has hidden the true God.† So much of what we think we know about God is of our own making.† Jesus is the perfect and complete revelation of God.† Jesus said, ďIf you have seen me you have seen the Father.Ē† All those other ideas about God that arenít about love and forgiveness are things we have made up and are gods of our own making. , It takes a good look at Jesus hanging on the cross to help us to see with understanding.
Letís turn back to the transfiguration.† Our first reaction is to see Jesus as the equal of Moses and Elijah or as their successor.† But that is wrong.† Moses and Elijah were not there so that the disciples could see Jesus as the being the same as Moses and Elijah.† But rather that Jesus was very different.† Peter James and John could now begin to understand the God of Moses and Elijah in terms of Jesusí teaching.† That is why Moses and Elijah disappear and we hear the voice that says ďThis is my son, listen to him!Ē
There are things about God that we learned from Moses and Elijah that were not right.† So we needed the Father to send his Son Jesus to reveal the true image of his Father instead of the image of god that Moses and Elijah knew that looked a lot like themselves or a god made in their own image.
On the way up to the mount of transfiguration Peter James and Johnís view of God looked exactly like that of Moses and Elijah.† After the cross and resurrection we see God in a different way.† In their time Moses and Elijah taught that god looked different from what their people thought. †That was the essence of Jesus ministry too.
We are following this year through Markís gospel.† In his gospel there are three theophanies or places were the glory of God is revealed.† The first is at his baptism when we see the heavens opened, the second is today on the mount of transfiguration and the third will be when the Centurion sees in the Cross the glory of God when he announces that truly this man is the son of God.
Today on this Transfiguration Sunday, we all need to re-center our ideas about God in the bright light of Jesus Christ.† We need to discard all the gods of our own making and see only Jesus and listen to him.
1. What is a transfiguration in the conventional sense.
2. This seems to have been a minor experience for Jesus himself.† What kind of experience was it for Peter James and John?
3. What lets us see God in our lives?