Summary: A commitment to spiritual formation leads to a new vision of Christ, that allows us to say with absolute conviction, “I have seen the face of the pilot, and he smiled at me. He is at the helm. All is well.”
Robert Louis Stevenson tells of a ship, tossed by a violent storm, which threatened to drive it and its passengers to destruction along a rocky coast.
In the midst of the terror, one daring man, contrary to orders, went to the main deck, making a dangerous passage to the pilothouse. He looked through a porthole and saw the coxswain (ships Pilot) at his post holding the wheel unwaveringly, and inch by inch, turning the ship out, once more, to sea.
Noticing the seeker, the coxswain smiled and nodded his head to him. The daring passenger left, fighting his way below decks and back to where he came from. As he returned, he shared these words of cheer: "I have seen the face of the pilot, and he smiled at me. He is at the helm. All is well."
[A commitment to spiritual formation leads to a new vision of Christ, that allows us to say with absolute conviction, “I have seen the face of the pilot, and he smiled at me. He is at the helm. All is well.”]
1. The Church refers to Epiphany as the season of light: the light of Christ coming into the world. Epiphany Season begins with the Baptism of Jesus and concludes with his Transfiguration (today).
2. Transfiguration is “a dramatic change in appearance, especially one that glorifies or exalts somebody”. God reveals a glimpse of Christ’s glory to Peter, James and John.
A. God assures the three that Jesus is who he says he is, and therefore is Master of all things, including the suffering he will face very soon.
B. God affirms Jesus as his beloved Son, in whom all the promises of the Law and the prophets are fulfilled.
3. To grasp the significance of the transfiguration, we must put it in its context.
A. Jesus has just performed several miracles before their eyes. In light of these supernatural events, the disciples find it easy to follow Jesus. So far, so good.
B. Jesus then asks the disciples who people say that he is. The disciples report that some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.
C. Jesus then asks for their decision. Who do you say that I am? Now it gets harder, but Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
D. Suddenly it gets very hard; Jesus explains his pending suffering and death at Jerusalem. This is hard for the disciples to hear; Jesus is the Messiah! How can he suffer and die like a common criminal?
E. Peter pulls Jesus aside and rebukes him for thinking such a terrible thing. Jesus corrects him, reminding him of the cost of discipleship and the fulfillment of his purpose. This is inconceivable to Peter and the others with their current understanding of Christ; they must experience a new vision of him (transfiguration). OYBT Mt.17 as we join Peter, James and John on the mountain.
II. THE TRANSFIGURATION
1. The three go up on the mountain (likely Mt. Hermon) with Jesus to be alone. Jesus enjoys solitude to pray, rest, or to teach his disciples. In this case, the latter is implied. He has something to show them—he is transfigured (metemorfw¿qh) before their very eyes: