Summary: When we see in the Transfiguration that Jesus is fully human and fully divine, listening to Him takes on great power.
Introduction: Our scripture passage took place six days after Jesus asked the disciples who people thought He was, and Peter recognized that He was the Messiah. Still the disciples didn’t really understand. As Jesus began His journey to Jerusalem, He was transfigured in front of Peter, James and John. Witnessing His transfiguration was what they needed to understand Jesus’ true nature, fully human and fully divine.
On two occasions in Jesus’ life the heavens opened above Him and a voice declared His identity as the Son of God. His baptism and His transfiguration validated Jesus as the bearer of divine revelation, both in His teaching and His person. Jesus stood between Moses and Elijah, the center of God’s revelation.
Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with Him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with Him I am well pleased; listen to Him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Prayer: Transport us, O God, to the mountaintop with you. Let us leave behind in the valley anything that would blunt our hearing of your word. Blind us with the dazzling truth of your glory, once again. Let the gospel address us as if for the first time, through the power of the Spirit. Amen.
I have a pastor friend whose hobby is astronomy. Since he lives in West Virginia, he has a better view of the night sky than we do. We bought a small telescope a few years ago, but we haven’t had much luck. Whenever we hear that something is going to happen in the night sky, John pulls it out and we look, but the lights interfere. We live in a place filled with distractions that interfere with out seeing the true light.
In Tucson, Arizona, they actually have “light regulations” that limit the amount of street light at night so it won’t interfere with the “good seeing” of the telescope nearby. When I heard that term, “good seeing,” I was curious.
A “good seeing” happens when the earth’s atmosphere is calm and free of dust, and the sky takes on a dark blue color. Astronomers climb to the very tops of mountains, well above the cloud deck, in search of a sky clear enough to allow them to capture sharp and stable images of heavenly bodies. [“The Stormy Star,” Homiletics, February 2005, 47]
Today, astronomers are particularly interested in the star at the center of our solar system: the sun. It produces virtually all the energy that supports life on earth. It’s the source of our weather, the controller of our climate, and our closest connection to the processes that power the universe.
You could say that Peter, James, and John experienced a “good seeing” when they followed Jesus up to the top of the high mountain on the day of the transfiguration. They climbed up to an altitude where the sky was a luminous blue, and at the peak Jesus was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun.
Reverend Charles Duvall says,
Before this [Peter, James, and John] had seen [Jesus] as a wonderfully insightful rabbi with remarkable healing powers. Now they experience Him shining with the glory of God. He’s not reflecting God’s glory. God’s glory is radiating from Jesus…Jesus is God. He is that unique individual in all of history who is fully human (they had seen Him tired, hungry, irritated) and yet fully divine (the heavenly voice calls Jesus: My Son, My Chosen). Now they realize that to know Jesus is to know God. What is God like? Look at Jesus. What is God’s attitude about us humans? Get to know Jesus and His attitudes…
[Also]…this new insight about Jesus being God changed their view of God. Since Jesus, the involved rabbi, is God, it is clear that God is very involved in human life. No longer could they view God simply as the awesome other. God is present in their lives because Jesus is present in their lives…They now saw, in a new light, what God had been trying to show to His chosen people from the beginning: God wants to be known by us humans. [God] even takes the ultimate step of becoming one of us so that we might see God in images that we understand…