Summary: Sunday Next Before Lent Year C
25/2/01 6 p.m. Sunday Next Before Lent Year C - Luke 9:28-36
28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, 31 appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, "Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters - one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." (He did not know what he was saying.) 34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him." 36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.
If you were to ask someone today the question, ’ Who was Jesus ? ’ you might get some predictable answers: ’a good man’; ’an inspiring teacher’; ’ a great example to follow’; ’the Son of God’. If people do say that Jesus was the Son of God what do they understand by this ? Do they truly comprehend all that this title means ?
In Chapter 9:20 Peter had stated that he thought that Jesus was the Christ or, in Hebrew, the Messiah. From 9:21f. Jesus tells his disciples that his Messiahship is to be one of rejection, suffering and death. This contrasted with the Messianic hopes of the Jews for a popular, triumphant Messiah who would defeat the Romans.
Jesus went on to say that everyone who wanted to follow him would have to take up his cross. That is to say, they must renounce their self-centeredness and be prepared to suffer. Those who play it safe will perish; those who give their lives for him and the gospel will be saved. (9:23-26).
Jesus predicted that some of his disciples would "see the kingdom of God" (verse 27) before tasting death. Eight days later, three of them witnessed Jesus gleaming like a flash of lightning and talking with the long-dead Moses and Elijah (verses 29-30). Many scholars think the Transfiguration fulfilled Jesus’ "seeing the kingdom" prediction. The Transfiguration reveals who Jesus is, and verifies the truth of his words about his death and resurrection.
In the last few weeks we have been building up a picture of Jesus: a healer; an exorcist; a prophet; God and man who can control nature. We see the ultimate revelation of Jesus in his Transfiguration.
Jesus takes the inner circle of disciples ("Peter, James and John") up a high mountain to pray, verse 2. Once more, Luke emphasises the importance of prayer. Some traditional identifications of the mountain are Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon. Mountains are the usual settings for supernatural revelations and encounters with God. Moses and Elijah in the Old Testament had mountain top experiences with God. Moses received the commandments on mountain. On Mount Carmel, Elijah exposed the priests of Baal as false when God consumed a soaking wet sacrifice.
Joshua used to play with a toy called a Transformer. It looked like a rock, albeit a plastic one, and folded out to become a plastic monster. Although it changed it’s appearance it didn’t change it’s substance. It was still plastic.
Jesus was transfigured, the Greek is metamorphosis. It refers to a whole change of being. This was for the benefit of the disciples.
This was almost certainly a glimpse of Jesus as he had been before he became a man. His face shone, reminding us of the way that Moses face shone after he had been in the presence of God. The white garments suggested a pure heavenly being.
Jesus was with Moses and Elijah. They could symbolise a number of things. Elijah could have symbolised the prophets, those who speak on God’s behalf. He was expected to come before the Christ to prepare the way for him. Perhaps this is why he appeared here. Moses was the deliverer of God’s people and the law giver.
Moses’ work had been finished by Joshua, Elijah’s by Elisha which is another form of the name Joshua, which means ’God is salvation’ or ’God saves ’.
They now spoke with Jesus (whose Hebrew name was Joshua) about the "exodus" ( N.I.V. "departure" ) he was about to accomplish. Through this ’departure’ , his crucifixion, he would deliver his people from the bondage of sin and death and bring to fruition the work of both Moses and Elijah.