Summary: How we see Jesus determines our response to him.
Sermon for Transfiguration Sunday, Yr B, 2/03/2003
Based on Mk 9:2-9
Grace Lutheran Church, Medicine Hat, Alberta
By Pastor Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
There was a man who went to his doctor and expressed the following concern: “Doc, I’m really worried. Every time I drink a cup of coffee, I feel a stabbing pain in my eye. Do you think it’s serious?” To which the doctor replied, “No, try taking the spoon out of your cup.”
We may not have a spoon blinding us and causing pain in our eyes, but chances are, at times, we see things from a certain perspective, a certain way that may very well prevent us from seeing things more clearly. We all form certain opinions of others based on how we see them. Sometimes how we see them and our opinions of them can be mistaken.
Robert Cueni tells of how he could only see a pastor as an aging sickly man, long past his prime. Then he found out later how active the pastor once had been in the civil rights movement as a young man. That fact changed the way Cueni thought about him. Sometimes seeing people from a different perspective changes our entire understanding of them. 1
In today’s gospel, Peter, James and John were all given a vision, a new way of seeing Jesus when he was transfigured before them. This changed their perspective of him and gave them a new understanding. It was indeed a mountain top experience for them.
Those of you who have ever climbed to the top of a mountain or flown in an airplane know that the view “up above” is much different than “down below.” I know whenever I’ve stood on top of a mountain on a clear day I’ve marvelled at how I was able to see into the far distance ahead. I’ve also been fascinated by looking out the airplane window at an infinite number of clouds below me. So too were Peter, James and John marvelled by and fascinated with the transfiguration of Jesus. I don’t know if you noticed it, but if you read carefully Mark’s description of the transfigured Jesus, it is strikingly similar to the description of the risen Christ in the New Testament resurrection accounts. Take into consideration verse nine of today’s gospel where Jesus tells his disciples as they go back down the mountain not to tell anyone about the transfiguration until after he had risen from the dead; and we are given the impression that the transfiguration event is a preparation for the future; for the cross and resurrection.
Sometimes it is not until much later in life that we come to see the purpose of the events of our lives and how they all fit together. It is then that we realise how God works through such events to prepare us for the future. Our mountain top experiences also prepare us for the future. When we like Jesus and his disciples face our hardships and crosses, we can draw strength from the beauty and wonder of the mountain top perspective. As former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjold was observed: “Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step: only (the one) who keeps (their) eye fixed on the far horizon will find the right road.”