Summary: The disciples both see and hear an affirmation of who Jesus truly is, and it changes their lives.
One of the most frustrating occurrences, for a parent, is when their child or children use selective listening. I’m sure that most of us have experienced this, and probably all of us have used the technique at some point in our lives. Selective listening is not hearing what you don’t want to hear—statements like “Take out the trash,” “Pick up your clothes,” “It’s time to turn off the television, or stop playing the video game.”
The disciples practiced selective listening with Jesus. If he said something that they didn’t want to hear, they simply ignored it, or didn’t try to understand it. Again, all of us who are disciples of Jesus Christ practice selective listening in our relationship with Jesus.
In the story of Jesus’ transfiguration, Jesus’ identity is affirmed by God the Father, and the disciples are told to stop their selective listening. “Listen to him,” the Father commands.
AFFIRMATION AND COMMAND
Jesus climbs the mountain in order to pray. He takes three of the disciples, Peter, James and John. Luke is the only gospel writer who knows that Jesus ascended the mountain in order to pray. In the gospel of Luke, Jesus prays at significant times in his ministry. Wondrous things happen when Jesus prays.
Many scholars have questioned why the story of the Jesus’ transfiguration is included in the gospels. The transfiguration is the turning point in Jesus’ ministry. From the time he heads back down the mountain, Jesus begins his journey to Jerusalem. Before this journey to the cross began, Jesus’ needed to have his relationship with God the Father affirmed. The disciples also needed to realize beyond a shadow of a doubt who Jesus was.
Jesus talks with Moses and Elijah, who are two great men of faith, about his departure—his journey to Jerusalem and his crucifixion. Jesus needed to have the support of people in the faith, as he began his journey. He needed advice and encouragement.
The disciples, through Jesus’ glowing continence, shining clothes and the voice of God, realized that Jesus really was the Messiah. Jesus was the one who was going to bring in the kingdom of God. The disciples understood that Jesus was more than a great teacher, or even a prophet. Jesus truly was the Son of God and God’s Chosen One. The confirmation of Jesus’ Messiahship, helped the disciples limit their selective listening and to pay attention to the words of Jesus.
Jesus’ words are sometimes hard to hear. We are used to hearing the words of Scripture that are comforting, strengthening—words that inspire hope and courage. We love to hear that “we are remarkably made,” that “All things work together for the good,” and that “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.” Jesus, however, doesn’t limit his conversation to words of love and hope.