Summary: The Word made flesh was revealed in glory; now the Word given by the holy writers attests to this fac that we may believe.
A child’s birth, a college graduation, grandma’s funeral – these are some examples of life-changing events. We’ve all observed them and they’ve affected us in one way or another, either for good or bad. Just consider the events of September 11th. We all witnessed the tragedy of that day and it has had a profound impact on our country and lives; a life-changing event to say the least.
Today, St. Peter recalls a life-changing event of his own. It was the Transfiguration; the day Jesus briefly revealed his glory. That day obviously impacted Peter’s life. Yet, he tells us that he wasn’t the only one affected. He wasn’t the only one to witness that majestic happening. Peter reminds us that WE ARE WITNESSES as well. We are witnesses 1) of God’s Glory, just as Peter was. The reason for this is because we are also witnesses 2) to God’s Word.
1) Of God’s Glory
When you heard the account of Jesus’ transfiguration, did it inspire you? Did it make you long for heaven, where you could see for yourself what those three disciples once saw? Or did those words from Matthew 17 sort of roll past your ears as a muted buzz? I suppose we 21st Century Americans have a hard time getting excited about words that are over 2,000 years old, especially when those words try to convey the supernatural. After all, we’ve seen it all, haven’t we? Nothing can shock us. People say we’re cynical. But this cynicism is nothing new. In fact, that notion was alive and well at the time of the apostle Peter. He had seen the most profound life-changing event ever known; the transfiguration of Christ. He was an eyewitness of the eternal glory of God; glory that was present at creation, glory that led Israel from Egypt, glory that guarded and guided them in the wilderness, glory that sustained the universe; and now Peter witnessed that glory radiating from Jesus’ very body!
How did people respond when Peter shared this experience? They thought he was crazy. They accused him of embellishing, or making up, stories. People called his eyewitness account a myth. The people of Peter’s time knew plenty of fantastic stories. They were cynical as well. There was the Jewish Talmud; a collection of mythological stories about people in the Old Testament. Then there were the myths from Eastern religions, and the stories from the Greeks or the Romans. Each culture seemed to have its own set of myths that were never meant to be taken at face value. All those myths about the Roman or Greek gods were just a way of trying to understand the mysteries of the universe. And so, many people looked at the account of Jesus’ life in the same way; just another myth with some sort of truth attached to it.
I’m sure there was a part of those ancient people that longed for those myths to be real. As cynical as people were, they still wanted to believe in glory – glory they could touch and see for themselves.
As skeptical as we are, we still hunger for glory. We want glorious lives. Just as the little boy in first century Greece dreamed of being Hercules, so today young children long to be likes of glorious superheroes. We want to do more; be more; see more; experience more! We want to be dipped in glory and majesty up to our eyeballs. And we’ll grab for this glory any way we can.
We want to have our socks knocked off. Take the motion picture industry for example, most people don’t go to the movies to watch a movie – to see a plot develop or relate to a story – no; nowadays people go to see the latest special effects or the cutest leading man. And people no longer watch the Super bowl simply to see a football game; instead people seem more interested in the new commercials. We want to be “wowed!” We have an insatiable hunger for glory.
The sad thing is that we look for glory and majesty in ourselves. We try to achieve it for ourselves. Unfortunately, we can’t. The best we can do is pretend. We are incapable of achieving any real, lasting glory. The darkness of sin shrouds each of us, and blocks out any glory. We are weak, perishable creatures. Any glory we hope to achieve will only fade away.
Last week I heard about an 82 year old woman who underwent plastic surgery. She had a complete “overhaul” if you will, from her lips enlarged to a tummy tuck. When asked why she considered such a thing, she said, “I’m tired of being deprived. I want it all!” In other words, she wanted the glory. She wanted to wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and be able to “wow” herself. Unfortunately, we can’t “wow” ourselves forever. The glory eventually fades away. Skin wrinkles and tummies sag. Sin collects its wages. And it is not glorious.