The Transfiguration (transferred)
August 7, 2016
Epistle: II Peter 1:13-18
Gospel: Luke 9: 28-36
Growing up, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house. They had cable television, and on weekdays after school, I would often stand in front of the TV changing channels. (This was before remote controls were commonplace.) I’d punch the buttons on the old cable channel box and frequently end up watching reruns, especially old “Perry Mason” shows. I loved the intrigue and the legal battles that would take place. Often times, the way to win the day would be for a witness suddenly to come forth and give testimony to exonerate the defendant.
For millennia the importance of a witness in legal cases has been paramount. In ancient Israel, it required two or three witnesses to condemn someone. Without them, the prosecution was without grounds even to press charges.
Today, we celebrate the feast of Christ’s Transfiguration before His closest disciples, James, John, and Peter. Presumably, they had gone up the mount for Jesus to rest and pray, which He would often do after ministering. While there, the disciples became sleepy and rested. Before long, Jesus began having a supernatural conversation with Moses and Elijah, two of the great figures in Biblical history. Interesting to note is the importance of these particular figures: Moses is considered to be the author/writer of the Pentateuch – the first five books of the Bible – the “Law of God.” The Law was of primary significance to the Jewish faith. Secondly, Elijah was considered to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest prophet. He represents in this exchange the rest of Scripture: the prophetic and poetic books. Both men stand as witnesses of Hebrew Scripture, “The Law and the Prophets,” before the Word of God made manifest, Jesus Christ the Lord.
As Peter and the disciples awaken to see these men gathered with Christ and His overwhelming majesty of brightness physically shining, they become overwhelmed. Peter simply wants to extend this moment and offers to set up tabernacles (tents) to ensure the continuation of this experience, but the ancient figures disappear, and a cloud falls upon them. Out of the cloud, the voice of the Father speaks, “This is my beloved Son. Hear him.” Peter, James, and John become the first to witness the glory of God in Christ Jesus.
This moment in the history of the Church is incredibly important. Christ is not performing miracles by turning water into wine or feeding 5000 people with a few loaves and fish. Instead, He is revealing His awesome nature to these men while the Father’s voice validates this experience for the disciples. In our epistle, Peter writes that he was not following “cunningly devised fables” but was in fact recording and sharing with his readers the Truth of what he had seen and heard on that glorious day.
How often do we take the time to listen and trust the voice of those who’ve gone before? Do we trust those who have shared with us the Truth of Christ crucified and arisen? I know many who do not, who are more convinced by modern “technology” than the wisdom of old, steeped in life lessons and understanding of the nature of men.
As believers, we are called to continue our trust in the witnesses that have gone before, and to take what we have learned and share them with those around us. We are to be the new witnesses of God’s presence in this world. May you all be so blessed to share your faith with those you meet – not in Bible-banging brashness, but through the gentle prodding of a loving God through acts of service and words of kindness.