The Transfiguration of Christ
Luke 9:28-36, 43a
28 Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus[a] took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35 Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” 36 When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
43 And all were astounded at the greatness of God.
Transfigure means to change into something more beautiful or elevated. Jesus Christ, the living Lord is changing into something most beautiful and elevated. The scripture tells us that Moses and Elijah come known unto them, and a cloud that contained God swallowed them up to tell Jesus, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” Wow.
If you reflect, clouds themselves are very beautiful, they interact with our imagination, and make us childlike again. Then when that cloud turns into a storm, it becomes dark. In the world today, we have dark thunderclouds all around us. We are surrounded. These clouds cause a transformation in us, and it did for Jesus. Jesus Christ, Holy and Blessed—the one who saved us all, the one was chosen for this mission to fight those storm clouds and lead us into the clouds of majesty, love, and salvation.
When we are faced with a storm cloud, trust that God is there. Trust that through the storm the risen Christ who underwent the Transfiguration is there to transfigure and transform our lives day in and day out. All you must do is stay awake, listen and keep watch for the holy ways of change! As a church we need to stay awake, so we do not miss out on the ministry of all God’s people. Even when we wait, it may be silent, but it is only the slow workings of God to take something beautiful and make it holy.
Class of 2022
I attended a series of training conferences over the course of a few years that were powerful spiritual experiences. Each conference closed with an extended time of worship that included prayers for healing and words of encouragement spoken over each person attending. Heaven felt so close. It was a spiritual mountaintop experience. At the conclusion of each conference it was difficult to leave. How was I going to leave this life giving experience and go back to my normal life, where mountaintops were few and far between?
In today’s scripture, we find Jesus, Peter, James, and John in a mountaintop experience. Jesus has just been talking about his upcoming suffering and death, an upsetting topic for all, and the four have gone to the mountaintop to pray. While praying, the veil between heaven and earth thins and they witness true glory. Jesus speaks with Moses and Elijah and is radiant, shining from within.
I love Peter’s response to Jesus in this moment. “It is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters.” This mountaintop is good, certainly better than back there when you were saying you would suffer and die. Let’s stay. Let’s set up camp here. Let’s not leave the mountaintop. I love his response because I relate to his response. I too want to live in the high of a mountaintop experience. I want to stay where heaven seems so close, where prayers come easily, and the presence of God is so palpable. I too want to avoid the pain and suffering that come in the valley.
But, Jesus and the disciples don’t get to stay on the mountain and neither do I. Life, and work, happen off the mountain and in the valley. And frankly, I think the desire to stay on the mountaintop and avoid the mess of life in the valley is missing the purpose of the transcendent experience. For Jesus, this experience comes as he is preparing for death. The mountaintop is fortification for the raw, ugly, and beautiful work of redemption that is to come. And so, it must be the same for me as a follower of Jesus. The mountaintop is not just for my consumption, but rather, is fuel for entering into that same scandalous work of redemption.
WVU Wesley Foundation