2 Kings 2:1-12
9:2 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.” (Mark 9:2-9, NRSV)
Let us pray: Holy God, you have revealed the glory of your love in Jesus Christ, and have given us a share in your Spirit. May we who listen to Christ follow faithfully, and, in the dark places where you send us, reveal the light of your gospel, for this we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Throughout the Bible we catch glimpses of the holy. Brief moments that are difficult to understand or to explain. Most of the time they just have to be taken on faith. Today’s story from the Gospel of Mark is one of those moments. Jesus is on the top of a mountain with his disciples Peter and James and John when all of the sudden as Mark tells us that his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. The disciples just stood in awe as right there in front of them he is changed – transfigured – right before their eyes. What do you do with a moment like this?
It is a great temptation to try to explain what happened on that mountain top and what it means. It would be something if by the time we all left the service today we fully understood what happened on that mountain top so long ago. Trying to make sense of the Transfiguration is missing the point. How would explaining a brilliantly glowing holy figure going to make sense anyway.
I believe that this is a glimpse of the holy and we are not supposed to figure it out or explain it away. Instead we are to appreciate it.
This glimpse of the holy is another way in which God is revealing God’s self to the world. It is another example of God coming among humanity. God coming into the lives of the disciples, God coming into their vulnerabilities, God coming into their fears. Their response was a sense of awe. Remember it was God who said in the book of Genesis, “Let there be light and light shone forth out of darkness.” It is this same God, who created the world, beautiful and beyond our imagining, who was shone forth on that mountain top and it is the same God who shines light into our lives in the face of Jesus Christ.
That is precisely what happened on the mountain top. The disciples were stressed. They were exhausted. They were encountering conflict everywhere they turned. So they go with Jesus to the mountain top to get away, and they experience the awesome presence and power of God. “This is my beloved.”
Just like Peter and James and John, we should be drawn to him, as if we were moths drawn to a light. Because isn’t that what we all want?
- Don’t we all want some sort of glimpse of the holy?
- Wouldn’t it be great to experience transfiguration in your life?
- An encounter with God – some sense that we are not alone, that there is something more than what we can see and touch?
A sense of the transcendent, the mystic, and the holy, something outside of ourselves that will bring about a sense of awe and wonder in our own lives. Not in a narcissistic way. But because we have a deep human need for transformation, change, conversion.
So, Peter does just that as he tries save his experience on the mountain top. He wants to capture the feeling.
But this story is not just about Jesus’ revelation of his glory because as soon as Peter tries to capture it God speaks and it is time to move on.
The transfiguration of Jesus is a turning point, it is a transition from seeing Jesus as human to seeing him divine. It’s not just about securing the Jesus of the future or holding on to the Jesus of the past but points to the real human struggle with change, with transformation.
Transformation is hard. Change is hard. It’s easier to stay the same. Stay the course. Remain in place. Convince ourselves that what we have always done is satisfactory and sufficient, telling ourselves that change is too hard.
So we can just sit. And wait. For what? The right time? The right place? All of our questions answered? Everything figured out? All of our proverbial ducks in a row? This is why the transfiguration matters. Because it just happens. No warning. No preparation. It just shows up. There is no right time. It just happens. No amount of planning can predict the right kind of change. No amount of preparation can prepare you for an altered reality or an altered perspective. No amount of strategizing can make you ready for a transfiguration to be truly changed by Jesus.
Peter realizes that if Jesus changes, then he will be changed as well. He thinks that if he stays there on the mountain it will simple go away or will just pass by. Peter can come out of his tent and all will still be the same. Jesus will be the same. James and John will still be the same. But God speaks and it is time to move on because God does not call him to stay the same. God does not call us to stay the same. Instead God transforms us into the people God created us to be.
So, I invite you this Lenten season to keep your eyes open and keep your hearts ready because you just never know when the holy will break into your life and transform you.
Let us pray: