The Transfiguration of the Lord(Click here for readings)
Jesus took Peter, John and James and went up a mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white.
To understand the physical Transfiguration of our Lord, we must place this event in its proper context. We know the Lord didn’t perform magic shows. We know He didn’t perform miracles for himself and in order to show off. We also know he didn’t want his identity to be revealed; not yet, at least. We do however know that the Lord performed various miracles to strengthen the faith of His followers. This may very well be the reason for our Lord’s Transfiguration.
This event follows a startling revelation; a revelation that would have buckled the knees of any man and woman in Christ’s company: He told them He would be put to death.
“Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:21-26).
What makes the Lord’s announcement even more horrifying is the fact that His death would be at the hands of the most respected figures in Jewish society: the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law.
For sure the Apostles were shocked at the news of Christ’s eminent death, but they must have been horrified at the news of who would carry it out. It’s one thing to be hated by your enemies. It’s another to be hated by your friends!
It took the Lord eight days for them to settle down.
Have you ever received news that sent you into a tail spin? That made you doubt everything, especially your faith, your family, your friends, even yourself? Bad news can do that. A phone call from a doctor can do that. A diagnosis that is similar to a death sentence can do that.
That’s what the Apostles were going through! What will happen to me? Did I make a mistake? Would I be welcomed back home? Or would I be hunted down like a criminal and be killed like Him?
Their enthusiasm and faith were slowly being drained out of them.
Jesus took Peter, John and James. We know all three men belonged to Christ’s inner circle and were respected by the rest. We know that none of them were perfect: Peter was notorious for speaking before thinking; John and his brother James were hot heads (they both wanted to call down fire from heaven when a Samaritan town rejected Jesus). In fact, James would be the first of the twelve Apostles to be martyred.
The Lord knew they were the ones that needed this miracle the most. They must have been spreading fear, like the flu, among the others.
Here are my friends. We often do not think of dead people as being our friends. We often do not think of the Saints as being relevant. They are! They are alive and well.
Moses and Elijah appeared before the Apostles. Moses and Elijah are two of the most important Jewish figures of all time and both men appeared in the presence of the Lord, one on his left, the other on his right. Along with Christ, they appeared in all their splendor before Peter, James and John.
And then they heard a voice, a voice that said: “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”
Those who work in the stock market agree that the worst time to sell your stocks is when the market is down. They say, in fact, it is the best time to buy even more.
A cloud came and cast a shadow over them. Our gut reaction is to run away and take cover in times of fear. Our faith tells us it is time to get up, rise above the shadows of doubt, and hear His voice.
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