Transformed by Jesus (The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ)
Luke 9:28-36 (My rough translation)
28 And it happened that about eight days after these words, taking along Peter and John and James, he went up onto the mountain to pray. 29 And it happened that by his praying the appearance of his face was different and his clothing was a flashing white. 30 And behold, two men, who were Moses and Elijah, were speaking with him. 31 They, being seen in glory, were speaking about his exodus, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem. 32 And Peter and those with him were weighed down with sleep; yet, staying awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 And it happened that while they were going away from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here, and let us make three tabernacles, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah,” not knowing what he was saying. 34 And as he was saying these things, a cloud also was overshadowing them. And they were made afraid while they came into the cloud. 35 And a voice happened from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, who has been Chosen; Listen to him.” 36 And by means of the voice happening, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and they told the message of what they had seen to no one in those days.
“Transformed by Jesus”
The Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ
August 6, 2017
Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration. While this is a lesser known Christian holiday, it is still very important. It is a story about transformation, both Jesus’ and ours. Jesus reveals who he truly is and changes his disciples forever.
Jesus climbs a mountain with his three closest friends and they come down having seen a revelation from God.
Jesus transforms before them and shines with the Light of God.
Jesus meets with the Lawgiver Moses and the Prophet of Prophet Elijah.
The Transfiguration is an Epiphany! It is a moment of clarity for Peter, James, and John. They leave with knowledge they never expected before. They are changed by witnessing Jesus’ change.
Before this incident, Peter knew that Jesus was the Messiah, the Chosen Savior of Israel, and even the “Son of God.” But after seeing Jesus shine with the Light of God and reveal his true glory, Peter believed that Jesus was God, full stop.
The whole of Israel’s Story (the Law and the Prophets) rally around Jesus and affirm his role as Messiah.
Everything God did in Jesus is confirmed through the Transfiguration. The disciples know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is God’s Son, the perfect image of the Father, God made flesh, who will save the whole world.
Peter, James, and John left the mountain transformed by seeing Jesus’ transformation.
The act of looking at God and looking for God, of staring deeply into the face of Jesus is transformative. It can transfigure us. This happens for us in times of prayer and worship, in the Holy Eucharist (Jesus’ Body and Blood), and in the day-to-day life of disciples whose eyes are open to the Mystery of God in all creation.
How has Jesus transformed your life? Our life as a parish? What is the difference that Christ is making in us?
Jesus has transformed me in countless ways.
In moments of prayer, in the voices of others, in laughter and joy shared with friends, Jesus has changed me.
Sometimes I have even seen the face of Jesus in people I meet. Perhaps it was not as dramatic as the Transfiguration story, but I have seen the Light of God shining through the lives of some. I’ll share a story with some names and details changed to protect the privacy of others.
These things often start simply enough. Peter, James, and John thought they were just hiking a mountain and praying with Jesus. They had no idea what surprises God had in store for them.
Several years ago, when I still lived in Durham, North Carolina, I went to a small church called St. Joseph’s near Duke University, where I was studying at the time. I was at a midweek service, and as it ended I was hanging around and chit-chatting, as I often do. There was an older woman named Jackie who was new to church. I had only recently met her, but she came up to me with a request.
Jackie said she had met someone on the bus who I should meet. It was a young woman named Rosa who had come to the USA from Mexico some years ago and needed help translating some paperwork for a job she was applying for. Her English was limited and I knew enough Spanish to get by, so she put me in touch.
I called Rosa and arranged for us to meet in person to discuss the documents. She was nervous about meeting a man alone so we met in a public place. Over the course of that meeting, I learned about her story.
I learned about where she grew up and how she came to Durham and how she arrived in the place she was living now. I learned about her beautiful children and the hard lives they had led to that point. I learned about the struggles that immigrant families face trying to get by in a country that offers no favors to people without English proficiency or without legal documentation.
I learned about her faith and how it was battered and tried through all her struggles and how the Church had only occasionally been there when she needed it. I learned about how her experience of God differed from mine.
And she learned about me and my story and why I was interested in meeting a stranger, and what brought me from New York to the South, and how I was studying to become a pastor. And if I’m being honest, many parts of my story began to feel silly or inadequate next to hers.
So we took care of that job application. But over time, I introduced her to Kelly and she introduced me to her family and we developed a unique bond over the course of the next few years. We became a part of Rosa’s inner circle of friends during a very difficult period of her life.
It was often hard for me to walk alongside her through many of the challenges, but through Rosa and her family, I met Jesus a little better. Through meeting someone from a totally different part of the world and from a different place in society, God spoke to me.
Jesus transformed me through this simple friendship, that only came to pass because one person was paying attention to another person on a bus. In a lot of ways, Jackie is the hero of the story. God can use all of our simply acts of love and attention to advance the Kingdom. Jesus can appear among us at any time and in any place.
And when we see Jesus and look for the light of God to shine around us, we may be surprised to find that he is present where we least expect it.
Micheli, Jason. “What Preachers Get Wrong and Peter Gets Right about the Transfiguration.” Published 23 February 2017. Accessed 5 August 2017. https://www.christiancentury.org/blog-post/what-preachers-get-wrong-and-peter-gets-right-about-transfiguration