Reading for Transfiguration Sunday: Luke 9:28-43a
Peace be with you!
We all have moments when, after a long day, we close our eyes and relive a moment. Maybe you close your eyes to imagine being comforted by a loved one who has passed away. Maybe you close your eyes to relive a family gathering where kids ran around while the adults talked at the table. Maybe you just close your eyes to feel closer to God. In these moments, we try to escape the current situation by going back to a time when things were peaceful.
Peter is excited beyond belief when he sees Jesus talking to Moses and Elijah—two of the greatest figures in the Torah. He is so excited that he wants to build three shelters for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah (Luke 9:33) to live in as a way to preserve the moment. Three of the greatest men who ever lived were all together for a moment in time. Who wouldn’t want to preserve the moment?
However, Jesus experiences the moment drastically differently than Peter. The anguish of the conversation about his departure from the world (Luke 9:30) weighs Jesus down in the coming weeks. The glory becomes apparent on Jesus’s face as well as in his dazzling white clothes (Luke 9:29). Jesus understands the moment needs to pass and the scriptures need to be fulfilled. As Jesus is praying, Moses and Elijah come to Jesus to discuss his departure from the world and what he will do in Jerusalem (Luke 9:30-31). Jesus is praying for guidance from the ones who have gone before him as he starts the end of the beginning. It is a moment Jesus probably relives in his mind several times during his journey to Jerusalem, although it is probably not a pleasant conversation with Moses and Elijah by any standards.
Jesus’s conversation with Moses and Elijah gives him the strength to go on the journey to Jerusalem. He glows, like Moses does after he sees the Lord (Luke 9:29). Unlike Moses, Jesus does not cover his face; he wants all who see him to witness the change in him as the Lord claims him as his Son (Luke 9:35).
The voice from cloud also instructs Peter, John, and James to listen to Jesus in the coming weeks (Luke 9:35c). God the Father confirms Jesus’s authority in front of his disciples. Luke 9:35 alludes back to Jesus’s baptism (Luke 3:22) and to Psalm 2:7 when it uses the title of “Son.” “Listen to him” (Luke 9:35 NRSV) also alludes back to Deuteronomy 18:15 where the Lord speaks of a prophet like himself who will teach us how to find the path to him.[i]
Jesus teaches and leads us on the path to God the Father. Jesus teaches us how to care for our neighbors—the homeless, the hungry, the prostitute, the sinner, the disabled. Jesus teaches us how to honor God the Father through our relationships with others. Jesus shows us what it means to live in community and to value the gifts of others. Jesus Christ becomes our way to know and be with God in his kingdom. Through his crucifixion, death, and resurrection, Jesus gives us a way to have a relationship with God the Father. We are no longer bound to cleansing rituals the Israelites were slaves to keeping. Jesus frees us from the barriers to having a relationship with God the Father. The Word became flesh (John 1:1) to take on and to free us from our sin, pain, and suffering. Though he was innocent, Jesus bore all this on the cross; he died and rose again in order that we could have eternal life—new life in him.
When Peter suggests the building of three huts for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, a voice from the clouds says, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” (Luke 9:35). Peter has earthly ideas, wanting nothing more than to share this glorious moment with others. However, the Lord has other plans for Jesus, his Son and Chosen One. The Lord has an even larger, more glorious moment coming that the whole world will witness and take part in. Unfortunately, it will involve pain and anguish to get there, but it will change our lives forever.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for letting us witness this glorious moment in Jesus’s ministry. Help us to come face-to-face with you to hear your plan for us. Allow us to glow in order to share your glory with others. Remind us to listen to Jesus and to follow his instructions. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, to lead us to Jerusalem. Amen.
[i] Darrell L. Bock, Luke, vol. 3a of Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1994), 874-875.