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Sunday, March 2, 2014 | Transfiguration of the Lord
Scripture Reading: Mark 9:2–10
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, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 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.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
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. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. (NRSV)
This Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday, when we mark the revelation of Jesus’ true identity to three disciples on “a high mountain apart.” What is intriguing to me is this: Had Jesus continued in his transfigured state, accompanied by Moses and Elijah, dwelling atop the mountain apart, his divine status as God’s son would have been clearly recognizable and none would have dared to challenge him. However, we see that after God declares Jesus God’s own son and calls on the disciples to listen to him, all the clear signs of divinity disappear, and the simple, human Jesus is all that remains before them.
Even though Peter offered to build Jesus dwellings to maintain their elevated state, Jesus “did not know what to say, for [the disciples] were terrified.” Can we not imagine a moment in which Jesus considered remaining in the protected heights of his divinity, in the good company of Moses and Elijah? Yet what gives Jesus pause? The fear of his disciples. Jesus does not remain set apart and terrible; he becomes human and vulnerable to all of our love and, yes, to our sin as well. We are soon to hear this story again as we journey through Lent to Easter. He dies for all of us and brings us grace and eternal life in his rising again. The amazing choice Jesus makes in assuming humanity, instead of remaining transfigured is, perhaps, the true miracle in this story.
God of the terrible and divine, I give you thanks that you are also the God of Jesus who was loving and human. Grant that I might have the same compassion that was in Jesus, who chose humble service to fearful disciples over shining glory on a high mountain apart. Though the choosing might lead to pain, grant me hope as well, that it might all lead to new life in the end. Amen.
Written by Hardy H. Kim, Associate Pastor for Evangelism
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