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Thursday, March 3, 2016
Today’s Reading | Luke 9:28–36
Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
This scene on top of the mountain is at once revelatory and transcendent. Jesus, in view of the disciples, stands alongside the most revered leader (Moses) and prophet (Elijah) in Israel’s history and yet outshines them. But this transfiguration scene, transcendent as it is, nonetheless brings with it a familiar human reaction: a desire to remain within our experiences with the divine rather than to be inspired and propelled by them.
Peter, awestruck by what he has seen, leaps into action and proposes building three ”dwellings” (literally “tabernacles” in the Greek) for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. Peter wants to domesticate this sacred moment—to remain on the mountain and cling tight to this experience—but both God and our author remind us that Peter does not know what he is saying. “This is my Son, my Chosen”, God says—recalling language from Jesus’ baptism. “Listen to him!” This call to listen is an imperative, active verb set in the present. It is not completed, but ongoing.
In this season of Lent, we come once more to listen—seeking not just to relive a familiar story of Jesus’ journey toward the cross, but to allow it to shape our journeys in the present as well.
Holy and awe-inspiring God, help me to listen actively in the midst of this Lenten journey—seeking not just to experience you, but to allow that experience of you to transform my life. Amen.
Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry
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