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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, February 23, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Matthew 17:1–9

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (NRSV)

I wonder what Peter, James, and John were expecting when Jesus said, “Hey, let’s go for a walk.” A nice stroll? Did they think that Jesus was going to break out a new parable or metaphor for the kingdom of God, get a little feedback, workshop some new material?

I’m pretty sure their expectations did not include Jesus all lit up like the sun, talking with Moses and Elijah like it was no big thing, and then the voice of God coming out of a cloud, telling them what to do. I’m pretty sure that stuff freaked them out, all cool and terrifying at once, and after it was over and they were walking back down the mountain:

“That was so cool!”

“Can you believe it?”

“I wanted to build them huts!”

“Yeah, that was kind of random, Peter.”

“Shut up. Wait ’til we tell Thomas. He’ll never believe it.”

And about this time, Jesus came up and said, “Uh-uh. You can’t tell anybody about what you saw. Not until the right time.”

And I bet there were eye rolls and exasperated sighs and but-but-buts, because I mean, who shows someone something like that and then tells them not to talk about it?

Not until the right time.

Because Jesus knew that when something is revealed is as important as what is revealed. People have to have some context to make things meaningful, and if there’s no context the interpretations of events become problematic at the least. There’s a reason quantum mechanics was not discovered during the Bronze Age. Humanity needed certain things to happen before they could take that kind of leap.

Context is everything. There’s a lot we don’t know, and we’re all on a journey to get to the place where it will start to make sense.

Lord, keep us on the road to that place where things will begin to make sense. Help us to be patient and attentive to the time. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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