The Rev. David Sellery
Well this is more like it. Brilliant lights and radiant garments, a voice from the clouds, Moses and Elijah in attendance… this is what the coming of the Messiah was meant to be. No wonder Peter is ready to set up shop right on top of the mountain. Let’s get some tents up here and start the kingdom right now.
Poor practical Peter, what else was he to do? In the face of the divine, his reaction is so very human. Jesus has come to redeem the world and build an eternal, heavenly kingdom. And Peter can only think about the trappings of an earthly kingdom. Jesus is operating on a completely different, elevated plane. And Peter is bound by the limits of his expectations, his experiences and his senses. Once again, Peter is our “every man.” He stands in for all of us in our trivial, human frailty before the face of God. How like us he is.
How would we behave before the transfigured glory of Jesus? It is not a hypothetical question. In our earthly final hour, it is a certainty that awaits us all. Surely we’ll be in unimaginable awe. But after a lifetime of Christian instruction and worship, will we finally, fully understand the message? Or will we continue to project our own expectations? By the grace of God we know the answer. All will be made plain. And since that meeting is a certainty, it just makes sense to take what little time we have here to prepare for it… better to meet an intimate friend than a neglected stranger.
While Peter is a first-hand witness to the wonders of Jesus, he is still confused. Where is this going? How will it end? He has an idea of what the Messiah should be, but God obviously has a very different idea. We have the advantage of scripture, tradition and historical perspective, but how often do we make the same mistake as Peter? How often do we expect God to live up to our expectations, rather than seeking his will?
From childhood, we have been taught the full story. Over and over we have learned of the mission and the message of Jesus. But what have we done with this ultimate good news? Is it filed away for some death bed referral? Or do we live by it, shaping our choices and our decisions every day? Are the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus immediate imperatives that have real and governing impact on our lives or are they fabled abstractions, dusted off and taken out to lend texture to traditional holiday celebrations?
Transfiguration: that is the challenge of this Last Sunday after Epiphany and first Sunday before Lent. Live it right here, right now, with and in our dazzling, transfigured Savior. In the words of the Father: listen to him. Follow him to glory. God loves you no less than Moses or Elijah. Make loving, praising and thanking him the purpose of your day. And you will be transfigured, too.
Copyright 2014, David Sellery. Used by permission.