Friday, February 9, 2018

The Transfiguration of You: Mark 9:2-9 - Transfiguration Sunday


2Six 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, 3and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5Then 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.” 6He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
9As 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. (NRSV)
By Alvesgaspar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Someone once asked me if I’d ever seen a miracle…

Well, I’ve never seen water turned into wine, or the disabled get up and walk like you see on TV. 

Nevertheless, I see miracles all the time.

I know people who’ve been so close to death that they saw God.  I know people who live full and abundant lives all the while enduring terrible illnesses.  I’ve known folks who experienced death with such joy that it was as if God was carrying them off to heaven in a chariot, like God did for Elijah.  I’ve known atheists who’ve become believers because of the love and witness of other Christians.  And I know people who show the kindness of angels to friends and strangers alike. 

The best part is that these are your miracles!  We witness them right here in our family of faith. 

But miracles are an uncomfortable subject for me.  I don’t understand and can’t explain why some people get miracles and others don’t.  God’s ways are a mystery, for certain

That same mystery shrouds Jesus’ transfiguration in today’s Gospel.

Jesus leads Peter, James, and John up a high mountain, by themselves.  All the sudden, Jesus’ clothes become dazzling white—and Elijah and Moses appear out of nowhere and begin talking with Jesus. 

Terrified by what he’s seeing and unsure of what else to do, Peter offers to build three dwelling places—until a booming voice from a cloud says, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”  In an instant, the whole thing is over, and Jesus is walking back down the mountain—like it all never happened.

So what are the disciples to make of this?  What are we to make of this?  Why did Jesus choose Peter, James, and John to see this, but not the other nine disciples?  Why did Jesus demand secrecy about the whole thing?

One thing we know for sure is that this is a revelation of Jesus’ true glory.  There’s no denying the truth, that Jesus is God’s Son.  They saw with their own eyes.  They heard with their own ears. 

Here’s why this all matters: things are going to happen that will cause the disciples to question this truth.  They will continue to see horrific human suffering and demon-possessions.  Ultimately, worldly and demonic powers will unite against Jesus and put him to death on the cross.  When these things come to pass, the disciples will have forgotten what they’d witnessed, and they will stumble in their faith.

This points to what role miracles play in the Christian life: God acts to reveal the truth of who God is.  You are God’s beloved.  

Most of us don't become followers of Jesus because someone tells us to.  It often takes an experience with Jesus for us to follow him.

If you think miracles are all about you, you are mistaken.  They aren’t a reward for faith or good works, any more than Jesus was rewarding Peter, James, and John by letting them witness his transfiguration.  Miracles are about Jesus.  They are his victories over death and evil.  They are his revelations of God’s truth.  But they are for you.  There is not a day that goes by in which God is not present and acting powerfully in your life. 

But do you recognize God’s deeds of power?  Are you paying attention?  Are you thankful?

There’s so much going on in the life of today’s Christian that you’re pulled from one task to the next; lost in the desert of busyness; totally oblivious to the presence of God in all things. 

When you’re disappointed in God, God can seem so far away.  But God is never absent—and you can never be cut off from God’s grace.  It’s a mistake to think that God’s glory is contained to mountaintop experiences.  God’s power isn’t limited to success, achievement, or dramatic reversals of misfortune.  In reality, God’s glory revealed far more often and more powerfully in ashes and dirt of life; in the places of sorrow and death.  Trust God and you will see the miracle. 
When you are mindful of what God is up to, you are ready to hear Jesus when he calls you. In this day and age, people who love lavishly like Jesus are miracles, who work miracles.  It’s never a question of if  Only a question of when, where, and how.  Trust in God and you will be the miracle!

Jesus has more in store for you to share with others than merely thoughts and prayers. Most of the time, he will call you out of your day-to-day routines; out of the rat race; out of the pursuits that drive you through the day.  Miracles happen outside the realm of the ordinary and routine; outside of the walls you erect to protect yourself from discomfort and maintain the illusion of control.   Miracles happen when Jesus leads you to new places, new faces, and new kinds of service.

Best of all, Jesus gathers us into one Body to be a part of each other’s miracles.  We glorify God together as God’s power is made perfect in weakness.  We glorify God in the love and the hope that binds us to each other.


Today we celebrate the Transfiguration of Jesus.  God is celebrating the Transfiguration of you.  Jesus’ transfiguration is the promise of what God wants to do for you—to live in to the fullness of all you were created to be.  To face the future in the assurance that you are God’s beloved.

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