Transfiguration Day

In the Bible, there are three stories of the Transfiguration of Jesus. All are slightly different in literary placement, wording, and exact meaning.

In Matthew 17. Jesus and his followers just finished the discussion of who Jesus is (the Messiah) and what is supposed to happen to Him, which ends in Peter being called a satan for going against Jesus’ foretelling of His death. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a mountain for some prayer time. As they reach the top, a thick fog, bright lights, a transfigured Jesus, and Moses and Elijah just show up out of nowhere. It is quite the site to see and Peter wants to build a monument on the spot. But God was not just showing his might here. He tells the three to listen to Jesus, because the things he is saying, despite the death comments, is pleasing and part of the plan (Isaiah 53). Jesus then tells them not to say anything until the Resurrection happens.

Mark 9 is much the same story, but much quicker. It seems that gospel of Jesus gave the followers a sense of relief in the writing of these books after Christ arose. They found out the despite their wishes for the Messiah being sabotaged by reality, God had a great plan.

Luke 9 gives an account too, but ends slightly different. Although the reader knows the resurrection is coming, the disciples are not told about it. They just know that God has spoken and that Jesus is not crazed or falling away from good theology or doctrine. God will be doing to Jesus what He did for Israel when they were in Egypt. Luke might not mention Resurrection, but he is keeping it implicitly by talking about Exodus and liberation.

All of these stories follow on the heels of a discussion about who Christ is and what the people think that means. The end of those conversations showed that there was stark contrast between what the disciples thought and what Jesus knew His occupation meant.

How many times have we been in that boat, making theological and doctrinal claims. We worked with an “old-fashioned” theology. It made sense because it helped us cope with God and what we wanted His work to be.

But as the passage shows, God is surprising and He always has something to say. Here, it was about the death and the unanticipated resurrection of Jesus. The Jewish people did not like hearing that the Messiah would die. It was just improper, which is something we do to theology, doctrine, or church practice also. How many times have we shooed away the different, squelched the questions of the alternative, or forced proper dress and talk on people that look different?

We hav done that and more so many times as a Church. On this day of transfiguration, we need to make sure we hear God’s Word (Jesus) over our preferences. There are many things that we would want from theology, but God has spoken and said “Listen to Him, I got His back and like what He is saying.”

So let’s look back not to an “old-fashioned” theology, but an ancient one, that speaks with power into our present. And let’s give up on doctrine that fits only our mold and seems to defy God’s.

And when we see our systems of greed and selfishly trying to define God or trying to be God crumble, we will be in line with God, because God is doing something regardless of what we think. That is part of the point in these passages. The other point is that God wants to include us in His plan. It might not seem like the best plan right now, but it has resurrection and ultimate hope in the end. That is worth giving up your views to buy into God’s.