A busy pastor once found himself with too many commitments and too little time that caused him to become nervous and tense around his family. He was snapping at his wife and children, choking down his food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated every time there was an unexpected interruption in his day. He would later say that the situation was becoming unbearable. Then, after supper one evening his younger daughter, wanted to tell him something important that had happened to her at school that day. She began hurriedly, “Daddy, I want to tell you something and I’ll tell you really fast.” Realizing her frustration, the pastor answered, “Honey, you don’t have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly.” He has never forgotten her answer: “Then listen slowly.” Today’s story is all about slowing down to the speed of faith, that sometimes moves at a much slower pace that our world does.
In this story can we hear God’s voice saying to us what was said to Peter, James, and John: “This is my Son, listen to him! Slow down. Don’t be so quick to move things your way, to shape the world as you see it Peter. Don’t be so quick to climb the corporate ladder, to join the ‘in-group’ and be number one John. Don’t try to beat your colleagues to the first position James. Slow down. My Son is trying to show you another way, another world, another kingdom – if you will listen slowly.”
Having the heart of Jesus has been the basis of our series of messages these past few weeks as we prepare for Lent and ponder just how would Jesus love and how does he empower and expect us to love like he does? Mylicia first reminded us that Jesus loves us by forgiving the sinner. Then, we considered that Jesus loves us by compassionately breaking bread with us. We then saw how Jesus loved his disciples enough to wash their feet and that Jesus’ love can calm storms of our life. Last week Mylicia reminded us how Jesus’ love raises the dead. This transfiguration weekend, let’s be reminded of how Jesus loves us so much that he reveals his glory to us.
The account of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ is a demonstration to Peter, James and John then, and us today, that Jesus Christ was who He claimed to be: God in flesh, Immanuel (God with us). The word “transfigured” means to transform or to change. The word also means to change into another form or to change the outside to match the inside. In the case of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ it means to match the outside with the reality of the inside. Jesus’ transfiguration displayed his divine Shekinah glory and the 3 disciples couldn’t explain what was happening to him.
Some of life’s experiences are like that – indescribable: the birth of a child, an unexpected promotion, tragedy, etc. The same is true in our faith journey as well. There are times when God surprises us by showing up when we least expect it! Maybe God comes in a time of worship or in our involvement with the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, or serving someone else, or in a song or music, or a movie or a book, or a comment from a perfect stranger, or a dear friend.
There are also times when God surprises us by having us surprise our self too. Those are the moments when we say or do the right thing at the right time without even knowing it. Those surprise moments also come when we discover the strength of God in our own struggles and we say something like, “I never thought I could have done this, and I wouldn’t have without relying upon God.”
The climax of the story comes as God the father speaks and when God finishes speaking Jesus is there all alone – the only one left. Perhaps Mark is suggesting that Jesus is where our focus should be all the time. In other words, the prophesy and the law point to Jesus…alone. Mark wants us to see Jesus – AND ONLY JESUS!
Transfiguration Sunday is the final “weekend” before the beginning of the Lenten season. It is the weekend that we remember who Jesus really, really is before beginning our look forward to Holy Week and the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. What was revealed at his transfiguration to 3 men would be revealed to all persons on Easter morning that reminds us that God’s glory still shines on us and, through faith in Jesus, his glory shines through us.
Three things happened on that mountain 2000 years ago: 1) Jesus was transformed to confirm and to show the disciples who he really was. Jesus continues to do the same with us as well! When we place our trust, faith, hope and joy in Jesus, we discover those “liver shake” surprising moments that affirm our decision to become a disciple.
2) The three disciples were transformed as well. So are we! Our transformation is a life-long journey. It is not promised to be an easy or pain-free or without any struggle. However, our journey has these promises: God will walk with us; God will be our strength in difficult times; God will be the source of wisdom and courage when we are uncertain; and God will never stop loving us – even when we fail, quit or disobey.
3) Each person there was strengthened. Jesus found strength to continue his ministry of sacrifice and redemption. The three disciples found strength for future hope. And I am sure that they used this memory as a place of inspiration and strength to continue on when things got tough for them.
Remember Paul Harvey’s radio program titled The Rest Of The Story? The transfiguration of Jesus was and still is the rest of the story for his disciples then – and today. Reflecting on how Jesus would love invites every disciple to reveal Jesus’ glory through the way we live transformed. Just as with the 3 disciples, If we continue to listen slowly, God wants to change us from within into the persons we were created to always be. The transfiguration of Jesus is a foreshadowing of the transfiguration of you and of me! God’s glory still shines on us and it also shines through us and God’s agape love is the source of our agape living to glorify Jesus every day.