Reader: “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”
Response: “Listen to him.”
Scripture: Matthew 17:1-9
Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.
Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.
Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus.
As they went back down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Reader: The word of the Lord
Response: Thanks be to God.
What would have it been like for you to travel with the famous Jesus? He was a rock star. Great crowds of people showed up wherever you all went. You were a part of his inner circle. You saw the miracles with your own eyes. You got to spend lots of time with him. You even got to do a few miracles yourself! A pretty heady time for the disciples.
Jesus often referred to himself in the third person as the Son of Man. In fact, just before the passage of Scripture you just read, he had asked his disciples this pointed question, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Peter (of course) answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” He then told the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah! Strange. A short time later comes what is called the Transfiguration. Jesus took his inner circle, Peter, James, and John with him to a mountain top. While there, the three got a brief glimpse of the divine nature and brilliant glory of Jesus. They got a faint peek through the veil. Elsewhere, we read that the conversation among Moses (the Law Giver) and Elijah (the Prophet of the Messiah’s coming) and Jesus was concerning his soon departure (the actual word is “his exodus”) from this world. In essence, Jesus was about to fulfill the Law and the Prophets once for all. Do you see how this event tied the Old Testament and the New Testament together? We read in Deuteronomy that there must be two witnesses to verify the truth of a matter. Here we have perhaps the two greatest men of the First Testament bearing witness to the identity of Jesus as the Son of God and affirming his mission. Moses led the first Exodus from slavery to freedom in a shadow of what was to come. Moses died looking into the Promised Land and was buried in an unknown grave by God himself. You’ll recall Elijah did not die, but was taken by a chariot of fire straight to heaven. Here the disciples saw Moses and Elijah coming from that Promised Land, heaven itself, to comfort and give solace to Jesus as he prepares to give his life as the ultimate Lamb of God in freeing all peoples from the bondage of sin. Then we read again that Jesus told these three to say nothing of what they had seen and heard. Why? It was not yet God the Father’s timing. Why did these three get to see this event and not the other disciples? After the resurrection and ascension, Peter, James, and John assumed significant leadership in the early days of the church. They referred to seeing Jesus’ glory (2 Peter 1:16-21) and cited the experience as giving them greater confidence in the truth of Jesus as the Son of God as they led the early church. What does this have to do with Lent? We see here again the great and detailed care God gave in bringing redemption to all tribes, tongues and nations. A plan begun before the dawn of creation was coming to the pivotal point. God is in the details, then and now. The End will surely come. Glory!
Music: “Sanctus” from Requiem Durufle
“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts. Heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Hosanna in the highest.”
Lord Jesus, until the day when we see Thee face to face in all Thy glory, when we don’t have to come down the mountain but dwell in Thy presence forever, when we see what we’ve never even conceived, when we hear music that our ears have never even imagined, when the whole world sees the glory of the glorious Son of God, until then may we be faithful. May we not keep quiet, but go into all our world preaching the great Good News of redemption in Christ in deeds, in words and in demeanor. Amen.