Day 16 (Saturday) - Matthew 17:1-13

Peter has confessed who Jesus is.

Jesus has declared who Peter is. 

And now Jesus, along with his three closest friends, head to to a high mountain to be alone. The whole scene smacks of Sinai, when long, long ago, Moses took his friends up to a high mountain, and for 6 days, the Shekinah cloud covered the tent while Moses heard the voice of God speaking. 

Artwork by George Courage

Artwork by George Courage

Jesus, the new Moses, the perfect Lawgiver and Lawkeeper and Lawfullfiller....this is his moment of inauguration, "This is the time. This is God coming into his kingdom." And at this moment, the promise that a King, the King is finally being fulfilled. 

This is not the first time Jesus has found himself on a high mountain. Satan led him up to one once, showed him all the kingdoms of the world that could be his. And here, Jesus comes back to survey his Kingdom and claim it, but not through power or military might, not through worship of the world or Satan himself, but through suffering. It is a different kind of glory.

And in that - choosing the path of suffering rather than the path of a conquering hero - Jesus is transfigured and his disciples, transfixed. Jesus appears like Moses did, face radiant. He's beaming. Literally. Jesus, who comes in glory, was preparing to suffer. 

Jesus hasn't changed, but his disciples suddenly understand him differently. They can finally see Jesus as he really is, they can see what they will look like one day when they live into their call as disciples. Because the people of God look like Christ does - they shine. He is, in and of himself, a vision of radiant glory, shining through his humanity. Jewish tradition said that the priestly Messiah would shine like the sun, and so he did. And so he does.

To his right and to his left, James and John notice, are prophets. Elijah was a prophet who was said to come before the Messiah, to prepare the Way.  He’d been the guardian of the Law, passing the baton to one greater than he. it would have been a breathtaking moment. 

And Peter throws out an idea he thinks is probably pretty good. Let me help you guys camp out, Jesus. 

But it just shows how little he understands. Sweet, sweet Simon Peter, bless your heart. You come with the best of intentions, truly, but you’re always missing the point. Jesus is not on the same plane as the other two. 

And he’s interrupted by a voice - the Voice - the only one, probably, that could be louder than Peter's, reaffirming Jesus’ identity as he’s about to go to the cross. 

It’s the Ear Worm of God, just before the cross. The transfiguration is a reiteration of Christ’s baptism, when his identity and his call were most clear. And it is a reiteration of the desert temptation, when his identity and call were most questioned. 

This is my Son, the beloved, in whom I am well-pleased. 

Pastor Brynn Harrington

Consider:

We’re not quite halfway to Resurrection Sunday, but almost. Let’s revisit your Ear Worms. Have they changed at all during Lent so far? What Ear Worms are you still hearing that are unhelpful or untrue? How have your Ear Worm narratives changed?

Pray:

Lord Jesus, image of the invisible God, radiant Son of Man in power and glory, let my life reflect the splendor of your mercy and grace. To you be the honor and the power and the glory now and forever. Amen.

Embody:

Solvitur ambulando. Hiking up a mountain. Walking has taken a prominent theme the past two days. Today, walk at least one mile and pray as you go. Where do you see Jesus as you go?  What are you walking away from that Jesus is calling you towards? Walk. It is solved by walking. 

Pastor Aaron Engler


Endnotes:

  1. Ex. 24:1-18.
  2. Heb. 1:1-19.
  3. Phil. 2:15.
  4. Mal. 4:2.
  5. Mal. 4:5.