Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Transfiguration

Fr. Dale Matson
“Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.” (Matt. 17:1-2, NASB).

In my sermon preparation this week I struggled with the temptation to use the Epistle lesson from Philippians (3: 7-14). In this passage Paul described his trials in such personal and human terms. He used “I” statements thirteen times in describing his total abandonment of his prior life under the law. He now through faith sought the pearl of great price Jesus Christ, wanting to know Him only.

However, the Old Testament lesson was a parallel account to the Gospel lesson with Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 24:12-18), the Collect was about the Transfiguration and even the Psalm (99) talked about the glory of the Lord and His speaking from the pillar of cloud (v. 7). It is so much easier to understand, identify with and explain the struggles of Paul and even the human moments in the life of Jesus than it is to grasp the Glory and majesty of God in the person of Christ. It is in the moments where the miraculous happens to Christ that He seems so different and unapproachable and we seem so unable to respond or even comprehend. Unlike Moses, His glory was not a reflected radiance.

In the story of the road to Emmaus in Luke (24:13-35) Jesus walked with two of His followers, “but they were kept from recognizing Him” (v. 16). It is only later in the breaking of bread that “…their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.” (v.35). Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine. Christ could make himself anonymous and once He allowed his true glory to manifest itself to three of his disciples. John and Peter both later wrote about the Transfiguration. John stated in his Gospel, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (1:14). Peter related the following, “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased"-- and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy Mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16-18).

In the book of Revelation St. John described another encounter with the Glorified Christ. “His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man And He placed His right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.” (Rev. 14-18a).

He is not only the friend we have in Jesus whom we love. He is the eternal glorious God who is awful in His majesty and we fall on our faces in fear. He is so much more than we can ever imagine. Someday He will allow us also to see Him as He is in the fullness of His glory. May His holy name be forever praised. Amen

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