The Transfiguration

Psalm 99, Exodus 34:29–35, 2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2, Luke 9:28–36

Sometimes things we are unaware of about ourselves become a separator be us and others. Imagine Moses already feeling the pressure of leading these people. The strain of leadership along with the regular stubbornness of the Israelites would always keep some separation between Moses and the people. In addition, Moses’ history as part of Pharoh’s household would always be an underlying issue. Now Moses presented himself before God, and he was changed. He was physically different in such a way as apparently people avoided looking at his face. Moses then put on clothing (a veil) that physically and psychologically separated him from his people. We all want to not have to wear masks. We all want to be able to be ourselves with others. Moses no longer had that option. He had to wear a mask (the veil) so that people would interact with him. Moses was blessed to be able to have such an intimate relationship with God. On the other hand, because of that relationship with God, Moses’ relationship with the people was not so good, as they struggled with it.

Paul uses this example to help explain the way it was in comparison to the new life in Christ. The new life in Christ is where each person, not a single individual, has a relationship with God. In addition, instead of having an outward sign (though still possible), it was now an inward work. As it is now God working inside of us, we are freed from the “veil” that separates our “normal” life from a life with God. However, sometimes we become confused as to how it works (which is easy to do).

Peter, John, and James accompanied Jesus up the mountain. There was obviously an expectation that this would be a time of reflection and especially prayer. A time of confrontation was not expected by Jesus’ followers. They saw Jesus change from a man to something more. As men steeped in the lessons of the Jews, they would have understood that this is the glory that people experienced when looking at Moses, and yet it was not just Jesus’ face. His entire being and even his clothes were transformed. Adding to the reality of this, Moses (the venerated first prophet) and Elijah (the prophet that was to precede the Messiah) were present. This was beyond any and all expectation.

Whether the men wanted this experience to continue, or whether they were trying to be respectful, it doubt strange to build shelters. On the other hand, the expectation of being able to visit the great men of Israel (Jesus included) would have been a transformative thing for the entire community, yet it was not to be. The presence of Moses and Elijah accompanying Jesus was not to establish the wise men of Israel but to establish Jesus’ rightful place. the last words to Peter, James, and John, though, was the real lesson. This was the teaching that the prophets and Jesus were handing off the leadership of the new covenant to the next leaders.

Peter, James, and John were selected. Despite their future failings, there were still the ones that would be leaders of the community that was coming. They would be bearers of God’s grace, truth, love, and freedom. Their personal relationship with Jesus showing that anyone can have a personal relationship with God.

1) What “veils” exist in your spiritual life?

2) What things, opportunities, habits, people keep you from relating to others and God?

3/FD) What lessons can you learn from Peter, James, and John in this event they experienced?