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Second Week of Lent

Lk. 9:28-36

When I think of the Transfiguration I consider myself a very fortunate person. When I visited Mount Tabor for the first time it was in the evening and in all my life I had never witnessed such a red sunset. It was so easy to imagine what happened on that mountain on this occasion.

The reason why Jesus took Peter, James and John to the top of the mountain was to show them Who He really was – not just a great prophet, but God’s own Son. Because Jesus is God He is always surrounded with radiant light, but when He became Man He concealed that light. Today He allowed His three Apostles to see this light. He did this for two reasons. Six days ago Peter had declared that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Now He was revealing this, His glory, to him. Also, very shortly He was going to meet His death and His Apostles would find this very hard to accept. This revelation of His glory was to help them not to lose heart in Whom He really is.

This event has something in common with His Agony in the Garden. On both occasions Jesus took the same three Apostles; He took them so that they could be alone and pray; on both occasions the Apostles fell asleep. There was one great difference. On Mount Tabor He manifested the radiant glory of His Godhead and in the Garden He revealed His Manhood. He showed He was really frightened at the ordeal He was soon to face.

On Mount Tabor Moses and Elijah appeared with Him. Why these two? Moses represented the Law. God gave him the Law on two tablets of stone. Elijah represented the Prophets. Their appearance was to tell us that Jesus was the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets. Jesus Himself said, “I have not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfil them.” (Mt. 5:17) The Father’s voice was heard singling out Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah who possessed Divine Authority.

When Peter suggested making three shelters he may have been thinking of the Feast of Tabernacles, when shelters were set up to commemorate the Exodus, God’s deliverance of the people from the slavery in Egypt. Peter wanted to keep Moses and Elijah with them, but this was not what God wanted. Peter’s desire to build three tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah may also show his understanding that real faith is built on three cornerstones: the Law, the Prophets and Jesus. Peter was to grow in his understanding and one day he would write of Jesus as the ‘chief cornerstone.’ (1Peter 2:6)

Peter, James and John experienced a wonderful moment on the mountain, and they didn’t want to leave. All of us at some time have had that joyful mountain top experience. It may be a beautiful friendship or the view of a glorious sunset. We should hold on to them in our memory and recall them in moments of desolation so that we know God is with us and we shall one day share His glory, the glory He displayed on this occasion.

When we enjoy such an inspiring experience we want to stay where we are and never want it to end, away from the reality and problems of our daily lives. Knowing that struggles await us in the valley encourages us to linger on the mountain top. Staying on the mountain prohibits our ministering to others. Instead of becoming spiritual giants, we would soon be dwarfed by our own self-centredness. We need to have that right balance in life, times for retreat and renewal and then with our new gained strength to return to the world and minister to it.

As God’s Son, Jesus has God’s power and authority and so His words should be our final authority. If a person’s teaching is true, it will agree with Jesus’ teachings, and we will not be led astray. Let us not be too hasty to seek advice and guidance from merely human sources and so neglect Christ’s message.

God clearly identified Jesus as His Son before saying that Peter and the others were to listen to Jesus and not to their own ideas and desires. The ability to follow Jesus comes from confidence about Who He is. If we believe He is God’s Son, then we will surely want to follow Him and do what He says.

Lord Jesus, we thank you for sharing this glorious experience with us. In moments of hardship in our lives to recognise You as God’s Son who can see us through every trial. May we take to heart the words of Your Father to listen to You.

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