"Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.”
Do you wish you could have seen Jesus in the flesh? Do you wish you could have heard him teaching the crowds, seen him heal a leper or a blind man? I sure do. The original disciples, of course, got to see Jesus every day. They walked the roads of Palestine with him, ate with him, listened to his teachings, and observed his miracles. They saw his gentleness with children and his compassion with the sick. They saw him raise the dead, calm the seas, walk on water, and feed thousands. They thought they had seen everything but there was more; something that only three of the disciples would see.
In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a high mountain. There were twelve disciples, of course, but these three were Jesus' inner circle; his favorites. In the Bible, mountains are often where people encounter God. Abraham and Moses encountered God on the Mountain, as did many of the prophets. In his now-famous speech, Martin Luther King said he had been to the mountaintop. Even in Native American culture, people go up to the "high places," the mountain tops to be near, and experience the Creator of all things.
But what happened on the mountaintop that day? Peter, James, and John were given the privilege of seeing a glimpse of Jesus' true self. God let these three disciples in on a little secret: Jesus was more than a man, more than a good teacher, more than a healer. Jesus was the Son of God. That was confirmed, not only by Jesus' shining face and dazzling clothes, not only by the presence of great men of the past but also by the voice of God, saying, "This is my beloved Son; listen to him!"
It was important for those three disciples to understand Jesus' true nature because Jesus' life was about to move in a new direction. After this mountaintop experience, Jesus would begin his preparation for the cross. Although Peter, James, and John would not understand who Jesus was until after the resurrection, this little glimpse of his glory on the mountain would help them to prepare for what would transpire in the months to come.
These three disciples and others like them would have to carry the message to a waiting world once Jesus ascended back into heaven. And if his message of hope were going to continue, it would be through the testimony of his disciples that eyes would be opened, and his glory revealed. Jesus entrusted these ordinary men with the awesome task of carrying his precious Gospel to others. Not through their own power, but by the infilling of his spirit projecting through their willing hearts.
Through the transfiguration on the mountain that day, Peter, James, and John see in Jesus the very life and love of God that dwelled within him. That same divinity dwells within each one of us today, calling us to "transfigure" our lives and our world in God's compassion, justice, and reconciliation. In realizing that sense of God's life and love within us, we can become a means of "transfiguration," enabling others to realize the holiness and grace that exists within them, and thereby enabling all of us to transform despair into hope, sadness into joy, anguish into healing, estrangement into community. All by allowing God's infilling Spirit to speak through our willing hearts.
The weeks ahead call us to the mountaintop with Christ, to embrace the sacred goodness and value within each one of us; the value that enables us to realize the Easter promise in our own lives and to share that promise with others. Let God fill our lives with purpose this morning. In fact, let us begin each day of this Lenten Season by asking God to show us his will for our life, then give us the courage and strength to do what we are called to do that day; become the person God calls us to be. May the love of Christ and the peace that only he can bring fill our hearts each day as we continue our journey toward Easter morning and beyond. May God speak through our willing hearts.
by Rev. Jack Miller based on Mark 9:2-10
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