Posts Tagged ‘Hope from the Transfiguration; Zero-Sum Game by Jesus’

Hope From the Transfiguration

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Wednesday of 18th Week of Ordinary Time


 Mt 17: 1-9

Dc. Larry Brockman


Why don’t we take a little pilgrimage together today in our minds. We are going to go up the high mountain with Jesus. We are going along with Peter, James, and John and we are going to see the Lord Jesus transfigured before our very eyes! Then we are going to see what that means to us.


But first, a few words of background. Just before the transfiguration, Jesus had worked a miracle of tremendous magnitude. He had fed 5,000 men, which was really about 15,000 people by the time you include women and children, from just 5 loaves and 2 fish.  It was the only miracle recorded in all 4 Gospels.  Consider how huge this miracle must have been because 15,000 people was one third the population of all of Jerusalem at the time.


Having done such an impressive miracle, Jesus then asks his disciples who he is. Peter, answering for the Apostles, responds rightly that Jesus is the Messiah, and the Son of God. Jesus then tells His disciples that before He comes into His Glory, he must first suffer and die on the Cross. Peter is appalled at this suggestion, and calls Jesus to the side to rebuke Jesus for saying such a thing. In Peter’s mind, such suffering was not becoming for a man of such stature- the long awaited Messiah. And so Jesus remonstrates Peter, even calling him a Satan, for not understanding God’s plan! And so, for six days now Jesus has been revealing God’s plan to the disciples, a plan that includes suffering and death on the cross for Him before experiencing the Resurrection and the glory of the Kingdom of God.  He even tells the disciples their lot will be similar to His!


I am quite certain that by now God has revealed his plan for you.  Everyone here has had far more than six days to understand and appreciate that plan.  In fact, we have all been exposed to that plan for years, some of us 70 years or more, rather than 6 days.  You see, God plays a zero sum game with us.  That means, whatever you did in the past, all he is interested in is getting us to come over to his will in the future.  So, after 60, 70, 80 years, our path has become his path for those who believe and try to do his will.  To be sure, we have experienced joys and good things; but we have all had our share of trials and tribulations, and pains and suffering.  We have all had to make sacrifices to live our faith.  We can all appreciate Jesus’ words that the son of man must first suffer.  We all know that Peter was indeed mistaken when he rebuked Jesus and that Jesus was right.


But here we are, still living that path after all the years of trials and tribulations.  And most of us are not as limber as we once were.  So, how about the glory for us?  Can we have a glimpse of what is coming for all of us who have been faithful?  And will that make a difference?


During that six days after the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Jesus did promise his disciples a glimpse of that Glory.  And the Transfiguration is the glimpse He gave them.  That glimpse of the coming glory represents hope; hope that by living the good news of the Gospel by accepting our crosses and making sacrifices accordingly.  Then we will be glorified with Jesus in the Kingdom to come.  And that glory will be so intense and last forever that any and all tribulations of life will pale by comparison.

So, let’s see if we can sense the glory to come by walking in the shoes of Peter, James and John as they experienced the Transfiguration some six days after they were promised a sign.


First, we are going to ascend a high mountain.  You people are going to have to work with me here on this part.  We aren’t going to be able to just walk peacefully up a ramp to get to the top of the mountain.  No sir!  We have to struggle to climb a high mountain.  It is a stretch; it is not easy; we will get tired and worn out.  For some of us, it has already been a 70 or 80 year climb.  That has been enough of a struggle and tiring enough hasn’t it.


Now notice that Jesus took just three of his disciples because that was the proper number for a legal witness to an event- three witnesses!  And there are three Gospel accounts of this event, also.  So, it’s legal! It has been officially witnessed that this happened.  You know why Jesus did that, had three witnesses?  So that we would recognize that it was true, hard as it is to believe.  Yes, it is something we just have to believe; we take it on Faith even though we were not there to see it first-hand because we believe in Jesus and he went to the trouble to assure there were three witnesses!


So now, let us get to experience the transfiguration.  Imagine that as we are climbing alongside of Jesus, Peter, James, and John to experience the transfiguration with them,

we see that they are just 4 ordinary human beings walking, climbing the hill of life.  But now we come to the top of the mountain with them, and suddenly Jesus is transfigured before our eyes so that his face shines brightly and he is dressed in a dazzling pure white gown that radiates light, goodness, and glory- not just any ordinary brightness, but a dazzling brightness, brighter than anything you have seen, a knock your socks off type brightness.  Notice that this is a glory that comes from within Jesus, the glory of Almighty God in all its purity and love; and it is overwhelming!  Are you overwhelmed yet?


We are seeing what has been veiled all along as we walked up the mountain because of Jesus’ humanity.  The story of His life that we read in the Gospels is so human isn’t it- born in a stable; growing up as a carpenter; hanging out with a group of fisherman; dying a horrible painful death on a cross.  We have trouble thinking of Him as divine.  But now, in this vision, it is easy to see His divinity in the radiance of His transfigured face and clothes.  He has moved beyond the pain and suffering and he is on the other side.  We know that because we have also seen Him as the Resurrected Lord.  How truly magnificent that is.


But let’s get back to the story.  Before we can react to this vision, we see something else.  We see Moses and Elijah standing there talking to Jesus.  No kidding- Moses and Elijah all dressed up like royalty are there.  Moses, who gave the people the Law of God; and Elijah, who was a prince among the prophets are there.  They are standing there transfigured as well; radiant and bright; talking to Jesus who stands out amongst them.  Only their radiance is a gift; it comes from the outside of them and shines on them.  It doesn’t come from within them because only God radiates that kind of joy, light, and peace.


They are talking to Jesus about how he will suffer and die in Jerusalem.  Moses is validating that all of this will be done in accordance with the Law he received from God the Father.  Elijah validates that his prophecies and the prophecies of all the prophets will be met.

And so Moses and Elijah in their glorified state, are bearing witness to the testimony of Jesus from the last 6 days to his disciples, that he, Jesus, would have to suffer and die before experiencing His ultimate glory.


The ethereal nature of the scene begins now to dawn on Peter, James, and John now.   Peter, well-meaning though he may be, says something really dumb:  “It is good for us to be here; let us build three tents, one for each of you”.  As if the glory of God that is shining forth from Jesus, and shining on Moses, and Elijah needs to be protected by tents; as if Peter, James, and John can hope to contain this glory all for themselves by taking up residence on this mountain, and just staying there forever as they wanted.


How about you and I!  What are we thinking as we experience this scene!  Are we, like Peter, so taken by the heavenly feeling of the moment,  that we would try to constrain it just for ourselves?  Or are we so exuberant we want to share it with everyone else  so they, too can experience the joy?


But then, behold, the third heavenly witness besides Moses and Elijah enters the scene.  Because a bright cloud casts a shadow over them, and God the Father’s voice is heard from inside that cloud.  A piercing, penetrating voice like thunder says:“ This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; listen to him”.  At this, Peter, James, and John prostrate themselves

Overcome with fear and respect.


I am certain I would have done the same.  How about you?  And I am also certain that this would have been enough.  I have seen what glory awaits Jesus after He completes His mission; and I understand that by promise, the same glory that is resting on Moses and Elijah awaits us who follow Jesus as well.  And now I have heard God the Father with unmistakable clarity.  I have seen and heard enough to know that this glory has existed for thousands upon thousands of years; even millions and millions of years, and in fact forever.  Forever!


So, what is next?  Well, in a flash, it is all over.  Jesus is standing there alone- no Moses, no Elijah, no glorified body, no cloud, no God the Father.  Jesus taps Peter, James, and John, and you and I as well, and says “Let’s go”.  Yes, let’s go, there is still much to do because unlike Peter, James, and John, we are not being asked to keep it all a secret.  It is after the Resurrection for us, and we are being sent forth as witnesses to tell the whole world.


How do we do that?  We are all, after all, witnesses.  We have heard the call and lived the life- 60, 70, 80 years or more of it.  And we still have Life and we still have Faith.

But even more to the point, now we have seen the glory of the Lord.  We know that we are in the midst of the Kingdom right now.  We have closed our eyes and have seen it, felt it with our hearts  We have seen how we are destined to be transfigured ourselves.

No matter how much longer we have to wait, it is worth it.  Because we know that those who believe and follow will be in glory with God Forever.  Amen!