“Six days after Peter had acknowledged Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, apart.” (Matthew 17:1-9)
Whenever Jesus wanted to teach his disciples, he went up on a mountain, according to Matthew. Remember that Moses went up on a mountain to hear the Lord’s commandments. And so we see Jesus as the new Moses.
Matthew Ch. 5, begins, “Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them.” This is the beginning of what we call the Beatitudes. This teaching goes on all the way through Ch. 7. Climbing mountains gets you closer to Almighty God. It certainly worked for Moses!
Today’s Gospel reading recalls one of the key events in the revelation of the Divinity of Jesus. We call it the Transfiguration, because of the change in the appearance of Jesus.
The Greek word is Metamorpho, from which we get the English word metamorphosis. This comes from two words, meta and morphe.
Meta means: With, as in looking toward the after effect.
Morphe means: taking on the form that properly embodies a particular inner-essence.
Now we get to a definition that means more than just changing one’s appearance.
The Transfiguration of Jesus was not a change into something, or someone, different. Neither was it just about how he looked to the disciples. He took on the form of his true self. His physical, human nature gave way to his Divine nature.
The Transfigured Christ is the bridge between the God the Father and us. His very life given for this purpose. Remember what he said to Nathaniel in John 1:51? Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”
When in the form of his Divinity, he was joined by Moses and Elijah. I wonder what they talked about. Perhaps this meeting was to discuss the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophecy which pointed to the coming of the LORD into the world. Moses and Elijah got to meet the longed for Messiah. Can you imagine their joy?
Rocky, or Peter as some call him, was beside himself. All he can do is to suggest he erect some tents for them to stay in, as if they needed shelter. He wanted to prolong this visit as long as possible.
But Moses and Elijah did not hang around long. This was Jesus’ moment. The voice from the cloud is heard again: “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” Again, God is revealed as the Father.
This is the moment that Jesus showed Peter, James, and John, and us, that he is the way, the truth and the life, and that no one can come to the Father except by him.
No other religious figure even claims to be the ladder, or the bridge, to eternal life with the Father. They may claim some sort of knowledge, or enlightenment, but none other follows Jesus, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God.
This Wednesday we begin our annual journey with Jesus toward his Passion. First we walk with him in the desert, confronting our own demons, or our unconscious selves that drag us down.
I urge you to renew your commitment to walk with Jesus during Lent, starting on Ash Wednesday of this week, and prepare yourselves to receive him into your hearts in a fresh and vital way. Let the Spirit of Christ dwell in you richly as you travel this road with Jesus.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.