THE DAZZLING REVELATION ON THE MOUNTAIN
HANDMAID Lenten '17 Reflection Series
BY CYNTHIA NEBO
So it's the 2nd week of lent now; and maybe you're already thinking Lent has been going on longer than a week and a half; coming across some tough points in your efforts in fasting; maybe even wishing Easter Sunday would come already so that Jesus would have resurrected and saved us so we can all go back to our normal routines and creature comforts! (God forgive us!)
So a word of encouragement and reflection for us all as we continue our Lenten battle:
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became as dazzling as light. And suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared to them; they were talking with him. Then Peter spoke to Jesus. 'Lord,' he said, 'it is wonderful for us to be here; if you want me to, I will make three shelters here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.' He was still speaking when suddenly a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and suddenly from the cloud there came a voice which said, 'This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.' When they heard this, the disciples fell on their faces, overcome with fear. But Jesus came up and touched them, saying, 'Stand up, do not be afraid.' And when they raised their eyes they saw no one but Jesus. As they came down from the mountain Jesus gave them this order, 'Tell no one about this vision until the Son of man has risen from the dead. Matthew 17: 1-9
Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up the mountain for a reason; they were the right people for that moment, for that revelation.
We can always wonder why that person is chosen for this reward, opportunity, etc.; But Jesus always knows! Knows what we are ready for and what we are not. Trust His judgment; He knows who we are better than we know ourselves!
And the mountain; such a glorious revelation couldn't have been truly appreciated and received on flat ground, it seems…
Jesus took the three out of their comfort zones (climbing a mountain is no easy feat in itself!) It is only once we are out of our comfort zones that we realise our need to rely and depend on God the most clearly. And so he calls us out of our comfort zones also this Lent.
And he was transfigured before them:
Imagine seeing this man; who by his life and his works and his word we already believe to be the Christ; literally show himself in the light of true divinity and Glory!
Well, this is what happens! Jesus' change in appearance is the bodily manifestation of His glory and power as King of Heaven; and he entrusts this revelation to the eyes of these mere three men. He is not only confirms their beliefs, their ministry, their faith in Him; but he also shows them the path by which he will fulfil this title and attain his glory; by his sufferings.
Moses and Elijah appeared to him.
They weren't stopping by for a quick chat/mentor session! The one to symbolise the Law and the one to symbolise the great prophets gone before Jesus; they both bring to culmination the Law and prophecies from the Old Testament, to point to the One who will bring it all into order and fulfilment: Jesus Messiah.
Jesus shows us today on this mountain that he is with us; he wants to be alone with us and he has come to save us. He let us in on the mission to comfort us and give us hope; hope enough to endure the sufferings that are to come; But how do we do this? I mean, even Peter got it wrong here. He wanted to stay on this moment of glory; a moment that so terrified him, that he wanted to occupy himself with building three tents.
Yes, Peter and the disciples misunderstood what to do with this revelation. And we too often misunderstand what the extent of his revelation is, and how we are to respond during this season and throughout our lives...
But we are shown what to do in the very next movements of this gospel...
...a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said,
"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.
The clouds that cover our lives (our worries; distractions etc.) and the shadows that overwhelm us (our troubles, our sins, our heavy burdens) are present and are always there to loom over us; yet the Lord's voice can speak through even these and in spite of these; God's voice is always there to guide the way to Jesus. It is Jesus who 'enjoys' God's favour. And we who have the Spirit of Jesus can also enjoy God's favour! Let us allow Him to show us how;
Jesus came and touched them, saying, 'Stand up, do not be afraid.'
Jesus is always there to touch us and bring us out of our overwhelming fear; and when we follow His Word and look up to him, we too will see no one but Jesus. So let us be overcome with awe. To keep our wonder at this Almighty God who is always just a breath away; just down the road in the nearest tabernacle; up every mountain and in every valley.
And our biggest challenge from this gospel; Jesus told the disciples to tell none about their experiences.
until the son of man has risen from the dead
Not only did they not fully understand what this meant; but are you kidding me Jesus! This life altering experience on a mountain has just happened and you want us to keep it a secret! We can only imagine the divine patience and temperance that must have accompanied these disciples not to shout about it to everyone they saw, even the other disciples. And so this teaches us; there are some moments, some experiences, some revelations that God wants to give to us and us alone; God wants us to take it in, to process it; not to lose the preciousness of the moment by sharing it straight away.
So as we continue to journey through lent, let us be steadfast in our observances; the comfort zones that we have committed to step out of; with the assurance that we step towards Jesus Messiah. Let us be aware and open to every revelation God has for us; big and small. Let us savour them; allow ourselves to experience them without needing to busy ourselves with 'building tents'. And we ask that Jesus, King of Heaven, you will help us to open ourselves to the voice of God, to allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by awe of you; to trust in your mission and be strengthened in our belief, our ministry, our faith in You; and give us the strength and courage to stand up without fear even in times of suffering, as we look up towards the face of you, our saviour. Amen