Sermon, Transfiguration Sunday
February 11, 2018. St Petri.
Mark 9:2-132 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.5 Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: ‘This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!’8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what ‘rising from the dead’ meant.11 And they asked him, ‘Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?’12 Jesus replied, ‘To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? 13 But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.’http://stpetri.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/20180211_message.mp3
The Lord is always close to us. It is just that he is hidden in things we do not expect. Sometimes he has to simply open the curtain a little to let us in on his stunning presence; to let us know that he is right here with us as he promised. So Transfiguration Day comes…..
The curtain is drawn back in a special way for just a minute in time for three flabbergasted guys. The special man of God is revealed in the glory from which he came, and three blokes seeing it are tongue-tied and rather dazed by the brilliance of it. How long has it been since you were flabbergasted by the presence of the same Saviour man, Jesus?
These three have followed Jesus for a while now and they have followed him up this hill today. All the ‘bells and whistles’ of divine experience are coming their way.
It is an ancient experience reborn.
Moses and Elijah are there: two men of the Old Era who were taken to the Lord’s heaven without being dead and buried like the rest of us. Elijah went bodily into heaven (2 Kings 2:9-12) and Moses’ grave was never found (he was buried by God himself in Deuteronomy 34:4-7). As a result of their special departures, many Jewish people believed that these two could return to announce God’s new reign was at hand. And here that reign is, up on the hill – Jesus.
But what about those three tents or “booths” Peter asks about? People often say that Peter was stunned like a rabbit in the head lights and just blurting out some nonsensical stuff to try and make the moment last. Maybe. But maybe he is doing a lot more thoughtful thing as he says that the three amigos should built some booths to stay in.
According to some Jewish expectation of the day, and as stated in the book of Zechariah (see 14:16-21), God would usher in the “Day of the Lord,” during the Feast of Booths.
The Feast of Booths was upon them. Surely Moses, Elijah, and Jesus need not construct their own booths for the celebration. The three other amigos will do it!
And what about blinding dazzling light? Remember Moses and his dazzling face transformed by being in the presence of God (Exodus 34:2, 29-35). After Moses has been in conversation with God about the future life of God’s people, he descends from the mountain so reflecting the light of God’s glory that he must cover his face lest he frighten the children – not to mention his wife!
Similar in Daniel. In Daniel the “Son of Man” is also dazzling white. The mysterious messianic figure who will bring about God’s will and God’s justice, is a supernaturally stunning figure (Daniel 7:9-14).
And what about all in the cloud? The Shekinah. The ‘glory cloud’ that was there when it really counted – The Red sea crossing (Exodus 14). Every day of the desert journey (Exodus 13:21). The day the Tabernacle was dedicated as God’s dwelling place (Numbers 9:15), on Mt Sinai at the giving of the 10 Commandments and the feast of the Elders in God’s presence (Deuteronomy 5), the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem by King Solomon (1 Kings 8).
With all these bells and whistles, it was easy to remember. The gospel writers record it in their proclaiming of Jesus. Peter obviously never forgot it because he reflects on it later in his second letter (1 Peter 2:16-18).