Tuesday 3 August 2021

       The Feast of the Transfiguration is held on Friday 6th August 2021   

                     The story of the Transfiguration of Jesus

This is one of the most dramatic stories in the Bible. It comes just after Jesus had been asking his Apostles who they thought he was, and received Peter’s great confession and after he had told them he was on the way to the Cross to die and then be raised.

 Jesus’ transfiguration gives a glimpse into his divine nature, and it is followed by a continual struggle against evil.  We are told of the radiant and divine glory of Jesus as the Son of God.  He is greater than Moses who represented the Jewish Law, and also greater than Elijah who represented the prophets.  Whereas Moses radiance reflects God’s glory, Jesus radiates the light from heaven.  Moses and Elijah are not reincarnations, but come from being in the presence of God.

Jesus wanted to be alone on the mountain top and took with Him on the journey three Apostles with whom He appeared to have a special relationship, namely Peter, James and John; these three Apostles were also with Jesus when He raised Jairus’ daughter, and in His agony in the garden. The mountain was thought to be Mount Hermon, one so high it could be seen from many miles away. The climb must have been strenuous for Luke tells us they were feeling sleepy and tired.

Jesus was going up the mountain that He might receive God’s confirmation that it was the intention for Him to go to the Cross. Jesus we find always was anxious to consult with God at His every step. Here is a lesson and good advice for us.

For many years I went to Scotland, and up in the Highlands you can go up the Cairngorms on the mountain railway, and whilst there is the obligatory shop and cafĂ©, there is also a balcony. You can there gaze down on scenery unsurpassed in any other country, and see one of God’s most glorious creations. You can feel close to God on a mountain top, away from the ordinary things of life.

 Mountains figure conspicuously in the Bible.  It was on Mount Sinai that Moses received the Commandments; Mount Horeb that God soke to Elijah. Jesus we are told was transfigured on this mountain, meaning his appearance changed.  There he met two of Israel’s great names, Moses who brought the law from God and Elijah the supreme prophet through whom God spoke, and they discussed the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem

Many people are puzzled as to how God speaks to men and they scoff at such talk.  I believe some of  what is claimed to be from God is self-manipulated.  I once visited a Theological College where ordinands were completing their training and I was surprised to learn how God had told so many were to go to the South of England to minister.  I began to wonder why God wasn’t interested in the North of the country.!

 God speaks to us in several ways.  Sometimes it is through a preacher. I had a lady in my parish who came to Church infrequently, and one time she told me I always seemed to be getting at her. I told here that as I prepared beforehand and never knew when she was coming, it may be that someone higher than me was getting at her.

 A lot of people were converted by one of the posters containing Scriptural messages placed by the London City Mission in Tube Stations. Sometimes God speaks through our consciences when we pray about something. And an answer comes into our minds, not always perhaps the answer we want to hear. Although probably for our ultimate good.

When Peter realised what was happening he offered to build three tabernacles for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. He was struck with awe and wanted to prolong the experience, and offered to build three tabernacles. Jesus rebuked him for he was in error in that he was equating Jesus with Moses and Elijah.  

 Peter and his companions did not grasp the greatness of the Messiah, and Peter saw Jesus as someone similar to Moses and Elijah, and by wanting to build tents, was wanting to prolong this experience without realising what he is saying, for he was probably overcome. We all like to feel we are on top of the world both figuratively and actually, but most of us live their lives more realistically on the level or down in a valley.

Jesus commanded that they tell no one in order to stop a popular movement that would make him into a political freedom fighter, so blocking his path to suffering and dying to save his people. The disciples did not then understand what was meant by the term ‘rising from the dead’, but they expected the resurrection of all mankind at the end of the age after the coming of Elijah as told in the Old Testament. 

The passage ends telling John the Baptist restored all things preparing the  coming of Jesus the ultimate restorer.  Both Jesus and John the Baptist suffered contempt for the prophets Isaiah and  Malachi had forecast the coming of Elijah as preparing the way for Jesus.  Many people thought John was Elijah by the misunderstanding of the people, but it was not intended Elijah would personally appear. 

The lesson of the Transfiguration is that we must always let God speak to us and follow His Word; He has a plan for all our lives. When we turn to Him we too can reach a mountain top, but also we can close our minds to Him and lie in the valley.

 The lesson of the Transfiguration is that we must always let God speak to us and follow His Word; He has a plan for all our lives. When we turn to Him we too can reach a mountain top, but also we can close our minds to Him and lie in the valley.

This passage tells of Moses who hd died many years before, as did Elijah, yet they are alive but in glory.  This tells us that when our last breath is breathed in this life, there is another world beyond the grave where Jesus will be with us.                               

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