Transfiguration Luke 9v28-36
The first the traditional reading of Lent, last Sunday is about the wilderness and temptations. Jesus was led into the dry dusty desert. We all have times when we are in a desert place place and we feel alone with no resources.
The devil comes to Jesus with three temptations,
i] To turn stone into bread; will God supply Jesus's needs?
ii] A temptation about power, who has authority over the world;
iii] To use his power for self-glorification.
Jesus' answer to all the temptations is to quote scripture back to Satan. He chooses each time the choice which would not give him fame, or wealth or power but would be a playing out of the plan for his life.
Its a story of a cosmic struggle between the devil and God. As Jesus is sustained and affirmed in the wilderness, so he is sustained through the wilderness of his ministry.
In our own lives we like Jesus face choices. We may feel we have at times entered a desert in our lives. A time of hunger, thirst, dryness. For many people in our society there is no choice. They are in a wilderness. When things go wrong, sickness, worries, the loneliness of wilderness is close to us. We sense beasts. It is a time of polarisation. In the desert we will experience the devil. Doubt about who we are and what we are doing. The powers of darkness will test our faith. But we are not alone. Angels will be with us and the wilderness time will pass.
This second week of Lent we have the story of the Transfiguration. And its a story that is a difficult one for us to identify with. It is other worldly and occurs eight days after Peter's confession at Caesarea Philippi. Two Old Testament stories or motifs are used to draw out the significance of the transfiguration:
i) The Son of man in Daniel (Dan.10:8f);
ii)The Exodus, the theophany on Mount Sinai (Ex.13:20f).
Jesus was praying (prayer often leads to transformation). Moses encountered God after 40 days of fasting and praying and his face shone). The white robes in the story remind us of the white robes of the martyrs in the Book of Revelation and of course of angels. There were also two men as at Jesus' resurrection. The arrival of Moses and Elijah, sanctions Christ as the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets.
But it was a terrifying or aweful experience.
The disciples were very sleepy- they woke up to this dazzling experience. We find the connection with this half-waking sleeping state and visions. As the shiny men were leaving, Peter to want to preserve the moment with the building of three shelters or booths (like the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. His fear led to his desire to preserve the glory of the moment. His words hastened the end of the experience/theophany and a cloud enveloped them like the cloud covering the tabernacle in Exodus and they were afraid as they entered it. The words are heard “This is my Son- whom I have chosen listen to him”, also the words at Jesus' baptism.
There are those who tell me that they can see auras around people which tell you about them, their spiritual disposition their state of health. Some painters would depict people especially holy people with such auras.(El Greco for example). Christ received such an input of divine energy that he shone.
It may be that some of us are lucky enough to have such a mountain experience and it will show in our faces. What is certain is that it will pass and we will once more be faced with the demands of the city. This small group had gone away to pray. The practice of prayer does not guarantee such an experience although strange things may happen to us when we pray. And this may encourage us on our journey.