Sunday 26 February 2017

Bible Book:

“And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.” (vv. 2-3)

Matthew 17:1-9 Sunday 26 February 2017

Psalm: Psalm 99


This is an interesting passage, and a challenging one tointerpret and fit into the scheme of Christian worship. What are weto make of it, and how does it inform our understanding of thenature and person of Christ?

What is actually happening to Jesus in this passage? This is aman who is, we believe, both fully human and fully divine. Perhaps,then, in this mountain-top moment, his divinity is shining out,bursting through his human exterior. This is the way in which JohnWesley seems to have understood it (in his Explanatory Notes on theNew Testament) and it has some appeal, especially if we are tryingto imagine the human life which can contain the full glory of God.But isn't this precisely the mystery of the incarnation - that thehumanity of Jesus, in some inexplicable way, meets the fulldivinity of God? We need, perhaps, to be careful that we are notseeing his humanity as some kind of shell or veil for his true,divine identity. Jesus is as fully human as he is fully divine.That is the paradox at the centre of the Gospels.

And perhaps it is precisely that paradox which holds the clue tothe Transfiguration. Maybe this is one of the extraordinaryconsequences of this unique meeting of humanity and divinity. WhereGod is fully present in human life, there we should expect theunexpected. The Gospels are full of stories of the inexplicable -healings, miracles, resurrection. In Jesus' encounters withordinary, everyday life (people, water, bread, fish, storms…), theordinary is made extraordinary. And so it is with our everydayencounters with him now, in bread and wine, in prayer, inconversations and relationships.

Finally, perhaps the Transfiguration is in some way a model ofhuman transformation. As we encounter God in the everyday, weshould expect to be transformed by that encounter. The moreChrist-like we become, the more God's glory will be revealed in andthrough us.

To Ponder

  • How did the disciples recognise Moses and Elijah? What do youthink is the significance of their presence?
  • In verse 9, Jesus orders them not to tell anyone about thevision "until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead".Why do you think this is? What do you think they made of thisinstruction?
  • What do you think is the meaning and significance of thisstory? Why do the Gospel writers include it? What impact do youthink they intend it to have on our life and faith?
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