Wednesday 02 November 2016

Bible Book:

“As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’” (v. 9)

Matthew 17:9-13 Wednesday 2 November 2016

Psalm: Psalm38:10-22


We return today to the narrative around the transfiguration ofJesus on the mountain. This week's readings feel like a biblicalversion of the Three Peak Challenge! We move from a mountain top toa valley, coming back down to earth to face the consequences ofrecognising Jesus for who he truly is.

The light that shone from Jesus, displaying him in his fullglory, has faded. The disciples have heard the clear affirmation ofJesus as the Son of God, who must be listened to (Matthew 17:5). The desire to build tents andstay on the mountain forever (Matthew 17:4) has been replaced with adifferent longing. You can imagine that Peter, James and Johnwanted to tell everyone they could meet what had happened, all thatthey had seen and heard. Often in the Gospel accounts, those whohave encountered Jesus in his full power, are ordered to remainsilent - after healings and exorcisms, as well as this profoundexperience of God's glory that the three disciples havewitnessed.

There is an irony that Peter is told to remain silent and tohide his knowledge of who Jesus really is when later, given everyopportunity to show his allegiance to him, he denies any knowledgeor relationship with Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75).

The link between secrecy about demonstrations of divine powerand Jesus' future death is a common thread in the Gospels. Whatwould be the consequences of broadcasting the fact that Jesus isthe Son of God? And why is it important at this stage for there tobe secrecy? It is clear from the story of the temptations of Jesus(Matthew 4:1-11) that his mission is not aboutspectacle and show - he recognises the reality of diminishingreturns that comes of convincing people of his true identitythrough dramatic events, that will lead to the crowd wanting moreand never being truly satisfied. There is also wisdom in hiding histrue identity because the threat to his life and ministry isgrowing stronger, and those who want to protect their own statusand understanding of God's plan will be further threatened bystories of Jesus demonstrating his divine power. It is not throughpower, in the end, that Jesus wants to demonstrate the true natureof the kingdom of God, but through service and self-givinglove.

To Ponder

  • Why do you think it matters to Matthew to make the link betweenElijah and John the Baptist?
  • How do you imagine Jesus? Is it in the full glory of heaven, inthe temple turning the tables (Matthew 21:12-17), in the crowd healing a womanbent double (Matthew 9:20-22), on the cross (Matthew 27:32-54)? Who is Jesus to you?
  • If you were to tell a friend about Jesus, which story would youtell?

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