17 February 2018Luke 9:28-36
“They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” (v. 31)
Transfigured Christ, none comprehends your majesty
Psalm: Psalm 102
We end the week almost where we began with another account of the Transfiguration of Jesus. This time we are in the Gospel of Luke and we may immediately notice many similarities and some differences between the two narratives, some of which we look at now.
Luke makes the point that Jesus has gone up the mountain specifically “to pray” (v. 28) and that it is “while praying” that the Transfiguration takes place (verse 29). Luke himself does not use the word “transfiguration” but he tells us what it looks like – dazzling white clothes, as Mark’s Gospel recounts (Mark 9:3), but also a shining face, making a link, probably intentional, with Moses receiving the law (see 2 Corinthians 3:12 – 4:2).
Again glory surrounds the three men who, in Luke’s Gospel alone, are not just terrified, but almost overcome with sleep. Perhaps the effort of climbing a mountain for fishermen, accustomed to spending their days (and nights) at sea level, could account for their sleepiness; or is Luke also trying to capture something of the barrier between human understanding and divine activity (which is represented by Moses’ veil)? The idea we encountered there about the fading of the glory seems to connect with the way in which Luke expresses Peter’s response; here we read it is “just as they were leaving him” (v. 33) that Peter bursts out with his suggestion of three dwellings for Moses, Elijah and Jesus; maybe he doesn’t want to see the glory fade?
Most significant of all, in Luke’s account, is the use of the Greek word “exodus” (translated here “departure”) in verse 31. There seems a clear link in Luke’s mind between the imminent death of Jesus and the ancient exodus of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. This “exodus” is to take place in Jerusalem; to which, from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Luke has pointed his narrative. Soon its climax will be achieved there.
- How might this reading lead you to Repentance and Renewal?
- More than once this week we have read about encounters with God which left people with “shining faces”. Do you know people who seem to have a physical aura of God’s glory about them? What does it look/feel like? And how do you feel being with them?
- As you continue the journey through Lent to Jerusalem, how might it be, for you, a journey from slavery to freedom?