10 June 2021Luke 9:28-36
Then from the cloud came a voice that said, 'This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ (v. 35)
The passage begins by noting that after eight days, Jesus ascends a mountain to pray with Peter, James and John. It is only in Luke’s Gospel that Jesus prays on the mountain of transfiguration (v. 28), emphasising again the importance of prayer for Jesus’ ministry. While there are various suggestions for which mountain this might be, Luke does not tell us – although the scene echoes Moses’ encounter with God on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:12-18). As Jesus prayed, his face was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white (v. 29). There may be an echo here of Daniel 7:9-13, where the ‘Ancient One’ is described in similar terms.
Peter, James and John then see Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus (v. 30). These figures were hugely significant within Judaism, and some take them here as symbols of the Law and the Prophets. Others note that both Moses and Elijah were rumoured to have been taken up to heaven, and so there was an expectation of their appearance at the end of the age. Either way, it’s clear that their presence with Jesus is a confirmation of his ministry, and perhaps also highlights that Jesus fulfils the Old Testament scriptures. Luke notes that they talked with Jesus about his ‘departure’, so Jesus’ suffering is noted even in the context of his glory (v. 31). Although weighed down with sleep, Peter, James and John then see Jesus’ glory, and the glory of Moses and Elijah with him (v. 32).
After the fumbling attempts of Peter to ‘build three dwellings’ for those who had appeared (v. 33), a cloud comes and overshadows the scene. Here as elsewhere, the cloud is a symbol of God’s own presence (Daniel 7:13). While the disciples tremble with fear, a voice comes from the cloud identifying Jesus as ‘my son, my Chosen’, and exhorts the disciples to ‘listen to him’ (v. 35). There is clearly an echo here of the divine voice at Jesus’ baptism (Luke 3:22), but here the exhortation is to hear and obey Jesus.
- Which places or settings do you find best help you to pray?
- In what ways have you experienced in your life something of the ‘glory’ of Jesus?
- How do you ensure that you listen to the voice of Jesus each day?