19 February 2023
This Sunday is known as Transfiguration Sunday. We’ll hear more of this in our reading, but it is good to note that our reading actually begins prior to the journey to the top of the mountain for Jesus and his selected three.
Our reading for today begins with the closing verses from chapter 16 where Jesus speaks of the cost that being one of his disciples will bring. “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” 16:25
This point in the story, just prior to the Transfiguration, prepares the disciples (and us) for what is to come next.
The Feast of the Transfiguration provides a transitional point in our liturgical calendar. It marks the point between Epiphany and Lent. We are coming from seasons of Epiphany – the revelation of Christ to the gentiles (that’s us) – and after today we move into the season of Lent – the 40 days, not counting Sundays, leading up to Easter. It is the point between a season of revelation and a-ah moments and a season of reflection and repentance.
There are a number of significant steps that follow for the disciples from here. It is a landmark in the disciples’ discovery of who Jesus is, it’s a transition point in their journey of faith and there is a marked changed in the pace of the journey on which Jesus and the disciples are engaged. From here Jerusalem is before them, as is the cross and ultimately the resurrection.
And in the midst of this transition are reminders of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Just as occurred at the baptism of Jesus we again hear from God speaking about the Beloved Son.
Mountain top experiences can be very meaningful. There are many in the Bible, but there are also many in our lives. We often use the term ‘mountain top experience’ when something significant has happened, or we have had a change in perspective.
What is usually associated with mountain top experiences is the diminishing of awe that comes from descending the mountain. In my youth events such as an NCYC were often considered a mountain top experience, something different, not often experienced but the awe that was experienced there fades as we got back to ground, back to the everyday living.
We speak of the transfiguration of Jesus at this event, but who really was transfigured? For the disciples who shared that moment with Jesus – Peter, James and John – there would be no turning back. What they had seen and learnt could not be undone. Their journey of faith was emboldened and renewed. We can also be emboldened and renewed as we again hear of this moment and turn to face the journey to cross.