By Scott Dunham
Matthew 17: 1-9
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
This is a time of year when clouds are often present in our lives. As March turns to April, we are thinking less of snow and more of rain showers, but both are dominated by clouds. Certainly this year has been true to our expectations. But the clouds outside not only indicate the coming spring; they may heighten our own sense of inner greys.
The story of Jesus’ transfiguration was God’s affirmation of Jesus by changing of Jesus’ appearance to radiant light. Before the disciples’ eyes, the glory of the God was revealed to reside in Jesus too. Jesus’ command that they not speak of this event until his resurrection confused the disciples. They neither understood what Jesus meant when he spoke of being raised from the dead, nor why his glorious relationship with God should be held back when people still doubted Jesus’ authority. We must give Jesus credit for his patience with them. We must also give his disciples credit for walking faithfully with Jesus in those uncertain days.
We are on the road to Jerusalem right now, in anticipation of Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection. In our day-to-day lives, this lenten season and their relief in Easter celebrations are taking unexpected turns as we endure social distancing. It is easier to understood how Jesus’ glorious divine radiance seems to be “behind a cloud” when we are separated. This season seems less immediate and more grey and wispy without the fellowship that we normally enjoy.
But there are rays of light breaking through: we have more time to enter into prayer and mediation on Scripture; we have more time to remember our neighbours and our brothers- and sisters-in-Christ who suffer from these distancing precautions; we have the chance to be the light of Jesus in unexpected ways. Let’s not hide our light, but find new ways to let it shine, so that God’s glory is felt.
Rev. Scott Dunham grew up at Grace and currently serves as the Pastor of Visitation to those in nursing homes or hospital.