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The veil is drawn aside

Transfiguration_Fra_AngelicoThe veil is drawn aside – Matthew 17:1-9


G’day everyone and welcome to Church today as we focus on one of the best known stories about Jesus, that being, the Transfiguration. In the immediately preceding verse to today’s reading, Jesus assured his disciples, whom he had just told of his imminent death and the costliness of following him, that a least some of them were about to see his glory. He said, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Clearly, with Matthew’s mention of ‘six days later,’ Jesus was referring to his transfiguration. 

The account, which draws many parallels with Theophanies in the Old Testament, is awesome. Peter, James and John accompany Jesus up a high mountain where he is transfigured before them. Elijah and Moses, who represent the Law and the Prophets, also appear in glory to speak with Jesus and the divine voice, which is heard from the cloud, affirms Jesus identity as God’s beloved Son who is to be heeded. 

When this mind-blowing experience is over, the disciples look around and find only Jesus. In the midst of their bewilderment, Jesus is with his disciples. Followers of Jesus, both then and now, are not expected to go it alone in this difficult yet joyous life of Christian discipleship. Just as Jesus did not abandon his disciples, to return to glory, but led the way to Jerusalem and the cross, so too is Jesus with us today by his Spirit, as we also follow in his steps.

 As we take up our cross daily and follow him, we are reminded that there is no crown without a cross and although we too have mountain top experiences from time to time, mountain tops make valleys in between. So whether we are feeling up or down let us remember that we are called to live out our faith despite the difficulties that life can bring, knowing that Jesus has promised to be with us always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).              

Matthew 17:1-9

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Transfiguration

17 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

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.”

Exodus 24:12-18

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” 13 So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. 14 To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.”

15 Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. 17 Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. 18 Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

2 Peter 1:16-21

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Eyewitnesses of Christ’s Glory

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

19 So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.