The last Sunday of Epiphany is Transfiguration Sunday. Our eyes have adjusted to the light that guided shepherds and sages from afar to the amazing discovery of God born among us. Now they drink in the full brilliance of God’s manifestation in the illuminated Christ. Lindsey and Adam explore Matthew 17:1-9. “Jesus Unmasked” seeks to remove the masks of exclusive theology and violent cultural lenses that obscure the truth of Jesus’s unconditional love. Scripture passages are read from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. “Jesus Unmasked” is a Raven Foundation production.
Epiphany 7A: Transfiguration (Shiny Jesus Leads the Way)
The last Sunday of Epiphany is Transfiguration Sunday. Our eyes have adjusted to the light that guided shepherds and sages from afar to the amazing discovery of God born among us. Now they drink in the full brilliance of God’s manifestation in the illuminated Christ. Lindsey and Adam explore Matthew 17:1-9.
Jesus takes Peter and James up the mountain, where he is suddenly transfigured before their eyes, standing with Moses and Elijah and dazzling like the sun. Awed, Peter asks to build a dwelling place for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, but God interrupts him with a cloud of light and a booming voice. The words spoken at Jesus’s baptism are repeated: “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him!” Him, not them. When the cloud recedes, Jesus is the last man standing; Moses and Elijah are gone.
Jesus stands with the law and the prophets that Moses and Elijah represent. But they are absorbed into Jesus, who fulfills rather than abolishes. The best of the law and the prophets, all that is good and true, shines in Jesus. What fades away is the human misunderstanding that has led to violence and the notion that God can only be on our side at the expense of others.
The stories of both Moses and Elijah show leaders who gradually grew in their relationship with God. Their understanding of divine liberation was mingled with their conviction that God destroys enemies; yet they both came to a revelation of God’s glory apart from violence. Adam and Lindsey briefly explore their stories.
Ultimately, the transfiguration is the story of the transformation of our understanding of God. And that story continues. Peter and James cannot fully grasp what has happened. Jesus warns them to speak to no one until “after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” Maybe this is because a partial understanding of God can lead to self-righteousness and destruction.
To fully understand who God is and who we are meant to be, we must come down from the mountain and follow Jesus into the pain and tears of humanity. We can only dare to travel into the shadows of sin and suffering with the transfigured Christ, a glimpse of God’s light eclipsing all violence, as our guide. We will take that journey during the Lenten season, and emerge in the radiance of Love’s triumph over death.