Feb. 24, 2013 Second Sunday of Lent Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18 Philippians 3:17-4:1 or 3:20-4:1 Luke 9:28b-36
In today's Gospel, the wonder of the Transfiguration so catches our attention that it would be easy to miss the significance of the first line in the reading: "Jesus took Peter, John, and James up the mountain to pray." Just who was doing the praying is obvious. "Peter and his companions had become overcome by sleep." It was natural that Jesus would pray as he was ready to set out for Jerusalem. Meanwhile his followers slept.
Like those followers we often miss spiritual opportunities and events for a variety of reasons and sometimes we focus on the wrong things. By all human standards Peter, James and John were very ordinary. Peter was often filled with confusion. James and John revealed their lack of understanding of the kingdom when they asked for a place at Jesus' right and left hand.
None of the evangelists can adequately explain what happened on that mountain "the radiance of Jesus‚" garments, the appearance of Elijah and Moses, the cloud, and the voice. Luke is the only evangelist who mentions the topic about which Jesus, Elijah and Moses had a conversation. In calling our attention to the exodus, Luke points to Jesus' journey to Jerusalem and coming glory. At first sight, it appears that this was an event that occurred for the sake of Peter, James and John and surely it was extraordinarily important.
The event had greater significance for Jesus who was facing his death on the cross. On the mountaintop, he received approval of his decision. This is clearly heard in the voice from the cloud. In Jewish thought, the cloud was connected with the presence of God. In a cloud Moses met God, God came to the Tabernacle and a cloud filled the Temple when it was dedicated after it was built by Solomon. The Jews believed that when the Messiah came a cloud would descend.
And for us, the Transfiguration has a different sort of meaning. We are faith filled people well aware of the sort of kingdom to which Jesus referred. We know, too, the suffering that Jesus faced.
In the Scripture today, God tell us that when Jesus speaks, we need to listen.
When God spoke from the cloud he said, 'This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him'. God added that command, "Listen to him!" God ended Jesus followers' doubts by announcing that Jesus' words were true. What the Transfiguration was for them, the resurrection is for us. When Jesus speaks, we need to listen because God tells us that his words are true!