Many churches will be observing Transfiguration Sunday this Sunday as Peter, James and John had a vision of being led up into a mountain top experience in the presence of Jesus.

Matthew 17 describes the event of the transfiguration in verses 1-9:

“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.’” 

In the Second letter of Peter, Chapter 1, verses 16-18, the writer speaks of being eye witnesses of Christ’s majestic glory:

“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. For he received honor 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.’ We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.”

As editor of Presbyterian Outlook Magazine, the Rev. Jill Duffield writes:

“Where is Jesus leading us, apart and away from our normal places and tasks, in order that we might see his transfigured, divine identity and listen to him? Maybe it is not a physical climb up an actual mountain, but perhaps a metaphorical clearing of mental space where we could be intentionally open to the Word of the Lord to us. What liminal, uncomfortable, unfamiliar territory are we being called to traverse in order to hear the voice of God, recognize the presence of the Son of Man and reorient our lives to better reflect God’s instructions from the law and the prophets and the Messiah?

“No matter the mountain, its terrain, scope, height or hazards, Jesus is our guide. Jesus, the beloved Son of God, with whom God is well pleased, will instruct us and never abandon us. We have been given not only the gift of the law and the prophets for our instruction, but the Word made flesh, the Messiah, the One who not only tells us what God wants for creation, but shows us and makes it possible. 

“Do not be afraid. Follow Jesus up whatever mountain he leads you to climb.”

David Tritenbach is a retired Presbyterian minister. 

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