The Transfiguration

Transfiguration of the Lord
OT: Exodus 24:12-18
Psalm: Psalm 99
NT: 2 Peter 1:16-21
Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9


Because we were traveling this weekend I did not have a chance to write my usual reflection on the readings for this week. I did, however, read a particularly timely passage from N.T. Wright’s book Simply Jesus that I will leave you to reflect on:

Suppose that, after all, the ancient Jewish story of a God making the world, calling a people, meeting with them on a mountain—suppose this story were true. And suppose this God had a purpose for his world and his people that had now reached the moment of fulfillment. Suppose, moreover, that this purpose had taken human form and that the person concerned was going about doing the things that spoke of God’s kingdom coming on earth as in heaven, of God’s space and human space coming together at last, of God’s time and human time meeting and merging for a short, intense period, and of God’s new creation and the present creation somehow knocking unexpected sparks off one another. The earth shall be filled, said the prophet, with the knowledge of the glory of YHWH as the waters cover the sea. It is within some such set of suppositions that we might make sense of the strangest moment of all, at the heart of the narrative, when the glory of God comes down not to the Temple in Jerusalem, not to the top of Mount Sinai, but onto Jesus himself, shining in splendor, talking with Moses and Elijah, drawing the Law and the Prophets together into the time of fulfillment. The transfiguration, as we call it, is the central moment. This is when what happens to space in the Temple and to time on the sabbath happens, within the life of Jesus, to the material world itself or rather, more specifically, to Jesus’s physical body itself.

What the story of Jesus on the mountain demonstrates, for those with eyes to see or ears to hear, is that, just as Jesus seems to be the place where God’s world and ours meet, where God’s time and ours meet, so he is also the place where, so to speak, God’s matter—God’s new creation—intersects with ours. As with everything else in the gospel narrative, the moment is extraordinary, but soon over. it forms a part of a new set of signposts, Jesus-shaped signposts, indicating what is to come: a whole new creation, starting with Jesus himself as the seed that is sown in the earth and then rises to become the beginning of that new world.

(Simply Jesus by N.T. Wright, 142-144)

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