Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus.
Recently we had snow here in Central Texas. It snowed all day and piled up to about six inches in my back yard.
Snow in Bryan-College Station is a real phenomenon, truly a rare event that happens maybe every four to five years, and when it snows all I can do is sit and watch it. It is a spectacle that I can’t take my eyes off of it. It is a peaceful sign of God’s presence.
Of course, it does not begin to compare to the mountain top experience that Peter, James, and John experienced when they saw Jesus transfigured in the brightness of the glory of God with Moses and Elijah talking with him.
The importance of Jesus’ transfiguration links Jesus’ whole ministry from baptism to his suffering and death and helps us understand our discipleship in light of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
It depicts the divine in Jesus the Christ.
As strange as the brightness that enveloped Jesus there on the mountain seems it bears the one message from God that these men, as well as you and I, need to hear repeatedly,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
It was an experience of the transfigured Son of God, more than the human Jesus that these first disciples had come up the mountain with that day or had come to know and follow. They were astounded, and hard-pressed to explain exactly what happened. Peter had a loss for words when he tried to respond to it.
As Jesus was “metamorphized” before their very eyes Peter, James, and John had a spiritual experience that was certainly more awesome and life-changing than me watching the wonder of snow in Bryan, Texas.
The natural, physical phenomenon of the brilliant light filling Jesus being and his clothing is secondary to the supernatural proclamation of the voice of God from the cloud which said “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.”
This Jesus was not just a rebel rabbi, clever sage, or wisdom teacher. His transfiguration reveals him as the Celestial Lord of all human history, and God’s beloved and specifically appointed Son.
The conclusion is inescapable. The disciples, and we, must “Listen to him.”
Listening to Jesus is a key element in our lives as Christians. It is only as we listen to Jesus throughout our lives that we can be transformed, and changed so that the light of Christ can shine in and through us. It is only by listening to Jesus that we can see and truly appreciate the light of Christ that shines in and through the lives of others. Jesus has Peter, James and John come down off of that mountain that day to shine in the midst of their brothers and sisters, and in the midst of their enemies.
Just as the bible says the very breath of God keeps us breathing, the visible manifestation of God’s divine presence is what keeps each of us radiant from within. It is the light of God within us that can sparkle through as if through a stained-glass window. But it cannot shine through us or we cannot see it shine through those around us unless we “Listen to him.”
Why can’t we always see this?
One way to explain it might be that when the full moon is out at night it is hard to see clearly the light coming from the stars. So also, when we are so full of ourselves, and calling attention to what we perceive as our own light it becomes harder to see others glow. The irony is that the more humble we are the more majestic we will shine.
When we give other people permission to shine then our own glow becomes authentic instead of smothered. The real work of those disciples did not happen on that mountain. It happened when they came down in the valley and began their ministry with Jesus of healing and sharing the good news of Jesus.
By listening to Jesus we see very clearly that our ministry is among the people who are in need of God.
- When and how do you truly hear Jesus and listen to him?
- How do you listen, or what helps you hear Jesus speak to you?
- How can listening to Jesus help you in your life’s work as a child of God?
- Do you have a time set aside to listen to Jesus each day, and do you sometimes hear the voice of Jesus in someone from whom you did not expect to hear it?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.