Sunday, January 01, 2006

Listening to the Chosen One

Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah"—not knowing what he said. As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!" And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen. (Luke 9:28-36)

I heard a great sermon on the Transfiguration tonight, which really opened up the passage to me. I constantly need reminding that the Gospels are all about Jesus and who he was, and everything else they provide us with (how to get saved, ethics etc) come out of that. The transfiguration is no exception to this, and if read carefully is all about the unique majesty of Jesus too. In all the synoptics the story is placed directly following Jesus teaching about his own coming death, and the need for his disciples to also take up the cross and follow him. This is difficult teaching for disciples then and now to hear and I do not think it is accidental that the Transfiguration is recounted next, as the story’s introduction (‘Now about eight days after these sayings…’) suggests.

Until today I only understood the ridiculed comment of Peter ‘Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah’ to be stupid because these Elijah and Moses were dead. But of course I was forgetting that this is all about Jesus.

If you try and think about what the disciples were thinking it seems likely that they were marvelling that Jesus should be ranked with the greatest figures of the OT, and wondering at the honour given to him. Peter’s offer to set up tents, carries with it the implication that these were three prophets of God worthy of equal honour. It seems obvious to me now that this is the import of Peter’s comment and that it isn’t just ‘filler’ because we are told that God interrupts Peter at just this point to pronounce Jesus’ uniqueness. We should not let anyone, or anything (even the prophets of God) compare to Jesus, and it is for just this reason that we should ‘listen to him’.

The cloud clears and ‘Jesus is found alone’. There is no one else to rival Jesus, or even to complement him. Jesus is the one and this means we should listen to him. Even when he tells us things that seem foolish (like the Messiah dying), or hard (like following his path).

My prayer/resolution for 2006 is that I would listen to Jesus.

PS Reading the whole bible, even the hard bits to swallow, is one way to hear what Jesus has to say to us. Because of this I have signed up to Ant’s challenge.


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