Reflections: The Transfiguration of Our Lord

Today’s Reading: Matthew 17:1-9

Daily Lectionary: Job 3:11-26; John 1:35-51

And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. (Matthew 17:8)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. For just a moment, Peter didn’t have to look at Jesus, who looked like everyone else, and perceive that He was God incarnate. He saw the transfigured Christ. He didn’t have to imagine what the victory over death would look like. He saw Moses and Elijah. He didn’t have to wonder if he had made a huge mistake in promising to follow the guy who just said that He was going to be killed, only to be raised on the Third Day. The voice from the sky boomed down; this was actually a good idea after all. 

Everybody wants that stuff. It’s to the point where it has a name: the “mountaintop experience.” The church has responded, either by trying to grant it by changing worship, or by trying to convince you that wanting to see what Peter saw is a sin and shows lack of faith. Words like “comfort” are only thought about, never felt. 

Neither view is right. We can acknowledge why we want the mountaintop experience without either bowing to the desire or running from it. We want to feel safe. We want to confront the doubts we all struggle against. We want something concrete so we can hope without wavering. Maybe we are given the Transfiguration so we can see what happens when we get what we want. The disciples fell on their faces and were terrified. 

God doesn’t grant comfort from on high. He does it by descending. Hope doesn’t come from a one-time experience, but by constant promise. See what brought comfort to the disciples who were laying in the fetal position: Lifting up their eyes, they saw Jesus only. They didn’t see a lesser God. They saw a God who would descend to be like them. To offer hope, not rooted in building a tent on a perfect mountain, but carved out of an empty tomb. In Jesus only, we have all the things they looked for. A God close by. The victory over death. Hope to confront doubt. Look to where Jesus has promised to be. Look to the Word. The Sacraments. Rise. And have no fear. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

O God, in the glorious transfiguration of Your beloved Son You confirmed the mysteries of the faith by the testimony of Moses and Elijah. In the voice that came from the bright cloud You wonderfully foreshadowed our adoption by grace. Mercifully make us co-heirs with the King in His glory and bring us to the fullness of our inheritance in heaven; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for the Transfiguration of Our Lord)

-Rev. Harrison Goodman is content executive for Higher Things.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch

Discover new insights from each line of the Psalms in Engaging the Psalms: A Guide for Reflection and Prayer. Read, repeat, and return to the Lord as you walk through all 150 Psalms. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.