The Gospel of Luke | Transfixed | Luke 9.28-36 |

by | May 24, 2021

“About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. 31 They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.) 34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”u 36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.” Luke 9.28-36

It had never happened before. Jesus, meeting on the mountain with two legendary leaders of Israel – Elijah and Moses. We find slight differences in the accounting of the Transfiguration in the Gospel accounts in Mark 9 and Matthew 17. The account in Luke suggests from one source suggests, “Luke is alone in specifying that Jesus took the three with him ‘to pray’; prayer is one of the distinctive focusses of Luke’s narrative (notice the Lukan mention of prayer earlier in the chapter in Luke 9.18 and the later mention of Jesus’ praying as the context for teaching the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11.1).“ [].

But in this account, Jesus took Peter, James and John up to pray on the mountain. And in in the middle of his prayer, his face changed in it’s appearance, his clothes became “bright as a flash of lightning” and two men appeared “in glorious splendor” and they spoke to Jesus. Now, that would be something to remember! The disciples stood before the group of three, “transfixed”, amazed, in awe. So much so that Peter speaks up saying nonsense about setting up a camp. Even the Gospel writer said, “He did not know what he was saying.”( I could imagine fumbling over my words if I was watching this holy encounter between Jesus, Moses and Elijah.)

And if that wasn’t all, God speaks! Rarely do we hear the voice of God. Jesus heard it at his baptism and Moses heard it at the burning bush. Elijah heard God on the side of the cliff when he was running from Jezebel who was threatening his life. All three of these holy men had heard the voice of God before. Now, the three chosen disciples heard it. Can you even imagine?

We don’t have a clue as to what Jesus was discussing with Elijah and Moses. We know what God said, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen, listen to him!” Perhaps actions speak louder than words. Maybe it mattered more what the disciples saw then what they heard, although hearing from God was significant.

When all this was said the passage tells us, “The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.” I’m mean, what were they going to say? “Peter offered to set up tents for the greatest Prophets of Israel?” Or, “We heard the voice of God speak,”? Who would believe them? Somehow, the three communicated this later to the gospel writers. Interestingly enough, John, who was there, never wrote about it.

What’s the point of this passage? It’s varied — God shows up, God affirms Jesus as do the other prophets, the disciples are encouraged at what they see, we can take in this whole experience and also be strengthened in our faith from their witness. The transfiguration is about the endorsement of Jesus as Messiah. It’s about bridging the old and the new covenant, and it’s about us (and the original disciples) being “transfixed” but what we see and hear.

Let us be full of faith. Confident in his appearance and assured of a God who loves us and has a plan for all of humanity By his grace and for his glory.

“O Lord God, thank you for loving us. Thank you for the passion in your actions and the witness of your Spirit. Thank you for the account of your Word which will endure forever. I love you and praise your glorious name. I too want to see Jesus face to face and hear your voice speak. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill me with power and love. Call me to be your disciple. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen