|Transfiguration by Carl Heinrich Bloch, 1880's|
via Wikimedia Commons
We've dealt with many different themes of light during Epiphany and they seem to culminate in this story of Jesus on the mountaintop before we begin the season of Lent on the following Wednesday.
Peter, James and John seem to be confused by the scene and more than a little fearful. I'm a little reminded of Paul's encounter on the road to Damascus where he is blinded by the light of Christ.
Within the Gospels, we are more likely to find the blind able to see rather than the reverse. We can interpret the modern encounter with Jesus Christ metaphorically, allowing us to "see" as we discover the truth. Christians attest to this insight quite often in John Newton's "Amazing Grace" as we sing, "I was blind but now I see."
The transfiguration is a little different. It leaves the disciples mystified. They wonder at the depth of the one whom they have decided to follow.
Peter wants to stay and sing some praise music but Jesus directs him down the mountain. This is an indictment on human nature in general. As a pastor, there are plenty of people I've encountered who aren't quite ready to serve in some capacity because they feel as if they are not:
Could it be that sometimes our encounters with the divine leave us feeling inadequate?
Sure, we have forgiveness but we know that we needed this mercy in the first place because we've messed up. Deep down, we may sometimes doubt if we are capable of more. In spite of grace, are we stuck?
In the midst of this self-crisis, Jesus directs us back down the mountain. Because ultimately, the work to be done is greater than our luxury of apprehension.