Today, we see the influence of Matthew's writing beyond the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70. It is also the influence of knowing the story of Jesus ends in resurrection.
The miracle of the transfiguration reminds us of the baptism in that God is once again well-pleased with Jesus who is named again as "my Son, the beloved". We see John the Baptist referenced again but this time he is named as Elijah who was to come again before the Messiah.
We imagine the transfiguration as mysterious.
What if it references something that is more about our daily walk?
Jesus curing the epileptic boy reminds the current church that Jesus does not walk among us in the flesh. We long for miraculous cures and yet they sometimes escape us. When Jesus speaks of the faith we need - is he saying just a tiny amount (referring to the size of the mustard seed) or is he referring to the infectious quality (referring to the weed-like nature of the seed)? I tend to look upon the latter. It was the infectious nature that allowed Christianity to spread. This may be what we need to remember for today's church.
We see how the disciples were distressed at the notion of the crucifixion and resurrection. This would have been helpful to remember during the stress of the early church two generations removed that it was difficult for those who walked with Jesus on earth as well.
Finally, we have this rather bizarre story about paying the Temple tax. Taxing in the days following the destruction of the Temple would have been very stressful. What if it went not to the Temple anymore but to Roman authorities? How should we pay for it? While it seems like Jesus offers a miraculous solution (one almost similar to saying go buy a lottery ticket), we don't actually see Peter go and prove this out. We know that Peter was a fisherman and it seems that Jesus was reminding them that they had the ability to produce the needed taxes so that this would not cause offense. They had bigger fish to fry!
Today, we have similar stresses. We have illnesses that toss us into the metaphorical fire and water that seem to have no cure. We wrestle with taxes (especially this time of year if you are in the United States) and we wonder about what we should support. Death still destresses us greatly. But how does the resurrection speak to these things?
Just as it came to Jesus, it must come for each of us. I don't just mean in the life eternal after we die. We must experience the resurrection in ways here and now. This aspect of our faith allows us to experience the impossible. It is not literal as with the explanation of Peter and the fish. Maybe the mountain that needs to be moved is the mountain that Jesus just descended from in the transfiguration. The mountain where our faith was revealed is not a problem but a witness to be applied to the situation at hand. If our faith was infectious, maybe we could move this mountainous witness to bear to the current need.
How does resurrection speak to your stress?
I invite you to pray on this question for a moment.
Prayer for the day:
God, there are many situations we endure.
We may, like Jesus, say to these things, "How much longer must I put up with you?"
We ask for goodness and life and blessing to come to those we love.
But we know that sometimes suffering comes instead.
As we weep with them and for them, help us to see resurrection abounding.
May our faith move this mountainous witness to stand firm in our midst.
Photo by Ninara via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.