Thought for the month, August 2017

by Julia Kilby

The Transfiguration of Jesus, Luke 9:28-36

The story of Jesus' transfiguration is a difficult one. In the midst of all the miracles that he performed, Jesus takes Peter, James and John up onto a mountain to pray. Jesus becomes brightly illuminated and is then seen to appear with the great prophets Moses and Elijah. They discuss Jesus' departure, and are then engulfed in a cloud, during which the two prophets of the Old Testament leave Jesus. The disciples are described as initially being sleepy, but then as the prophets are leaving they try to make the moment last by offering to build shelters for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. They are then sworn to secrecy about this event.

Was it all a dream? Who actually recounts the story? Does it matter?

The main event creates an impact because it describes something that is beyond human possibility. It highlights Jesus, quite literally, as someone to be considered as more than human, and declared by God to be His Son. It makes the stories of his amazing miracles even more impactful. If we weren't impressed already by what Jesus could do, this story should do it.

What impresses me most, though, is that the story appears in the middle of Luke 9, sandwiched between the feeding of the five thousand and the healing of the mentally deranged boy. Jesus leaves his day job for a short time, experiences something amazing, then returns and continues his work in the same way as before, not telling anyone about the event. That suggests an immense humility. Can we follow him?