Devotional — ‘Transformed’

Published 10:07 am Friday, March 4, 2022

“Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white.” NRS Luke 9:28

The transfiguration of the Lord is one of those passages that seems to leave us with many more questions than it does answers. Why does Jesus go to the mountaintop? Why does Jesus bring along three disciples, and why these three?  What is this all about? Why does this event mark the last Sunday before the start of Lent?

For Luke, and I believe in some large way for Mark and Matthew, this event is here to explain Jesus’ entire earthly ministry. Jesus goes to the mountain top with three witnesses so that what happens there will be legally witnessed. In Jewish law, two or three agreeing witnesses were required to establish facts. It is important because the ones Jesus, on his way to Jerusalem to die, will need them to testify to the mission. What Mission? To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor; that the Messiah has come.

On the mountain, the disciples see Jesus with God’s prophets, who have been persecuted for their following of God’s will and yet persevered to free God’s people. While there, they hear God’s declaration that Jesus is doing the will of God and should be obeyed. It is both a call to remember God’s acknowledgment of who Jesus is, and a call to continue the earthly ministry that Jesus has begun. 

It is on the Church calendar as a transitional Sunday to help us move from celebrating Emmanuel, to our call to self-examination. After all, we are Disciples of Christ who are called to spread the Gospel just as were Peter, John and James. In a world of violence, hatred and war, it is important for us to hear that Jesus came so that we could see God more clearly. In seeing God more clearly, we must be able to proclaim God’s love in our words and actions to those who do not see a Kingdom of love, joy, peace and hope. We, who have been brought to that mountaintop with our Lord, must remind ourselves, our families, friends, neighbors and indeed the entire world that God is still with us.

Keith Leach is Pastor of College Church and College Chaplain at Hampden-Sydney College. He can be reached at kleach@hsc.edu.