Psalm 2 (or 99)
2nd Peter 1:16-21
St. Matthew 17:1-9
Prayer of the Day:
O God, in the transfiguration of your Son you confirmed the mysteries of the faith by the witness of Moses and Elijah, and in the voice from the bright cloud you foreshadowed our adoption as your children. Make us heirs with Christ of your glory, and bring us to enjoy its fullness, through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
17.1 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3 Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”6 When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” 8 And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
St. Matthew 17:1-9, New Revised Standard Version Bible (C) 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
Listen to Him
In this week’s Gospel lesson, we get a glimpse of Jesus, accompanied by his inner circle. Jesus takes Peter and James and John and leads them up to the top of a high mountain. There, they receive what is perhaps their clearest glimpse of who Jesus truly is. Before their very eyes he is transformed. His clothes become dazzling white: whiter than any known bleach could ever make them. And as these three disciples look on in amazement, they see that Jesus is standing and talking with Elijah and Moses (two of the greatest figures in the Hebrew Bible).
Once again Peter puts his foot in his mouth. Grasped by fear, and not knowing what he is saying, Peter proposes to Jesus that they erect three dwellings (some translations say “tents”) there on the mountain, to memorialize what has just taken place. It seems that he is so awed by this event that he wants to spend some time there – to bask in its glow for a while.
Once again Peter is chastised. This time it is not by Jesus, it is by God’s very voice. As soon as Peter speaks, a voice thunders from the clouds (an echo of St. Matthew 3:17, at Jesus’ baptism): “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!” Here God desperately tries to get Peter’s attention, to move him away from his preconceived notions of what it will meant to follow Jesus, and to help him see Jesus’ mission for what it is. And how is Peter instructed to do that? He is commanded to “listen.”
Dealing with Peter is like dealing with a young child who is wild beyond control. In those times, one can hardly get the little one’s attention. Speak quietly. Speak sternly. Yell. Nothing seems to work. Finally, the only effective way to communicate is to lovingly hold the child’s face, one hand on each cheek, look eye-to-eye, and speak softly and calmly. Then, finally, with all other distractions kept at bay, a connection can possibly be made.
We love Peter for his impetuous nature. He is so often the one, when all others are frozen by fear or bewilderment, who is able to speak out or do something. But his great strength can also be his great weakness. His tendency to act without much thought has now put him at odds with what God is doing in Jesus. And so the voice of God invites him into the discipline that will make all the difference for Peter: “Listen to Jesus.” Listen to his words. Listen to his life. Listen to his example. Listen to his ministry. Listen to his care for the people of this world. Listen to his willingness to give even his own life, so that others might know God’s grace.
In these forty days that lead up to Easter, may we listen to the words, the life, the example and the ministry of Jesus. And may our listening open up our eyes (as it eventually does for Peter) to what it means to live as God’s faithful people today.
David J. Risendal, Pastor
Exploring This Week’s Gospel:
- How is Peter’s impulsive nature a strength in difficult times?
- How does Peter’s tendency to act without thinking get him in trouble?
- Why does God command Peter to Listen to Jesus? How will that help?
Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:
- When am I tempted to follow my own instincts, instead of working hard to discern God’s will?
- Who has been helpful in calling me back to God’s word, and helping me redirect my efforts?
- How can I, during this season of Lent, spend additional time with God, seeking to better understand God’s will for me?