Saturday, August 6, 2011

Matthew 17:1-9 Transfiguration of Jesus

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.
As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
“Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

This passage is celebrating the transfiguration of Jesus. Transfiguration according to the New Interpreter's Bible means "to undergo metamorphosis". So here Jesus is changing to reveal his divinity and his connection to the heavenly realm. Jesus is also being linked with the Mosaic tradition and his connection to the prophetic tradition becomes evident since he is seen beside Moses and Elijah. The location of being on top of a mountain should also remind the reader that Moses' connection with God takes place on a mountain. The naming of Peter, James, and John is significant because not all the disciples are present. It is likely these three disciples are included because of their position in the early church. Peter's announcement that they should build tents demonstrates he does not fully understand what he is seeing. The transfiguration was meant to reveal Jesus' divinity so creating something of the earth to contain it is impossible. The voice that speaks from a cloud should also remind readers that this is God, the same God who spoke to Moses in the form of a cloud. What is interesting about the statement "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him" there is such an intimacy between God and Jesus. Jesus is God's beloved son, not just any offspring. Jesus is the favorite. This makes the insanity of the cross all the more difficult to comprehend.

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