• thebetterpart

A Moment for Them

Matthew 17.1-9

2nd Sunday of Lent, Year A

  • 9-12 year olds


The Gospel this Sunday begins,

Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves.

By themselves. We know right away that this is a private moment for the four of them. It is a moment particularly for them, otherwise everyone else would be there, too.


Look


How is it for them? What is God doing?

And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.

They see Jesus as they have never seen him before, so full of the light and life of God that it shines out of him. Their eyes are dazzled by the brightness. We could say that they see his true self in all its glory.


But does this mean that Jesus is not really human like us? Is he just God in disguise? That would make him more of a superhero, not human. With superpowers, of course he can conquer death on the cross.


It would feel good to have a superhero who can do anything. But think with me: isn't it even better to have a human--one of us--conquer death? Without being undefeatable, but in fact, weak to the point of death; without the ability to fly, but in fact, held in place by nails on the cross--without superpowers at all, but in fact completely devoted to the will of God, Jesus conquers death. I think that's even more impressive. I think that's something to follow.


So maybe what Peter and James and John see is Jesus when he conquers death. Maybe they see him full of the Risen life--so full of the life of God that he can never die again. The life that shines out of him, spreading to all people.


Remember, this is a moment for them. Peter and James and John will need to recall this moment in the days and weeks to come, when Jesus is taken from them by the soldiers and dies on the cross. God is giving them a vision of what can be.


Listen


What else is God doing?

Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.

Moses--the one who was given the law, the Torah. Elijah--the prophet who was to come before the Messiah. The Law and the Prophets. We've heard of this before! Jesus, the fulfilment and fullness of both. Peter and James and John can be sure of Jesus' words, then. They can trust him. They can,

listen to him!

God gives them this, too. A clear command! Listen. The word "listen" comes from the same word as "obey." This moment tells Peter and James and John that Jesus can be absolutely trusted, listened to, obeyed.


Have no fear


Anything else God does?


When the disciples hear God's voice, they are overcome with fear. This is too much. The glory of God--the Jewish people call this the "Shekinah"--is overwhelming. They crumple in fear.

But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.”

In their fear, Jesus comes. They look up and see not Moses and Elijah. Only Jesus, the fullness of both. They listen and hear, not the voice of the Shekinah, but only Jesus, the Word of God. They do not need to be afraid. This is something else they will need in the days to come, when he is taken from them and it seems like their whole world is crumbling. They will need to get up, and be not afraid.


Preparation

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.”

On the way down mountain, Jesus makes it clear again that, for now, this moment is a private moment just for them. We can imagine Peter and James and John getting together on their own, discussing what this all means. ("That word 'until,'--does Jesus really think he will rise from the dead?? Does that mean he thinks he's about to die???") We can think of the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain as a moment that prepares them for the trouble ahead.


And for us?

In Lent we prepare, too. We don't know what is going to happen tomorrow or next week, or next year, but we prepare. We listen to Jesus when we listen to the Word of God. It gives us courage so that we are not afraid. Peter and James and John had each other--a safe, small group to discuss what they had heard and seen. I wonder, as you grow, if you will be able to find safe, small groups of people with whom you can discuss the Word of God? It is good to think about the Word of God. It is even better when we can think about it together.

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