Exodus 24: 12-18; Matt 17: 1-9
“This is my Son, listen to him”
“It looked like a fire burning on top of the mountain”
Earlier this week when I was beginning to reflect on what I might talk to you about today, I read many different reflections and studies on these words. Including some I had written myself a few months ago. This is termed a midrash... which is a retelling of the story and I share it with you now:
It is from the perspective of the author, Matthew, not an eyewitness, but one who heard the story from those who were:
Now I have to tell you what happened next; it’s a few days, nearly a week since Peter stood in the middle of the road and made his proclamation. I have to say it’s what we were all thinking, but we didn’t know how to say it out loud; or we weren’t brave enough, or stupid enough.
Heck I don’t know!!
Only Peter would do it really; or maybe James and John—they were pretty good at shouting their mouths off. So, Jesus goes off, like he does; off to pray; to be alone; to do whatever it is he does; anyway, this time he takes the three guys with him: Peter, James and John. The rest of us actually didn’t mind, ‘cos, well, it just seemed right that they should go. They were away for a couple of hours or so, and when they came back, they were different.
I can’t really put my finger on it, you know.
They were just different. And every time any of us asked them what had happened they just clammed up. Wouldn’t talk about it. You may guess we had our theories— Jesus had told them his big plan; they’d met with some secret agent; they’d had visions or been whisked off somewhere— it all began to get a little crazy really!
Though actually, when the truth came out (afterwards you know) well, our wild theories didn’t seem so bad any more.
After everything else that happened; when it was all over, or just beginning I suppose, then they told us. And to be honest, if all three of them hadn’t agreed, we’d have found it hard to believe.
This is it:
Jesus took them up to the top of the mountain; they were just settling down, getting comfortable cause they presumed they’d have a nice quiet time; praying, talking just enjoying Jesus’ company, when suddenly he was shining! Totally transformed—transfigured they called it. And just as they were getting their breath back after that, two figures appeared right beside Jesus, and as they talked the guys suddenly realised it was Moses and Elijah!
I kid you not my friends! Moses and Elijah—on my mother’s life! Talking to Jesus, as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
Peter, yeah, of course it had to be Peter didn’t it! Peter couldn’t just sit and watch, he had to do something, so he went over to Jesus and offered to make tents for them! My life! Tents... only a fisherman would offer to make a tent halfway up a mountain!
Anyway, Peter is doing his Peter thing, talking too much, trying to make things more normal (though how anything that included Moses and Elijah is normal beats me!) Anyway, he’s doing this when all of a sudden it gets more crazy! A bright, bright cloud was suddenly covering them—came from nowhere—and then they heard a voice. Oh wow, I wish he’d invited me, Matthew to be there, wish it had been me... the voice said:
“This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased. Listen to him”
Remember, this was only a week after Peter had named Jesus as the Messiah, and now this voice calling him his son, and it certainly wasn’t old Joseph’s voice back from the dead! No way!
This was the real deal—the Lord God Almighty himself.
They heard the voice of God.
Blessed they were; blessed indeed.
No wonder, really, that when they came down the mountain they were different; who wouldn’t be? Jesus told them not to say anything until the time was right; just like he’d told us not to tell anyone he was the Messiah.
Peter, James and John—lucky guys.
Peter, James and John – lucky guys.
Imagine for a moment that you encountered God... and heard God’s voice, God’s personal message for you...
I ask you to do this, because I truly believe we too have our mountaintop moments.
Like Moses going up the mountain and spending days, weeks in the presence of holiness
Or like Peter and James and John, spending just minutes there...
It all comes to the same thing though. For, when God touches you – everything changes.
And we all have our moments, our little epiphanies; moments of absolute clarity; when suddenly the thing we’ve been struggling with is clear and it is obvious what we must do.
We all have decisions to make – simple, mundane everyday choices.
And bigger, life changing ones
Each deserves time
Each deserves that God-moment when we offer it up, pray about it, tussle and pray some more until we know. Some decisions take years; others take just minutes.
We can be reassured about both our quick decisions and long ones because that’s life; it is what being human is all about.
And sometimes, like Peter and James and John, coming back down the mountain, we are changed and we cannot talk about it immediately.
We have to wait
We have to reflect
We have to let everything else fall into place
God’s timing may not be our timing, but God’s timing is perfect
When the time is right, we are able to see clearly
The epiphany comes: God’s plan, God’s desire, God’s hope for us... FOR EACH ONE OF US!
God’s Glory is revealed, and in that glow we can understand, we can see, we can know and truly listen as we hear God’s voice: “this is my child, my chosen one, in whom I am well pleased”