I wanted to share with you a few words on the Transfiguration of Jesus since it is going to be a major lens through which we look at our entire season of Lent. I think that for most of us who are hearing this story, we've heard it many times before, and have heard many interpretations of it before as well. It is a rich story, full of meaning and symbolism. For instance, that Moses and Elijah appear connects Jesus with the Judaic heroes, and legitimizes Jesus place. It shows he is the culmination of the Law (Moses & 10 Commandments) and the Prophets (Elijah regarded as one of, if not the, greatest of the prophets). The mountain, the cloud, the light, should all conjure up images from the Exodus, where God chooses and leads his people to freedom.
The events I want us to focus on though, is what happens in verses 7-10. God's voice thunders, "This is my Son, the beloved; listen to Him!" Jesus tells his disciples to tell no one until he has risen from the dead. Then the disciples, actually follow the directions because they don't know what Jesus means by rising from the dead.
The latter part of this text is easy for us to gloss over, as the shining bright Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah is a rather fascinating event. It is meant to capture our imaginations, and help us make the connection that Jesus is a continuation of God's work in those who came before, and not a separation thereof. It is also easy for us skip over because we knew this already. We can recall God saying similar words over Jesus at his baptism. However, there is a major difference between God speaking at Jesus' baptism and God speaking at Jesus' transfiguration; in the transfiguration, the disciples hear the voice too.
Who Jesus is, God's beloved Son, is revealed undeniably to the disciples. They don't ponder on the way down the mountain how Jesus can be God's Son, they ponder what it means to rise from the dead. In this moment they are following the command, "Listen to him!", but they just don't know what to do with what he is saying...yet.
Often times, things are revealed to us, in ways that are just too much for us to handle or understand. Especially when it comes to what is revealed to us about God. Sometimes it just takes more thought and time to discern, other times it takes new events taking place (like the Crucifixion) for us to make sense of what we have heard.
This I think is a good perspective for us to use in pondering our Lenten practices, and why we do them. They are not simply a way of achievement or keeping score (4 of 4 Lenten Disciplines Achieved!), but rather they each reveal something to us about the nature of God, and being followers of the Way, followers of the Cross, followers of Jesus.