Matthew 17:1-9 (NRSV)
17Six 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. 3Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4Then 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." 5While 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!" 6When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Get up and do not be afraid." 8And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. 9As 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."
When Peter, James, and John heard God’s voice from a “bright cloud [that] overshadowed them,” they were “overcome by fear.” This seems like a reasonable response. This experience would scare me!
But Christ did not leave the disciples in fear. He comforted them. Then he ordered them not to tell anyone what they had seen until after his resurrection. Christ led them from their “mountaintop experience” back to daily life.
God’s words about being “well pleased” with Christ, plus God’s call for the disciples to “listen to him,” must have rung in their ears. God was pleased with Christ’s life. The images of Christ as a servant spoke louder than any words. God called the disciples to live as servants in the footsteps of Jesus, teaching, healing, feeding, and standing with people society shuns.
Do we sometimes try to remain in a mountaintop experience rather than return to “plain” service?
God of both the mountaintop and plain, show us how to balance our mountaintop experience with our plain service. In our lives after the resurrection, remind us to freely share the transfiguration’s image of your beloved Son, light to the world. Amen.