Reading: Luke 9:28-36
“I can tell something is going on here, but I’m not sure what.”
I was trail biking with my family on the side of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, TN. At one point the trail joined a parking lot before disappearing at the other end back into the woods. Before leaving the parking lot, we paused for a break. While resting, I noticed a sign at the edge of the lot reading, “Area closed at dusk.” At first glance, there was no apparent area to close. When I got within reach of the sign, I discovered the slightest trail down from the parking lot. Following it, I emerged upon an odd scene: there was a semi-circular rock cliff, with a drop-off of several stories. Below lay what appeared to have once been a clearing, now covered in overgrowth. Some of the rock walls were covered in ivy. Further exploration revealed massive stone eagles on the cliff edge, staring protectively down below. It was positively Narnian. What on earth was this place?
The story of the transfiguration of Jesus in Luke 9 has a lot of that air about it. Scholars are as uncertain about its meaning as they are about even its location in the story. Some believe it refers to a cryptic vision within Jesus ministry; others hold that it was originally placed as a post-resurrection encounter with the disciples to reveal his glory. Still others would say that the story was an invention of the early church to contribute to the veneration of Jesus as God.
What I love about the text is that uncertainty. Clearly something important is happening—you’ve got Jesus, prayer, God speaking aloud, and cameos by Moses and Elijah. But what might be even more interesting is that the disciples are able to move on from this moment. We don’t have stories about them running back to tell the other disciples. It’s largely absent from the writings of the early church and apostles. For the disciples, this was one more thing that happened on the journey. Amazing, Jesus. Let’s keep going.
When has something unusual stopped you in your tracks? It doesn’t have to be spiritual in any way. When have you encountered a mystery?
How do you process things you can’t immediately understand? Do you dig in and try to figure them out, or are you more of a shrug-and-move-on person?
What do you think is going on in this text?
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