Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
THE FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORDST. MATHEW 17: 1 -18
GLORIFICATION AND IDENTIFICATION OF JESUS CHRIST
“Jesus gave a command to the demon, and it went out of the boy, and at that very moment he was healed “.(St. Mathew 17:18)
The portion for today’s devotion can be divided into two parts. The transfiguration of Jesus Christ at the mountain top (St. Mathew 17: 1-13), and His identification with the suffering people by the healing of a demon-possessed boy at the valley of the mountain(St. Mathew 17: 14-18).
This incident of the transfiguration of Jesus is one of the five important events in the life of Jesus Christ. The other events are His baptism, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension to Heaven. This event is recorded in all the three synoptic Gospels i.e. Mathew (17: 1 -18), Mark (9:2 – 29), and Luke (9: 28-43). Mathew and Mark say that this incident occurred six days after Peter’s declaration about Jesus at Caesarea Philippi “ You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”, whereas Luke says it happened after eight days. Both the Eastern and Western Churches hold their remembrance of the transfiguration on 6th August.
Prayer played a regular and important role in the life of Jesus. Here Jesus is taking three disciples namely Peter, James, and John to a high mountain to pray, believed to be Mount Tabor, where a change came over Jesus, his face shined like the sun and his clothes were dazzling white. The three disciples saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. When the incident came to an end a cloud overshadowed them. In Jewish thought, the presence of God is connected with the cloud. It was in the cloud that Moses met God. It was in the cloud that God came to the Tabernacle. It was the cloud that filled the temple built by Solomon at the time of dedication. The cloud represents the presence of God.
The transfiguration has a double significance.
(1) It did something very precious for Jesus :
It strengthened Jesus to go forward with the decision to go to Jerusalem to face and accept the Cross. On the mountain top, Jesus received the approval of His decision from Heaven. Jesus put all his plans and intentions before God and God spoke with Jesus. God declared from the cloud “This is my Son, the Beloved; with whom I am well pleased”. On the mountain of the transfiguration, Jesus was assured that he had not chosen the wrong way; but had chosen the essential rightness of the Cross.
Moses and Elijah met with Jesus on the mountain top. Moses was the supreme law-giver of Israel and Elijah was the greatest of the prophets in the Old Testament, and these two persons represented the Old Testament. When these two persons met with Jesus, it meant that the greatest of the law-givers and the greatest of the prophets said to him “Go on” with his decision to go to the Cross.
(II) It did something very precious for the disciples.
It strengthened them for their future ministry: They had been shattered by Jesus’s statement that he was going to Jerusalem to die. That seemed to them the complete negation of all that they understood of Messiah. Things were happening that not only baffled their minds but were also breaking their hearts. The transfiguration experience gave them something to hold on to, even when they could not understand. They heard the voice of God acknowledging Jesus as his own Son. When they heard the voice of God, they were terrified and fell down, Jesus came to them and said “Get up and don’t be afraid.”. It strengthened them for their future ministry.
Disciples became Eyewitnesses of Christ’s Glory(2 Peter 1:16) : The three disciples witnessed the glory of Jesus Christ on the mount of transfiguration. A witness has been defined as a man who first sees and then tells others. They have been asked by Jesus to hide the glory in their hearts for now, which can be communicated after the Son of Man has been raised from death. After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, these disciples witnessed, and spread the Gospel in different parts of the world and became martyrs except for Apostle John.
The transfiguration of Jesus is followed by the miracle of the healing of a demon-possessed boy in the mountain valley (Mathew 17: 14 -18). On the mountain top in the presence of glory, Peter had said “ This is a good place for us to be.“ Then he wanted to build three tents for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, and live there on the mountain top. But Jesus did not agree to remain there. When Jesus and the three disciples came down to the valley, a big crowd was waiting there for Jesus. A father had brought his son suffering from epileptic to the disciples of Jesus, but they could not heal the boy because of their little faith. Jesus rebuked the demon and the boy was instantly healed. This tells us that we are not to remain in glory at the mountain top, but has to come down to the valley to be with the suffering people. We must come down from the mount of transfiguration to the valley of disfiguration.
Let us examine ourselves. Do we prefer to remain at the mountain top and not be willing to come down to the realities of the mountain valley, where people are suffering and needed help? Are we able to heal the wounds of those who are suffering from different life situations? Our Lord Jesus Christ identified Himself with the suffering He saw all around Him. We must not close our eyes to the stark realities of the world in which we live. There is a crying need for a greater feeling of Christian compassion. Our Lord felt for the multitude around Him for their spiritual, physical, and every genuine need. Let us emulate the example of Jesus in our day-to-day life as true Christians.
Let us thank God for the way our glorified Christ identified Himself with the needs of a suffering world, and pray that we may learn to feel for the needs of the marginalized and suffering people around us. Let His name be glorified through our actions, Amen.
Thought for the Day
How can I demonstrate my love for God and for others?
The Mar Thoma Church Staten Island