I wonder what things in the world around you make you exclaim: “Oh wow?” How about a
beautiful sunset or a snowy scene or incredible mountains? Might you say: “wow!” when
you see a new tiny baby or a beautiful flower in your garden? There are many things in our
world that are so beautiful, grand or powerful that we cannot help but exclaim: “wow!”
One day three of Jesus’ disciples experienced an “wow!” moment. Jesus had taken them
for a walk up a mountain and while he was there, his appearance changed dramatically. In
our Bible reading set for Sunday (19th February – Matthew 17:1-9) we read that
Jesus’ “face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” (Matthew
17:2) that he was transfigured.
Don’t we get some difficult words to deal with in church? Transfiguration – what does it
mean? How did this story happen? What’s it all about? You could be forgiven, particularly if
you’ve read Harry Potter or seen the films, that transfiguration is changing something from
one form to another but that isn’t really what it is in this story.
I think it’s about the three disciples Jesus took with him seeing Jesus as he really is – as a
part of God – and THAT’s hard for us to understand – in fact – I don’t think we CAN
understand it – just as I don’t think we CAN explain what happened but I DO think we can
try and work out what it’s about and maybe what it means for us. We often make it
complicated but in reality what the disciples saw was Jesus in all of His glory, and it was a
massive “wow!” moment for them.
Up until that point, although Jesus was doing wonderful miracles, the three disciples had
seen Jesus as a man – now, up the mountain they saw Jesus as he truly was and is; the
Son of God, and it was totally awe-some! Not only did they see Jesus in his glory, but the
disciples also heard God speaking to them from a bright cloud, telling them that Jesus was
his Son and that they were to listen to him. As they came down the mountain later that day,
they must have been thinking, “Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow! We have seen God!” They
caught a vision that God is beautiful, powerful and righteous. They experienced how truly
awe-some he is. Of course, at the bottom of the mountain, life had just been going on
oblivious of what had been going on at the top and Jesus just got stuck in and dealt with is
– the same jesus who had been shining with the presence of God was now healing a sick
child and caring for his family – still a WOW moment but maybe not as dramatic!
Sometimes I think we forget that we talk about the same Jesus that the disciples knew all
of those years ago. We might say that Jesus is alive but what do we really understand by
that and are we in awe of who Jesus really is? Do you think of Jesus and exclaim: “Oh
The Bible tells us that one day Jesus will return in all of his glory. (Matthew 16:27) but until
that day comes, we need to let the beautiful things that we see in the world around us that
make us go, “Oh wow!” draw us into a deeper relationship and make us want to do the
things he did – like helping the family of the sick child at the bottom of the mountain.
We read the story of Jesus taking Peter, James, and John, away from the disciple group
and up onto a mountain. I think I’d like to point out too that you should always be
suspicious when God calls you away from the group for something. When Jesus asks
these three disciples to come away, apart, they should have worked out by now that
something is about to happen.
There are some moments when heaven and earth seem to meet – moments we really
can’t explain but which fill us with wonder and change us for ever. We tend to call them
mountain top experiences – after the story of Peter, James and John – and we, like them,
would like them to last for ever. Sometimes they are so powerful that they change us for
Lent is about to start when we will be reminded that we can’t stay on the mountain top for
ever but, for a little while, it’s ok to stay with wonder! There’s so much in the world that isn’t
right and good that we can lose the sense of wonder and glory – maybe today and through
the week you can notice some of the things in the world that make you go wow and, when
you do, remember the wonderful God who is greater than we can imagine.
Ruth Parry 19 February 2023