Something Beyond Words: Luke 9:28-36
To see Jesus as he really is-the Chosen One, the Son of God-can be a dazzling, if baffling, thing. It might even be a bit frightening. Jesus, who was fully human, was and is fully God as well. Peter, John, and James were with Jesus every day, but on this mountain on this day, they were reminded of who Jesus really is. John and James were dumbfounded, and Peter muttered something he wished he hadn’t said. God spoke, Jesus glowed, Moses and Elijah showed up to talk to Jesus, and we, along with the disciples, are reminded of something we are prone to forget. Jesus is the Son of God; he is God the Son. Either way you look at it, we follow a divine Master who knows our dust and our blood.
This passage is a glowing reminder that the Christ who is in us is not bound by anything on earth except his love for us. We follow him now not because we must, but because of love. He is our example; our trials and struggles are his, and his glory is ours.
When Jesus the human changed, it was transfiguration. When we humans change, it is transformation, but both are in the same direction-toward the brightness of who Jesus really is. Peter revealed what we all think: Jesus, let’s stay here on the mountaintop where you glow and Bible characters come to life and earthly hassles are beneath us. We’ve thought it; Peter said it.
But Jesus didn’t come to earth to be above it all. He came to earth to be in the midst of it all. Emmanuel, God is with us. We usually save the name Emmanuel for Christmas, but Lent has its Emmanuel, too. God is with us in the midst of pain, fatigue, disappointment, betrayal, dirty feet, weeping and virtually everything else you can name. God in Christ has experienced all this and more, and knows how to be present with us when we have the same experiences. Jesus is Emmanuel all the time; God with us on the mountain and in the valley. It sounds trite until it is us he is with.
“Listen to him.” That is God’s instruction to Jesus’ disciples (v 35). Listen to him. He glows and he weeps. He talks to the prophets of old and the prostitutes of last night. In the beginning he was the Word and in the end he was the Lamb. Listen to him. God says, “Listen to him,” because Jesus stands alone (v 36). Moses and Elijah left heaven long enough to listen to him. Peter, James, and John listened to him. “Listen to him” is good advice for us.
The last sentence of this passage is intriguing. Peter, James, and John, “kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen” (v 36). Aren’t we supposed to tell the good news? Is there anything about Jesus we are not supposed to share with the world?
Some things are too personal to tell to the world, even things between Jesus and us. Some things are to be held between Jesus and us not because they are secrets or are bad, but because they hold the intimacy of our relationship to him. Some things need to be pondered and processed before we know exactly how to tell them and to whom to tell them. Sometimes that pondering and processing can take awhile. We need to be silent about some things we know about Jesus because others wouldn’t understand, or would not yet understand.
Sometimes silence is the most appropriate response to something that is beyond words.
Speak Lord; we listen.
A word about the series
The Lenten season has always inspired many people to create everything from poems, art and music to a completely new direction in their lives. This Lenten season Tabernacle will be exploring many of those creations in the hope of inspiring you to compose in a medium that is natural for you. The paintings in the Sanctuary are of the Biblical Stations of the Cross. The artist, Grieg Leach, completed them in 2010. They will help us to visualize the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus. In addition to the paintings there is a Lenten devotional booklet, Return to Me, which is available in print or online. The Stations of the Cross also inspired these devotions, written by Terry York of Baylor University. Living with these two bodies of artistic expression based on the Biblical Stations of the Cross throughout the season of Lent should help us as we seek to return our lives to God by walking with Jesus though his final days.
Pray, read, think and return to God.