the grace, mercy and peace of God our Father
be with us, in the name of his risen son,
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; Amen.
This is my beloved son … listen to him.
Since this is one of the few times that the
very voice of God speaks to people in the
New Testament, it must be an important message.
It starts with the proclamation that Jesus
is God’s beloved son. We readers have
seen these words before, way back at Jesus’
baptism. But it isn’t clear if these
four disciples have heard them. For one thing,
they probably weren’t there themselves.
And for another thing, the words spoken at
Jesus’ baptism are in first person:
You are my beloved son, with you I am well
pleased. This makes us think that in the Jordan,
Jesus was the only one who heard God’s
But if we hear the rest of this sentence,
we know that God is speaking to more than
just Jesus, because after the proclamation,
God tells the other four to listen to him.
Listen to him. Really listen to him. There
is a difference between hearing something
and listening to something. Igor Stravinsky
once said, “To listen is an effort,
and to hear is no merit. Even a duck hears.”
Of course Stravinsky was talking about the
effort that a person should put in to listening
to music. If it is true of music, how much
more does it speak to Jesus’ words?
It is one thing to see or hear Jesus. We have
Bibles at our fingertips everywhere, including
on our smart phones to hear Jesus’ words.
We can even put them in red ink so that they
stand out more than the other words. But what
does it take to actually listen to Jesus’
glory, to his teachings and to his leadership.
So what in particular is God saying when he
tells us and the four disciples on the mountain
to listen to Jesus?
In its original context, God might be talking
about Jesus’ three predictions of what
will be happening as his life unfolds. Just
before this transfiguration occurs, Jesus
tells his disciples that he will be turned
over to the religious leaders who will kill
him on a cross and he will be raised from
the dead. Peter rebukes Jesus, which leads
to Jesus rebuking Peter back. Jesus then teaches
about how his followers are to take up their
crosses and follow him. I wonder if those
who were present to hear those words really
listened to them. I wonder if they listened
to what the words really meant for each of
them, because after the transfiguration, Jesus
talks about his impending death two more times,
and after each of those times the disciples
still act like they didn’t really listen.
After the next passion prediction, Jesus catches
the disciples arguing over which of them will
be considered the greatest in God’s
kingdom. After the third one, James and John
will ask Jesus to allow them to sit at his
right and left hands in his glory. I am not
sure if they ever really listen to Jesus!
Before we judge too quickly, when we consider
Jesus’ words that God wants US to listen
to, I wonder how good a job we do ourselves.
Have we really listened to Jesus when he has
told us to give food to the hungry? To not
be afraid, but to have faith? That whoever
wants to be first of all must be last and
servant of all? That we are to love our enemies
and pray for those who persecute us? What
does it mean to really listen to these words?
Well, our children helped us out with this
in their song this morning. They sang, “This
little light of mine, I’m going to let
it shine.” As we consider the brightly
shining image of Jesus, transfigured on the
mountaintop, we must think of how we are called
to reflect that light in all that we do. In
the passage from our second lesson, Paul tells
the Corinthians that it is the God who said,
“Let light shine out of darkness,”
who has shone in our hearts to give the light
of the knowledge of the glory of God in the
face of Jesus Christ. God shone the light
of Jesus into our hearts; God commands us
to let that same light of Jesus shine in the
darkness of the world.
If we are to understand Paul’s words
in our short passage, we have to go back to
the last verse of 2 Corinthians chapter 3:
All of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the
glory of the Lord as thought reflected in
a mirror, are being transformed into the same
image from one degree of glory to another;
for this comes from the Lord, the spirit.
But the Greek word for seeing in the sentence,
“seeing the glory of the Lord,”
in that passage, kataprizomai, can either
mean to behold or to reflect. In other words
when we behold the glory of Jesus like the
disciples on the mountain did, we listen to
him in such a way that we reflect the light
that bathes us. This little light of mine
is really the light of Jesus, and I’m
going to let it shine … and when I do,
the whole world is going to see the light
of Jesus through me!
When we are told to listen to the glorified
Jesus, we are not only being told to hear
him; we are not only being told to behold
him; we are not only being told to take him
in with all of our senses. We are being told
to take him in SO THAT we can reflect him
back out into the darkness of the world. That
is why they could not just stay on the mountaintop
with Moses and Elijah and build booths there.
It was not time for that. The time was for
them to go down into the valleys and be lights
in the darkness of sin, death and the devil.
When I heard this past week that little Angel
Marie had died suddenly and unexpectedly,
I was heartbroken. She was only two months
and so tiny. We had barely welcomed her into
our family a couple of times, and not yet
by baptism. As we hear the story of Jesus’
transfiguration again this morning, we are
called to listen to Jesus, really listen to
him. How will we reflect Jesus’ light
in the darkness of this little ones’
death? by showing Jesus’ love in many
different ways. We don’t pretend to
understand why things like this happen, but
we somehow are able to share the love of Jesus
with those hurting the most in ways that helps
them in their grief. God has promised to wipe
every tear from the eyes of those who mourn
her death. Maybe that is how we are to reflect
Jesus’ glory with Angel’s family
– to help alleviate the grief by joining
Angel’s family in this difficult time.
The glory of Jesus is evident today not only
for us to experience in the dark times, but
also for us to reflect when times are dark
for others. Today we are encouraged by God
and by our youngest members to let our light
shine, let it shine, let it shine …
because when we do, it is the really the glory
of Jesus that is shining in this dark world.
May it be so, in the name of Christ our Lord;