Luke 9.28-36 (Ex 34.29-35) 1
The Transfiguration and Organising
9.18-20 “Who do people say that I am?” incident
John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets
“who do you say that I am?”
The messiah of God (the Christ)
This is the climax of Jesus’ ministry
9.21-27 The Son of Man . . . . must face . . .
Rejection by the religious elite (elders, chief priests and the scribes)
Be killed, rising again three days later
There is then talk of disciples taking up crosses, losing lives and even death
Jesus is facing what we would call his greatest ‘crisis’ so far
Then a week passes – what happened during this week?
Why don’t we know?
Waiting, hanging around?
With too much time on their hands??
Wouldn’t thoughts run amock around your head? Thoughts of crosses to bear, of losing
Wouldn’t you obsess about it?
What would serve Jesus best at this time?
What would serve the disciples the best?
What on earth was going to happen to them?
So what happens? Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a high mountain
To the top, where they are all away from business as usual down below
Where you cannot hear the telephone, get a mobile signal or view your emails
Jesus takes the three into a ‘Sabbath moment’
And Jesus prays
Sometimes focus too much on these pictures of Jesus in fervent intercession
I think that may be his prayer was marked more by what he was not doing, rather than
what he was doing
Luke 9.28-36 (Ex 34.29-35) 2
He was not healing the sick, raising the dead, challenging injustice, arguing with the temple
authorities or reviewing his H&S policies
He was just being – fully present in the moment of rest – this was his prayer, I suggest
fully present to the presence of God – the highest form of prayer – cf “the best way to love
somebody is to listen to them”
The disciples, on the other hand, were weighed down by
Distraction and worry of what had happened, and what was to come (crosses, losing,
They were not fully alive in the present moment
I am not sure that they were enjoying a Sabbath moment
The reason they were not praying well was not they were not saying the right words or
o But because they were living in the distraction of their minds, and not from their
spirits, they were not rooted in their souls – that inner place of stability and rest
Luke calls this state ‘being weighed down by sleep’ (which is more than snoring sleep) – they were
sort of ‘dead’, they were not fully aware and alive
But they did just manage to stay awake, alert and watching enough
o They had totally slipped from the moment
And they did not miss what was to come (thankfully)
As Jesus was in his state of prayer, of being, he was utterly transformed
Just like Moses at Mt Sinai
And then, appearing with Jesus were great figures of Israel’s tradition – Moses (himself!)
And what were they talking about? . . .
. . . what was soon about to happen in Jerusalem, Jesus’ departure
The vision started to fade and wane
Mouthy Peter calls out to Jesus, in a desperate attempt to hang onto the experience
“Let’s build three structures to put each of you in!”
o The text says that Peter did not realise what he was saying
o But the experience faded all the more quickly – and soon it was gone
o And the disciples were terrified as they became enveloped in the fog of the cloud
Luke 9.28-36 (Ex 34.29-35) 3
I have been reading recently in a book where the author says: “The tendency of the human mind
always is to organise”
His complaint is that the church has taken the free and wide ranging faith of Jesus and the
chaotic free for all worship of St Paul (in Corinthians, all bring something) and we have
(He sees St Cyprian of the third century as being the first and main culprit – a lawyer who
wanted and tidy, orderly and controlled church)
We have grown up in a culture where if we are busy helping to organise and run the life of the
church – we believe we are doing the work of Christ
But, says my author, when John the Baptist sent word to ask if Jesus was the messiah, the message
“Tell him what you see and hear
the blind receive their sight
the lame walk
leprosy sufferers are healed
and the deaf hear”
He did not speak about anything that he had organised
o He spoke about his direct interaction with other people – the damaged, the sinned
against and those who had lost their way
My author says that the church only makes its way by the works
St James said that faith without these works is dead, it is no good
So are we involved with the actual works of Jesus, or just busy in the organising of them
(Hugh Studdard Kennedy – published 1930
Dick (HRL) Sheppard – The Impatience of a Parson 1927
Xtains have organised the works, and so think that they are still dong them
But when we organise them, we lose the power of love and the passion that was originally there
Luther and the reformation
Wesley and the Methodist Church
other splits from churches)
Back to the gospel reading:
In the face of suffering and death, Peter, James and John experience this wonderful affirmation of
With Jesus, Moses and Elijah
And what does Peter want to do? Organise it!
imprison the vision
fossilise the experience
Luke 9.28-36 (Ex 34.29-35) 4
And when he finished his sentence the vision was lost
The fog came and covered them – and they were terrified
A voice came from God
“This is my Son, my chosen, listen to him!”
This was all that was needed – no structures of any sort
No affirmation from a governance structure
No position, award or qualification
No commendation of a more senior person in the human organisation
Just the voice of God – ‘You are my son’ – cf Jesus’ baptism
Or as in Isaiah – ‘you are mine’
It is not WHAT you do that matters – organisation
But WHO you are – a chip off the old block – image of God
Something needs organising to enable things to happen – but the organising is not the core work –
it only helps us to do the core work
But we must not believe that this is the real work of the church
Help us to believe
that what does not seem enough
is truly enough.
Help us to see
that we belong to you
and that there is nothing else we need.
Help us to resist the belief
that by merely planning and managing
that we have done the works of Jesus.
Help us to risk
loss and suffering
that we may not lose what is most important.