Listen to him!

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Matthew 17:1 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

Jesus has been telling his closest disciples he would have to die, but that he would be raised on the third day. This is a hard thing for the disciples to swallow because it runs counter to what they expect of the Messiah – one who would rule as King of Israel via political, military power – as David had done many years before. In fact another name for the Messiah was “son of David”. Although David’s life was frequently in jeopardy during his reign he was never killed but died of natural causes at an old age. The same would be true of the Messiah, the son of David – Jesus. That’s what they thought anyway. But Jesus had been telling them otherwise.

And so we have this passage in which Jesus is “transfigured” before Peter, James, and John. Jesus is also accompanied by Moses (the law-giver) and Elijah (the prophet), which suggests that Moses and Elijah vouch for what Jesus is saying. Finally we are told the glory of the Lord shone upon them and the voice from heaven said, “This is my son… listen to him!” In my mind it’s as if God the Father is saying, “I know this isn’t what you wanted or expected, but trust Jesus. Not only are Moses and Elijah vouching for him, but I am as well. Listen to what he tells you. Don’t worry, it will all work out.”

My experience as a church leader in these last two years has been totally unexpected. The disruptions have been enormous in the church and out of the church. There are many times when I’m not sure what to do, where to turn, what to expect, how to make sense of it all. And so I’m praying for the Lord to reveal to me and to those who partner with me in leading the church what we are to do next. Lord speak for your servant is listening. If you want to show up with Moses and Elijah, that would be most welcome. In any case, give me ears to hear when you call and the grace to follow you. Amen.

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