Friday, March 14, 2014

Come Up the Mountain--and Listen. A Reflection for Transfiguration Sunday.

  Back in 1993 I was making a Scriptural study tour during which we had the privilege of visiting the Church of the Transfiguration on top of Mt. Tabor where it is believed  that wonderful event took place.  Our group ascended in a caravan of Mercedes Benz taxis.  I'm sure that Jesus, Peter, James and John had other means of transportation.

  On this upcoming second Sunday of Lent the Church recalls this wondrous event telling the story of how Jesus appeared to them in all His glory, revealed to them as the Son of God, accompanied by Moses and Elijah. (Mt. 17:1-9)

   I'm sure that the ordinary person in the pew might listen to this account and think that this indeed must have been a wonderful moment, but what does it have to do with us. How does it apply to our lives?   Let's try to answer that question

   The experience was such a wonderful event that Peter wants to stay there and build three tents, one for Jesus, one for Moses, one for Elijah.  The response to that request is interesting.  The Father speaks from a cloud and says, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him."  Since Jesus has not spoken to them since they arrived at the top of the mountain we might ask, "What are we to listen to?"  Of course we are to listen to the entire message of Jesus but in particular we need to be aware that just prior to coming up the mountain Jesus has told the disciples two things that they didn't want to hear--first that He Himself had to go to Jerusalem and suffer (see Mt. 16,21), and second that whoever wishes to follow Him must take up the cross everyday, and follow him. (see Mt. 16, 24ff.)  These word were hard to hear for the twelve and they are hard to hear for us.  We prefer a God who does not suffer and who removes us from our suffering.  Jesus, in being transfigured before them is comforting and strengthening them for what is to come.  The transfiguration is such a wonderful moment that they want to stay on top of the mountain.  They don't want to descend and follow Jesus to the cross.

   We are like those disciples.  We want often seek religious experience that makes us feel good, moments, if you will, of transfiguration.  It may be a beautifully celebrated Mass, a retreat, a private moment of prayer.  All of these are beautiful.  They are indeed moments of transfiguration if we encounter the Lord in them.  They are not, however, meant to be moments of escape, but rather moments of comfort. strength and challenge that launch us back into our everyday lives, ready to take up our crosses, not for the sake of suffering as an end in itself, but believing that through the Cross we will also find resurrection.  That is why Jesus instructs them not to tell anyone about this until the Son of Man rises from the dead.

1 comment:


    Is it possible to be saved without having your sins forgiven? Was Saul saved by faith alone before his sins were forgiven?

    If Saul was saved on the road to Damascus, then he was saved without having his sins forgiven.

    Saul believed in Jesus on the road Damascus, but his sins were forgiven three days later in Damascus
    Act 9:1-19......9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank....

    Saul sins were forgiven in Damascus, three days later, not on the road to Damascus.
    Acts 22:1-16.....10 And I said, 'What shall I do Lord?' And the Lord said to me, 'Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.'.......16 Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins,calling on His name!

    Saul was not saved by faith only. Saul was saved by believing and being baptized in water.

    Jesus did not establish faith only salvation on the road to Damascus. Jesus confirmed what He already had said "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved"... (Mark 16:16)

    You cannot be saved unless your sins have been forgiven.

    In order to support the doctrine of faith only men have offered many reasons why the Scriptures cannot be trusted.
    1. The Bible is not the inerrant word of God, it has many errors and contradictions.
    2. You have to be a Greek scholar to understand the Bible. If you understand the original Greek language, then you would know water baptism is not essential for forgiveness of sins.
    3. You need to use extra-Biblical writings to understand the plan of salvation.
    4. The Bible has been mistranslated, therefore men are saved by faith only and not the way it is presented in the Bible.

    If God is not smart enough to give men an accurate translation of His plan for salvation and Christian living, then why would anyone trust in Him for salvation or for anything else.

    God has given us His plan of salvation in many translations, in different languages. You do not have to know Greek.You do not have to have a Greek dictionary. You do have to be Greek. If men had to be able to read and understand original Greek to understand the Bible, then all Bibles would be in Greek.


    Men are not saved by faith only and there is no verse of Scripture that states men are saved by faith only. Men are saved by faith, but not by faith only.