The disciples were in a turmoil! Their leader, Simon Peter, had just professed his belief that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. To their horror Jesus began to tell them that He would be put to death. At the time, it meant nothing to them that He also added that after three days He would rise from the dead.
Simon Peter, out of sheer love and loyalty protested that this must never happen to Him. The sharp retort of Jesus must have been devastating to Peter. "Get behind me Satan!" Jesus made matters even worse by telling them, "If anyone wants to be a follower of mine let him renounce himself, and take up his cross and follow me."
It is against this background that we are told that after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John up a high mountain, where they had an experience that would convince them they were not making a huge blunder in pinning their future on Jesus.
It was a BLESSED ASSURANCE IN THREE STAGES.
Before their very eyes Jesus was transfigured. He was shimmering with 'out-of-this-world' glory. In spite of everything they had recently heard from Jesus He was evidently brilliantly associated with God! This was BLESSED ASSURANCE No.1!
And then they saw Him standing between two men. God must have revealed to the disciples that these two were Moses and Elijah -the two greatest witnesses to the One and Only God. Jesus being in such eminent company must have convinced them He was not out of step with God's Chosen People, with their history of the Divine Covenant and Promises. This was BLESSED ASSURANCE No 2!
And then, to crown it all, "A cloud came, covering them in shadow; and from the cloud there came a voice, 'This is my Son, the Beloved." Mk.9.7) This was a repeat of the supreme endorsement given to Jesus by His Heavenly Father at His baptism in the Jordan. To this at the Transfiguration the Father added "LISTEN TO HIM." This was surely to bolster the disciples. They had suffered so much anguish after hearing all that Jesus had said to them ! This was BLESSED ASSURANCE No. 3!
With this triple Blessed Assurance the identity of Jesus and the mission of Jesus had been guaranteed by Almighty God Himself!
This phrase, 'LISTEN TO HIM' once spoken to the first disciples is now being spoken to us in our day. To listen to Jesus, in any and every generation, is to carry a heavy weight! Jesus seeks from us the kind of loving obedience as that He gave to His Heavenly Father in Gethsemane, "'Abba, Father!' he said, 'For you everything is possible. Take this cup away from me. But let it be as you, not I, would have it,'" (Mk.14.36)
Meditating on the Transfiguration of Jesus enables us to appreciate something of the divine majesty of the One who was crucified. Christians need an exceptional faith to believe this was actually willed by the One Jesus had described to the disciples as your Father and my Father.
During Lent the Church would want us to reflect that what St. Paul had written to the Corinthians long ago applies to our world today. "We are preaching a crucified Christ …..God's folly is wiser than human wisdom….God's weakness is stronger than human strength," (I Cor.1ch.1).
We may be among those who are troubled that the Almighty, infinitely loving God, doesn't prevent hurricanes, earthquakes and floods; among those who ask how God can allow human beings made in His own image and likeness to behave in such ungodly ways!
It seems that what silenced Simon Peter must now silence us, "You are thinking not as God thinks, but as human beings do," (Mk. 8.33).
As with the disciples so with us: our faith in God will be strengthened as during Lent we reflect on how the Transfiguration of Jesus gives us such Blessed Assurances
May you have a blessed, inspiring, Lent!
Peter Clarke, OP...