What the Usual Suspects Saw

Matthew 17:1-9 – Transfiguration Sunday – for Sunday, February 26, 2017

“But Jesus came and touched them. ‘Get up,’ he said. ‘Don’t be afraid.’ When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.” (Matthew 17:7-8)

“Don’t be afraid.”

So Jesus said.

So we tell children when the creaks and groans from the house, in a winter’s storm, sounds like the approach of a monster.

So I’ve told groups of young hikers—accustomed to lights that easily switch on, televisions that glow with entertainment, and street lamps that brighten the neighborhood—when darkness shrouds the mountains and a flickering campfire is the only light.

So a million and more spouses have encouraged their beloved when they’ve headed inside a cancer center for another treatment.

Afraid we are. Of strange sounds. Of the dark. Of death.

Fear transfigures us.

Hope also does.

Once, midway through the Gospel accounts (in three of the four versions of the good news), Jesus invited the usual suspects—Peter, James, and John—up to the mountain with him. Though not on the peak for Moses’ forty days and nights, they lingered long enough to witness Jesus’ transfiguration. In a swirl of light and sound, of holy voices and legendary figures, Jesus’ countenance glowed, and his clothes shimmered as bright as the noonday sun. The child from Nazareth was proclaimed as one that pleased God.

The disciples, Matthew succinctly stated, “fell on their faces, filled with awe.” Continue reading →