“The Lord’s Glory!”
Exodus 24:12-18 (24:16) – February 19, 2023
Sometimes, I run into people who seem to have a permanent rain cloud over their heads. Do you know that sort of person? Instead of positivity, they exude negativity. I think of these people as Eeyore, the sad, gray donkey who is a friend of Winnie the Pooh’s and Piglet’s. Their view of life is always sad and negative. Now, think of people who are exactly the opposite, who exude positivity, kindness and light. The exact opposite of an Eeyore! Many people are often drawn to their positivity and good spirit.
In our Scripture reading from Exodus today, we see Moses getting ready to go up on the top of the mountain to meet with the Lord. All of the people of Israel are scared to death. The huge crowd of people see the lightning, hear the thunder, and watch the great clouds cover the mountain. I suspect there was strong wind and great sounds of commotion, too.
God gave Moses a command, for him to come up to the top of the mountain and to meet with the Lord. Perhaps we focus more on the positive, on Moses going up to see God on the cloud-covered mountain top than on the negative, on the frightened people of Israel cowering below. I know that this chapter in Exodus is right at the beginning of Israel’s wilderness journey. However, the way the people of Israel begin to act here is the way they continue to act for the next forty years. These griping and disgruntled people act like Eeyores! Always negative, always sad and despairing, always with a permanent rain cloud over their heads!
Our Gospel reading for today is from Matthew 17, and features a similar story of the glory of God coming down to rest on a mountain top. Listen to the first few verses: “17 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.”
These three disciples could not believe their eyes! Similar to the people in the Exodus reading, they were shocked, amazed, and afraid. However, these three disciples did not remain this way, unlike Israel. The people of Israel had a negative attitude, for a long, long time! Forty years, and even longer! At least the frightened disciples had the wonderful, positive example of Jesus, especially with this marvelous transfiguration on the mountain top!
This Gospel event is one of the huge events in our Lord Jesus’s three-year ministry. The Transfiguration is a true mountain-top experience. Think about countless artists’ paintings, icons and representations of Jesus’s Transfiguration, throughout the centuries. Many if not most of them concentrate on the blazing, heavenly glory of the changed and revealed Jesus, God’s Son. And, that is absolutely what is going on! However, there is so much more that happens here.
“While Jesus was praying [on the mountain top], the appearance of His face changed. It was not merely the external appearance that was changed. The light which transfigured Him completely was shining from inside. The transfiguration was not the throwing away of the mask of humanity. It was not ceasing to be human. It was the human Jesus who was transfigured. The face that was radiant and shone was the human face of the human Jesus.” 
What was the reaction of the three disciples watching, of Peter, James and John? Complete amazement, and even some babbling from Peter about putting up three booths or little altars to the transfigured Jesus, to Moses and to Elijah. Further, I am wondering what was the continuing reaction of the people of Israel in Exodus?
As Moses came down from the mountain top, his face was brightly shining from the inside out, from his encounter with God’s glory.
We have already discussed how the people of Israel were always looking at things from the worst point of view. Just like Eeyore, with a fearful or gloomy or negative way of looking at things. Typical of that gloomy expectation, Israel was so scared of seeing Moses – a man just like any of them – with a shiny face, they all insisted that Moses wear a veil, covering his face.
I wonder: are you and I afraid, overwhelmed to see our Lord Jesus all transfigured? All glorious, as He was on the mountain? Are we scared to look into His shiny face? Are we perhaps like Eeyore? Everything and everyone has a gloomy cast, or a tarnished lining to it? Are we always expecting the worst, even if we are on the mountain top with Jesus?
“When all is over — when Moses and Elijah are gone, the voice [from heaven] is quiet, Jesus’ face and clothing have returned to normal, and the disciples are left in holy awe — all that is left is Jesus. Whatever all these signs and symbols may have meant, the disciples are once again with their Lord, their teacher, their friend.” 
I suspect many may be missing what is important here. Instead of being troubled by surface, shiny appearances, we find we are always in the presence of Jesus. Plus, Jesus gives us a future, coming attraction for all of us here. “Transfiguration is not magic but the destiny of all creation in Christ – to be transformed and filled with the divine light.” 
We have the opportunity to listen to Him, as the voice from heaven told us. As you and I go through Lent during these next weeks and journey with Jesus to the cross, we will have the opportunity to listen again to stories of Jesus, stories about love and about the Good News of God reaching out to each one of us. Whether we are under a permanent rain cloud, as sad and difficult Eeyores, or positive and looking on the bright side, we all see Jesus. Jesus remains, reaching out to each of us, all of us, in help, healing and love. Alleluia, amen.
(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. #PursuePEACE – and A Year of Being Kind . Thanks!