“Are We Speechless?”
Luke 9:28-36 (9:36) – February 27, 2022
Have you ever been totally in awe? Awe can be a jaw-dropping experience, when you and I are so filled with amazement that words totally escape us. I consider myself fairly good with words (what my husband calls a wordsmith). I must admit that from time to time, I have been filled with shock and awe so much that I find myself without words. I wonder whether that has ever happened to you?
Remember, Jesus took His inner circle of disciples with Him to the top of that mountain, Mount Tabor. Dr. Luke mentions the three disciples speechless and filled with awe. Can you imagine how the disciples looked, by reading the last verse of our Scripture reading?
We return to the Bible to read the narrative of the Transfiguration this morning. We see Jesus high and lifted up. Two thousand years ago, and yet, immediate and present right here with us. Despite all of the horrible and heartbreaking things that are happening all around us, we still can find ourselves speechless. At Jesus, transfigured before our eyes.
Yes, Dr. Luke talks of Peter, James and John being awestruck by Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountaintop. But, what exactly does “transfigured” mean? Is that just a churchy word that gets thrown around sometimes in worship services and bible studies? And, nobody really ever defines what it means!
This word only appears here, in the narratives of this event from Matthew, Mark and Luke – and those are the only times it appears. This word is made up of two parts or roots. (Remember back to grammar class in school?) These two key parts “Trans” (change) and “figure” (shape or form) define what happened in this event.
First, I’d like for us to consider the hymn “Fairest Lord Jesus.” This was the hymn we sang in church at the opening of worship today. The final line links to the transfiguration saying “Jesus shines brighter; Jesus shines purer than all the angels heaven can boast.” Here we see a tangible image of brightness, of visible glory.
Another well-known hymn pictures this event on the mountaintop. “Holy, Holy, Holy” has a familiar tune; have you ever really thought about the words? Let me lift up the 3rd verse. “Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee, Thought the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see; Only Thou are holy—there is none beside Thee, Perfect in pow’r, in love and purity.”
We sing praises to the Messiah, our Lord Jesus, the Lord God Almighty, at whose feet every knee will bow. Yes, we all are sinful, and our eyes cannot be lifted to see the glorified Lord Jesus Christ. Yet God has this glory-filled event recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke for us to read. 2000 years later. And, it still renders those who read the account speechless.
Remember, God the Heavenly Father (for that is what Jesus calls God) did not do this for Jesus. Jesus knew who and what He was, and He was secure in His own Personhood and being. God did this for the disciples. The disciples had been living with Jesus every day for several years. They went everywhere with Him, ate with Him, even bunked down by Him at night.  You get to know a person very well if you do that for long enough. The disciples knew that Jesus was something special, even though they were not quite sure what that meant. Yet – Peter, James and John were amazed, speechless by the incredible events that happened on the mountain.
Perhaps you have known a special person in your own life, someone you knew when you were young, or someone you met along life’s journey. Pastor Sharron Blezard said, “Some folks just seem vividly alive, almost glowing, and full of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Maybe you know someone like this, a person whose life is so well grounded in Christ’s grace and love that she or he appears unfazed by the storms of life, radiant in the face of adversity, eyes and heart always fixed on God. Surely this person has dwelt in the presence of the Divine.”  These special folks are a blessing to all they encounter. I have been blessed to know a few of these exceptional people. But, they were people, God’s creations, just like you and me.
By wrapping Jesus in a glorious, shining cloud and incredible clothes, God was telling the disciples something all-important. God is telling all of us the exact same thing. “Jesus is much more than a special person. Jesus is Emmanuel, God-with-you.”
“Peter, James, and John were awestruck by Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountaintop. Their lives were forever altered by the experience; they were changed. We can be changed, too, by encountering God deeply and regularly. In fact, I believe that it is impossible to be in deep relationship with God through prayer, worship, study, service, fellowship, and sharing and not be transfigured.”
Dr. Luke doesn’t stop with that mountaintop experience. “Jesus and the disciples got right back down to the work of ministry–in this case healing a possessed boy. We may plan and vision and dream, and that is all well and good, but our vision must have hands and feet to carry it forward. How is your congregation doing that now? What might it do in the future?” 
Do you hear? We don’t stay parked on that mountain. God has too much for us to do! Yes, proclaim God’s Good News! And, yes, get involved in ministry, in whatever way you can. That’s what we are all called to do. And, the awe-inspiring image of Jesus, high and lifted up, will continue to give us encouragement as we minister – one day at a time. Alleluia, amen!
“Changed,” Sharron R. Blezard, Stewardship of Life, 2013.