Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Transfiguration - Matthew 17:1-13

The Transfiguration, a story that appears in three of the four gospels, is quite literally a mountain top experience for Peter, James and John. For a brief moment they are shown more fully than ever before the nature of Jesus' relationship with his heavenly Father. Yet this moment of glory comes right after Jesus' first prediction of his suffering and death, and the scene ends with more discussion of this coming event. It is a mountain top experience, but one that is deeply connected with life down in the valleys of the real world. The reflection questions this week reflect this contrast of mountain and valley.

  •  Read Matthew 17:1-8. Peter offers to build shelters for Jesus, Moses and Elijah on the mountain. What are some ways that we try to hold onto our spiritual ‘mountain top’ experiences, rather than taking their lessons with us back down into the valleys of everyday life?
  • The specific word used for 'shelter' also suggests the Tabernacle and Temple that provided a concrete home for God's presence among the people of Israel. Yet for Christians Jesus is God's presence with us, and he goes back down into the valley. What are some of the ways we tend to keep God in a separate 'mountain top' dwelling, rather than carrying God with us throughout the whole of our lives?
  • Read Matthew 17:9-13. The transfiguration has teaching about Jesus’ suffering and death both before and after it. How does this teaching affect how we understand the vision on the mountain top? What does it mean to say that Jesus is both the glorious Son of God and the one who freely chose to suffer and die for us?

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