Just before our Gospel lesson this morning, Jesus explains to his disciples that he is going to die… and they probably will too. This was absolutely a very stressful difficult lesson to hear. The very next thing that Jesus does addresses this stress, pressure, confusion. Jesus is going to calm their stress by confirming his divinity.
So Jesus and the disciples travel near to a mountain, and one evening he takes his inner circle up the mountain to pray. They head up the mountain and Jesus begins to glow brighter than anything that anyone has ever seen. Then two men appear, two men that were known to be absolutely in heaven. Moses whom God himself buried, and Elijah who was taken straight to heaven by God.Then a cloud lowers around them all (clouds represented God’s presence) and the father speaks. Between these amazing details Peter James and John knew what was going on. They knew that heaven was surrounding them. Heaven was brought right to them while they stood there with their jaws hanging down.
This text is in all four Gospels so we know it’s vitally important, and today we have the Luke text in front of us, so what is Luke telling us uniquely? In Luke, The text transitions to “the next morning” or “the following day” so Luke is clueing us into something interesting here. Luke is telling us that the transfiguration occurs at night! Think of the light! Think of the echo and the boom of God’s voice! Now realizing the time of day it makes a lot of sense why Peter and James and John wanted to so quickly put up shelters for everyone.
What about the 9?
I think that there is a big detail that we almost always ignore when we go through this text- the other 9 disciples. What about the other 9 disciples? What about the men that were told to just wait? So first of all they must have been actually thrilled to not be taken up the mountain, think about it! It’s close to the evening and so undoubtedly everyone is tired. Then Jesus says I need three guys to come with me to climb that mountain a bit to watch while I pray for a while. I’m sure that was not the choice job to draw from their perspective. Then some time passes and there’s a light brighter than anything they’ve ever seen up where Jesus and the three went. Then some booming noise and clouds appearing in the light, and then gone. At that exact moment they know that they got it all wrong and missed out on something amazing. Then Jesus, Peter, James, and John return and you’re excited to find out what happened! And they all tell you nothing. Nothing. The 9 weren’t chosen to go up the mountain, and now they can’t even hear about what they missed out on, but know it’s something absolutely amazing.
We are the 9. We are those 9 all too often aren’t we? Everytime you’re a kid and you’re not picked first, you’re the 9. Everytime college acceptance comes out and you didn’t get your top choice, you’re the 9. Everytime you are passed over for a promotion or a raise that you saw others receive, you’re the 9. Everytime you feel like you were the last to hear the news, you’re the 9. Everytime you are so jealous or envious of someone else, everytime you forget your own blessings and are captivated in the blessings of the people around you, you are the 9.
So I ask you then, the 9, why would Jesus ever do something like leave out the 9, why would Jesus keep us back from some of the blessings we want so badly?
The disciples had different roles to fill and Jesus absolutely positively needed to be sure that this account- when heaven comes down and affirms Jesus as the Son of God- would live into the ages. So he creates a situation where the people that saw it are dying to tell someone, and the people that were not there were dying to hear what happened. So this account, that affirms Jesus as divine would stay in the forefront of their minds for a long time as they all so badly wanted to tell and be told. And all four Gospels get an account of the Transfiguration and you get to hear about it today because Jesus used the human mind to his advantage to further the important truth of his standing as God.
The truth is that the 9 and the 3 had different roles to fill in order to accomplish God’s plans and will. The same is true for you. You are uniquely gifted and blessed by your creator to fulfill his plans and will in your life and no one, not one other person could fulfill God’s plan for you.
You might still be thinking, though, “but the 3 they got to see a glimpse of heaven!” True, but I promise you right now as we sit here this morning, the 9 who remained faithful have seen a fullness of heaven’s glory that nothing can compare to- not even the Transfiguration.
But what about us? What about when we feel like the 9. God remembers us all with a glimpse into heaven and his divinity. Today he gathers us together to hear his living and active Word, and calls us all to his altar, where the very body and blood of Jesus await to gather us together with the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, there heaven is opened for you and there forgiveness awaits.