One of my favorite preachers, Barbara Brown Taylor
once opened a sermon on this text with a fair question:
“Who can talk about the Transfiguration?”[i]
“Jesus certainly did not talk about it” she noted.
“Neither did the three disciples who were with him.”
You find this story, the shimmering glowing transmorphing of Jesus’s appearance
in Matthew and Mark and Luke, all three.
But, Matthew tells us that Jesus ordered them
“Tell no one about the vision”
that is, “until AFTER the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
And Luke’s version of this story doesn’t even have THAT qualification:
“They kept silent” Luke says
“and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.”
One wonders how Luke or Matthew or Mark ever heard about it themselves,
or whether they questioned the wisdom of writing it down.
But the moment they did, the EXPERIENCE became public property.
All kinds of people started pawing through it, looking for significance,
explaining why so-and-so was there,
why such-and-such said this-or-that,
wondering which of the possible mountains could be
THE site for THE mountaintop experience.
All trying, through their labor, to get beyond the “What you See”
to find the “What you Get”
But I guess that’s all we know how to do with an experience, any experience,
that does not really FIT any of our normal categories.
We just keep HANDLING it
until we WEAR IT DOWN to where it feels safe, managable.
We just keep ANALYZING it
until we can say SOMETHING, anything, intelligent about it.
As if coming to certainty about what Moses and Elijah represent
Or whether Jesus’ face looked more like-a-ghost or more like-he-had-a-sunburn
Would enable us to grasp what the heck was going on here. [Read more…]