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Friday, February 12, 2010

+ T R A N S F I G U R A T I O N + 2010 +


Transfiguration of Our Lord
Last Sunday after Epiphany
February 14, 2010
Exodus 34:29-35
Psalm 99 (9)
2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2
Luke 9:28-36 [37-43a] [37-43a]

Prayer of the Day

Holy God, mighty and immortal, you are beyond our knowing, yet we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Transform us into the likeness of your Son, who renewed our humanity so that we may share in his divinity, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. This is my | Son, my Chosen,
lis- | ten to him! Alleluia. (Luke 9:35)

1a. CONTEXT: Luke 9:28-36 [37-43a]

The story of the Transfiguration of Jesus is found in

all the synoptic gospels and records the intense religious

experience of the three disciples Peter, James and John.

In all three accounts it follows the confession of Peter

and marks the transition from Jesus' preaching in Galilee

to his mission in Jerusalem.

Luke's transfiguration story places Jesus at the

summit of the prophetic and messianic expectations of his

age. The story is not incidental to Luke's gospel, nor an

example of synoptic coincidence. Luke's account, though

essentially similar to the versions of Matthew and Mark,

illumines the true power in Jesus' healing, teaching and

law-giving, and foreshadows the weakness of his followers,

who seem to be drowsy at crucial moments. The vision of

the three disciples is a turning point in Luke's gospel.

On the mountaintop Jesus' Galilean ministry is seen by the

light of Jewish hopes and the road ahead to Jerusalem is

first illumined.

Peter, John and James wake up to see Elijah and Moses

with Jesus, but alert readers of Luke's gospel might well

have been prepared for their appearance. The story of the

feeding of the 5,000 with loaves of bread and fish invokes

a miraculous feeding story of Elijah's in 2 Kings 4:42 and

Moses' feeding of the tribes in the wilderness. At the

beginning of chapter 9 Luke uses Herod to introduce these

associations. Jesus' activities had given rise to reports

that either John the Baptist had been raised, or that

Elijah or one of the prophets had appeared, and Herod

confesses a curiousity. "John I beheaded; but who is this

about whom I hear such things?" (Luke 9:9). Jesus,

according to Luke, asks who the people say he is.

The disciples report the titles Herod had also

heard: John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the prophets.

Peter shares Herod's doubt concerning these but goes

beyond curiousity to conviction. He confesses that Jesus

is "the Christ of God." Now with John and James, Peter

will see Jesus' true identity in the vision of the


1a. TEXT: Luke 9:28-36 [37-43a]


28Ἐγένετο δὲ μετὰ τοὺς λόγους τούτους ὡσεὶ ἡμέραι ὀκτὼ [καὶ] παραλαβὼν Πέτρον καὶ Ἰωάννην καὶ Ἰάκωβον ἀνέβη εἰς τὸ ὄρος προσεύξασθαι. 29καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ προσεύχεσθαι αὐτὸν τὸ εἶδος τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ ἕτερον καὶ ὁ ἱματισμὸς αὐτοῦ λευκὸς ἐξαστράπτων. 30καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄνδρες δύο συνελάλουν αὐτῷ, οἵτινες ἦσαν Μωϋσῆς καὶ Ἠλίας, 31οἳ ὀφθέντες ἐν δόξῃ ἔλεγον τὴν ἔξοδον αὐτοῦ ἣν ἤμελλεν πληροῦν ἐν Ἰερουσαλήμ. 32ὁ δὲ Πέτρος καὶ οἱ σὺν αὐτῷ ἦσαν βεβαρημένοι ὕπνῳ: διαγρηγορήσαντες δὲ εἶδον τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ καὶ τοὺς δύο ἄνδρας τοὺς συνεστῶτας αὐτῷ. 33καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ διαχωρίζεσθαι αὐτοὺς ἀπ∍ αὐτοῦ εἶπεν ὁ Πέτρος πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν, Ἐπιστάτα, καλόν ἐστιν ἡμᾶς ὧδε εἶναι, καὶ ποιήσωμεν σκηνὰς τρεῖς, μίαν σοὶ καὶ μίαν Μωϋσεῖ καὶ μίαν Ἠλίᾳ, μὴ εἰδὼς ὃ λέγει. 34ταῦτα δὲ αὐτοῦ λέγοντος ἐγένετο νεφέλη καὶ ἐπεσκίαζεν αὐτούς: ἐφοβήθησαν δὲ ἐν τῷ εἰσελθεῖν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὴν νεφέλην. 35καὶ φωνὴ ἐγένετο ἐκ τῆς νεφέλης λέγουσα, Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἐκλελεγμένος, αὐτοῦ ἀκούετε. 36καὶ ἐν τῷ γενέσθαι τὴν φωνὴν εὑρέθη Ἰησοῦς μόνος. καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐσίγησαν καὶ οὐδενὶ ἀπήγγειλαν ἐν ἐκείναις ταῖς ἡμέραις οὐδὲν ὧν ἑώρακαν. [ 37Ἐγένετο δὲ τῇ ἑξῆς ἡμέρᾳ κατελθόντων αὐτῶν ἀπὸ τοῦ ὄρους συνήντησεν αὐτῷ ὄχλος πολύς. 38καὶ ἰδοὺ ἀνὴρ ἀπὸ τοῦ ὄχλου ἐβόησεν λέγων, Διδάσκαλε, δέομαί σου ἐπιβλέψαι ἐπὶ τὸν υἱόν μου, ὅτι μονογενής μοί ἐστιν, 39καὶ ἰδοὺ πνεῦμα λαμβάνει αὐτόν, καὶ ἐξαίφνης κράζει, καὶ σπαράσσει αὐτὸν μετὰ ἀφροῦ καὶ μόγις ἀποχωρεῖ ἀπ∍ αὐτοῦ συντρῖβον αὐτόν: 40καὶ ἐδεήθην τῶν μαθητῶν σου ἵνα ἐκβάλωσιν αὐτό, καὶ οὐκ ἠδυνήθησαν. 41ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν, ω γενεὰ ἄπιστος καὶ διεστραμμένη, ἕως πότε ἔσομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς καὶ ἀνέξομαι ὑμῶν; προσάγαγε ὧδε τὸν υἱόν σου. 42ἔτι δὲ προσερχομένου αὐτοῦ ἔρρηξεν αὐτὸν τὸ δαιμόνιον καὶ συνεσπάραξεν: ἐπετίμησεν δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἀκαθάρτῳ, καὶ ἰάσατο τὸν παῖδα καὶ ἀπέδωκεν αὐτὸν τῷ πατρὶ αὐτοῦ. 43ἐξεπλήσσοντο δὲ πάντες ἐπὶ τῇ μεγαλειότητι τοῦ θεοῦ. Πάντων δὲ θαυμαζόντων ἐπὶ πᾶσιν οἷς ἐποίει εἶπεν πρὸς τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ,

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;

The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition
© 1975, United Bible Societies, London

28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, [1] which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; [2] listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

[ 37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. 40 And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astonished at the majesty of God. But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus [3] said to his disciples,

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

(1) 9:31 Greek exodus

(2) 9:35 Some manuscripts my Beloved

(3) 9:43 Greek he

2. ANALYSIS: Luke 9:28-36 [37-43a]

Luke 9:28-9 - Jesus brings Peter, John and James to

mountain in order to pray [proseuchasthai, from

proseuchomai--to offer or pour out prayer].

Throughout Luke's gospel moments of revelation occur

while Jesus is at prayer. Jesus was praying at his baptism

when the heavens opened (3:21), on the mountain before

choosing the disciples (6:12), on the Mount of Olives "as was

his custom" before his crucifixion (22:39), as well as on the

mountain of transfiguration. In this moment of prayer

the important dynamic is the communication and openness

between heaven and earth that is established in Jesus'

dialogue with God. Nothing particular is requested or

sought by Jesus. In Luke's gospel occasions of prayer

signify rather the intimacy Jesus has with God.

Luke 9:32 - Luke contrasts the intensity of Jesus'

prayer with the sleep [bebaremenoi hypno, from

bareo--weighted down with sleep] of the disciples. Their

reaction might indicate that the transfiguration took

place at night; in any case it foreshadows the sleep of

the disciples during Jesus' final night of prayer in the

Garden of Gethsemane. When the disciples waken from

their lethargy, they see Jesus in glory (doxa), speaking to

Moses and Elijah. Luke emphasizes the fact that Jesus and

his disciples are having distinct appearances of the

transfiguration. He notes the confusion of Peter who

gropes for a concrete resolution to this spiritual event.

"Let us build three booths," says Peter, who does not see

that Jesus' glory is from within and visible only to the

eyes of faith.

Luke 9:31 - Moses and Elijah have been speaking to

Jesus about the "departure" [exodos] he would fulfill in

Jerusalem. Moses speaking of Jesus' "exodus" is a prism

revealing a number of theological reflections: Jesus as

deliverer, Passover Lamb, leader, and prophet. Because

Moses and Elijah experienced suffering and rejection

before being vindicated by God, they legitimately share

with Jesus this foreshadowing of glory. Luke has already

drawn references to Moses and Elijah in the feeding

miracle, their symbolization of the "Law and the Prophets"

now establishes a new relationship between the "old" and

the "new" in the teaching of Jesus. In Luke this

encounter between the old and the new, heaven and earth,

suffering and exaltation, is the moment of glory [doxa].

It is beheld first by the disciple who made the

confession: "You are the Christ" and began to "see"

through the eyes of faith.

3. STRATEGY: Luke 9:28-36 [37-43a]

The story of the transfiguration of Jesus

provides wonderful material for reflection on the theme of

Christian growth. One might revive the "nature versus

nurture" controversy to demonstrate two seemingly

opposed theories of faith development. Luke might at first

seem to support the view that faith is born of momentous

experiences, that Christians need to point to a time of

revelation, or conviction. On closer scrutiny, Luke

gives ample cues that this mountaintop experience of the

disciples is to be interpreted in the context of Jewish

history and hopes, in the ongoing teaching and testifying

of the disciples, and in the slow path of the cross. The

mountain is a vantage point from which roads coming and

going can be seen.

Another direction to take in preparing a sermon on

this text could be to examine the role of prayer in the

life of a Christian. Luke is careful to distinguish

different kinds of prayer, and believers would do well to

note that not all prayer involves a relationship of asking

and receivingl. Moments of prayer during Jesus' ministry

establish and nurture his intimacy with God, his

continuity with the history of the Jewish people, and

his identity as Savior.

Exegete – The Rev. Maria Erling, ThD, is Associate Professor of the History of Christianity in North America and Global Missions at Lutheran Theological Seminary, Gettysburg, PA.

4. REFERENCES: Luke 9:28-36 [37-43a]

For a concise discussion of the transfiguration in Luke, and indeed an excellent

brief overview of the entire gospel, see O.C. Edwards, Jr.

LUKE'S STORY OF JESUS. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986.

Edwards is Professor of Preaching at Seabury-Western

Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and a LEXEGETE™ contributor.

5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS: Luke 9:28-36 [37-43a]

Two texts set to the Gregorian Chant "Adoro Te Devote"

are appropriate for this day: THEE WE ADORE O HIDDEN


698, LBW 441).

A hymn focusesd on the theme of prayer is LORD, TEACH US HOW TO PRAY ARIGHT (LBW 438).

On the Transfiguration itself, HOW GOOD, LORD, TO BE HERE (LBW 89)

is suitable, especially the third stanza which sums up this day as follows:

" Fulfiller of the past and hope of things to be,

we hail your body glorified and our redemption see."

Others which apply to this occasion include:








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