2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
7 Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
None But Jesus
We have journeyed to the halfway point of Jesus’ ministry – the Transfiguration. Before this, we saw Jesus performing an abundance of miracles, and hiding his true intentions from the public. But after the Transfiguration, we will see fewer miracles, and he talks very openly about his upcoming death and resurrection. It’s such a radical shift that it’s almost as if Jesus changed his mind about where he was headed. But as we had made clear early on in these devotionals, this focus on the cross was actually present even from the very beginning of his ministry, that he shunned popularity and the earthly and political expectations of those around him, focused instead on God’s larger plan for salvation. So again, it is very important to read Scripture in light of larger contexts, not only in light of what a small sliver of the text seems to indicate.
But for me, the highlight of this text is that moment when Jesus is surrounded by Eljiah and Moses. For Israel and the disciples, Elijah and Moses represented two of the most important leaders/prophets of Israel’s history. They were powerful men of God who had led Israel out of bondage from Egypt and Ahab. They had worked incredible miracles like parting the Red Sea and the Jordan, causing it to stop and begin raining through prayer, even raising a young boy from the dead! And so the Israelites, and the disciples, looked up to these men – they found their sense of security and identity in Elijah and Moses. In the case of Elijah, they had even looked forward to him returning again to earth!
And yet, when the disicples look again at the hill upon which Jesus, Moses and Elijah stood, seemingly as equals…they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. Their security, identity and hope were not found in Elijah and Moses, but in Jesus alone, and no one else.
We have our own Elijah’s and Moses’ – things or people that we find our sense of security or identity in, or place our hope in: Our Education. Our Wealth. Our Ethnicity. Our Family. Our Spouse. These are not bad things in themselves, just as Elijah and Moses were not bad men. But as with the disciples and the people of Israel, our hope is not found in Moses, or our material wealth. Our security and identity are not bound up with Elijah, or what school we graduated from. When we look at the mountain of our own lives, only one thing stands there who can give you peace and hope and eternal security: Christ alone. No one else.
1. For most of us, Jesus is an important part of our identity and self-worth, but only part of it. In what else besides Christ do you find your sense of identity, security, or hope?
2. In reference to the above question, have other elements in which you find your worth ever failed you? A relationship? A school? A job? A friend?
3. In what ways does Christ provide with an enduring identity? In what ways does he provide us with eternal security?
4. As stated above, these other elements are not bad in themselves, but only when we place our hope and trust in them over Christ. How can you balance that other element of your life from question 1, without it competing with the Lordship of Christ in your life?