Matthew 17:1-9 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Dramatic images and pictures have a way of being imprinted in our minds and stay with us for a lifetime–images of newborn babies, beautiful animals, and the grand creations from God’s paint brush. When we visit famous places we encounter majestic mountains, far reaching oceans, cascading waterfalls, and full flowing rivers. We take snapshots of glowing sunsets, glittering nights skies, and crisp morning flora and fauna. We also remember and record dramatic events like new births, baptisms, graduations, weddings, anniversaries and reunions. We have this huge roll of film to capture all these images.
However on the flipside, we also remember painful, tragic, and traumatic moments as well. We take mental photos of the dying days of a loved one, national tragedies like what happened on September 11th, and faces twisted in sorrow and sadness. Sadly, we expose ourselves to images created on the movie screens – acts of violence, raw sexuality, and other horrifying and scarring pictures. Our mental galleries are filled with all these frames and slides that hang there and are often revisited intentionally or unintentionally. It’s hard to delete or erase those images from our mental microfiche.
In Matthew 17, the transfiguration leaves a great imprint of Jesus in the minds of the Peter, James, and his brother John. They captured a glimpse of the Lord as his face shone like the sun, his clothes dazzling white, along with Moses and Elijah. Then a bright cloud overshadowed them and a booming voice emanates from the cloud. What they saw that day became emblazoned on the tablets of their hearts, fixed within their mind’s eye, and recorded there forever. It must have been a picture perfect moment of inspiration and revelation.
With all the technology available to us today; cell phones, digital cameras, and computers, we can store images and photos in a picture diary; illustrations that point us to God and God’s beautiful creation. We can retrieve those images to remind us that God is ever present in our lives, that God is merciful, graceful, and faithful, and then to be thankful for all the days that we are given. We can preserve the memories and record all the wonderful and powerful experiences that we have collected over the years and be thankful.
Almighty God, you have blessed us with the gift of sight that helps us to experience color, texture, heights, depths, shapes and sizes, people and places, days of celebration, and days of completion. Forgive us for taking this wonderful miracle for granted, for not fully enjoying and appreciating the beauty, wonder, and grandeur of life. We also confess that we choose to put in front of our faces those things that are not pleasing and unedifying. Help us to look for those images and pictures that inspire life, that celebrate life, and that gives new life. Free us from the temptation and tyranny of evil images, release us from the chains of damaging memories, and shine your face upon us that we may draw upon your light and your goodness all the days of our lives. Let us behold the many facets of Christ Jesus and keep in our hearts a collage of his miraculous encounters. Amen.
—Pastor Bob L. Isip