“Transformed by Jesus”
the Rev. David C. Bocock
February 18, 2005
· 2 Corinthians 3:12 – 4:2
· Luke 9: 28-36
Pete had experienced a transformation in his life. Though some may not look at life and faith as he did, his faith burst into bloom as a result of his tumult. I cannot say that through his illness, he found redemption. But I can offer that in spite of his circumstances, he found God and it was God who transformed him.
And we summarized the sermon in that the one who is a Christian is the one whose very being and identity are shaped by Jesus. This morning, I want us to look at what happens as we are being transformed as Christians. This is the perfect Sunday to do that as we participate and celebrate The Transfiguration.
The Transfiguration of Jesus is an event reported by the synoptic gospels in which Jesus was transfigured upon a mountain (Matthew 17:1-6, Mark 9:1-8, Luke 9:28-36). The original Greek term in the Gospels for the Transfiguration is the word we use, more commonly known as metamorphosis.
The Gospels state that Jesus led three of his apostles - Peter, James, and John to pray at the top of a mountain. Once at the top, Jesus became transfigured, his face shining like the sun, and his clothes a brilliant white. They claim that Elijah and Moses suddenly appeared with Jesus and talked with him; Matthew and Mark do not say what the conversation was about, but Luke states that it was about Jesus' future death. Once they had spoken with each other, the Gospels state that a bright cloud overshadowed them (Luke also says they entered into the cloud), and a voice from the cloud proclaimed, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," paralleling a similar event during the Baptism of Jesus. However, this time the voice adds, "Hear him."
Traditionally, the event was considered to have literally happened, and it was believed that the event took place on
In the narrative, after the cloud dissipates, Elijah and Moses disappear, and Jesus and the three Apostles head down the mountain, Jesus telling his Apostles to keep the event a secret until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. The Apostles are described as questioning among themselves as to what Jesus meant by "risen from the dead" (Mark 9:9-10), remember, this was before it had happened. The Apostles are also described as questioning Jesus about Elijah, and Jesus responds ...Elijah comes first, and restores all things ... but ... Elijah has come indeed ... (Mark 9:12-13). It was commonly believed that Elijah would reappear before the coming of the Messiah, as predicted in the Book of Malachi (Malachi 4), and the three Apostles are described as interpreting Jesus' statement as a reference to John the Baptist.
When we think about transformation, we find ourselves in the midst of our Christian identity. We discover that transformation is both something that happens mystically as well as something that inspires us to diligently change ourselves through discernment, prayer, and action. In the case of Jesus being transformed on
In our Corinthian text, we discover what can happen when our lives are transformed by Jesus in the here and now. Pete’s life was radically changed and when he began to look inside of himself, he found that while he had little power to change his outside circumstances, he had abundant power to transform his spirit. The Apostle Paul says that whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away and we can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And more so, when that veil is removed, the Spirit can make us more and more like Jesus as we are changed into his glorious image. (2 Corinthians 3:16-18)
As a result of this transformation, we discover something more. That something more is what Scot McNight tells us in that we are made to be in union with God, with self, with others, and with the world. Our sin cracks our relationships in each of those four relationships so we are “cracked” in our relationship with God, self, others, and the world. The gospel is the work of God to restore us — to heal us through exposure and transformation — so we will become the image of God that happens when we turn and trust in God. “When that happens,” says McKnight, “we will be holistically healed and will become ‘agents of embracing grace’ with everything we encounter. We will become spiritual and transformed people who glow with God’s presence because we are rightly related to God, self, others, and the world.”
This is what happened to “Pete,” although his body was broken, he was a man who was transformed with a glow of God’s presence. All who knew him or was changed by his pastoral heart, all witnessed an earthly manifestation of an eternal reality. Pete was a changed man and everyone who met him was affected by it.
When you or I or anyone meets God, we change. This change is manifested in a new outlook, a new way of being, a behavior that is born out of grace, and one that sees things, people, and situations as if a veil was removed from one’s eyes and we see things as they really are. And, we see more. What we see, what beliefs we encounter, and how that affects us will be studied as we embark upon our Lenten season.
Beginning this week and lasting up until Easter, we will examine our faith, our beliefs, and how these have been interpreted throughout our Christian history. The purpose of this inspection is to help us better understand who and what we Christians study and believe about God. And, it is to help us understand how to be and live our lives more faithfully as men and women, and boys and girls, who have been transformed by Jesus.
In some ways, this study will be like a journey. A journey to explore who we are and who we can become. This journey begins this coming Wednesday for our Ash Wednesday services. And it will continue on the Sundays through Lent as well as the Wednesday nights in March. This Wednesday, we will have a brief service in the afternoon and the evening to receive our ashes. The symbolism of the ashes that are applied to our forehead echoes the ancient Near Eastern tradition of throwing ash over one's head signifying repentance before God. It is also a time of personal introspection as we look inwardly to discover and discern the ways in which we do not always reflect God’s image in our lives.
So I invite you on this journey. This journey will be adventurous, sometimes disconcerting, many times uplifting, and almost always revelatory. It will show us who we are and who we may become—as we explore the traditions of our past and the possibilities of our future as people who have been and people who are being transformed by Jesus.
Let us pray…