“[Jesus] was transformed in front of them, and his clothes were amazingly bright, brighter than if they had been bleached white.” Mark 9:2b-3 (CEB)
It was an ordinary day with Jesus – well, maybe no days with Jesus were ordinary, but the disciples certainly didn’t expect a transfiguration right in front of their very eyes. They probably thought that Jesus was taking them along for quiet time and prayer, and then this amazing vision of blinding light and the appearance of Elijah and Moses really caught their attention.
Peter didn’t know what to make of it, but he thought they should do something about it – so build three altars, commemorate this event, take come pictures to capture this extraordinary occurrence, write about it in your journal! To give him a little credit, he really didn’t know what to do, but he knew that there was something special about the moment, and maybe to handle his fear, he focused on something he did know how to do – set up a worship center and build an altar to show that this had happened in that time and place.
Yet, Jesus told the three disciples not to say anything as they went down the mountain. Throughout the gospel of Mark, we find repeated statements by Jesus to “tell no one.” The secrecy may seem odd to us, but when we think about it, we can perhaps understand how waiting to see the whole picture (which only happened after his death and resurrection) was best.
When something happens in our lives that has a transforming impact on us (for good or bad), it is often prudent to see if we can figure out what the meaning is by looking backward – hindsight. There may be things that happen to us that we don’t understand until years later. Yet, often those things change us and may help us to become better people, stronger, more capable of dealing with the challenges that life hands us.
I remember being thirteen when my maternal grandfather died. I didn’t understand it all, but I knew that it meant everyone was sad, including me. The statement that stuck with me over 40 years later was someone who said, “Johanna (my grandmother) was so strong. She never shed a tear.” As a pastor, I now know that it really wasn’t a good example for my grandmother to hold everything in and not cry in front of her seven children and twenty-three grandchildren. In that statement, I heard the message that it wasn’t all right to cry in public.
Now when people apologize for crying in front of me or anyone I’m with, I tell them that the tears are normal, and it’s all right. In fact, I have discovered that the tears are healing. That doesn’t mean that everyone will automatically do that. We all have to grieve in our own ways, but if we need to cry, then cry. My idea of shame at crying was transformed over the years from that one statement someone made about my grandmother.
Our lives are transformed by our relationships with God and each other. Perhaps being open to the things that happen around us and being aware of our internal reactions will help us to continue to learn about life and about what life in Christ is all about.
Questions for thought:
When has an experience transformed your life or your thinking about something?
How was God involved or what do you believe God helped you to understand through that experience?
What are the good things that came out of even the negative experiences?