Posted by: mikebackup | February 19, 2010

A new perspective

Luke 9.28-36 (NIV)

28About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30Two men, Moses and Elijah, 31appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)
34While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” 36When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.

The transfiguration is a profound moment for Peter, John and James. For everything that they had seen Jesus do, this is the moment they truly have a new perspective on him. God’s kingdom bursts into the world and the divinity of Jesus is seen right in front of them. For them nothing would be same again. In contrast with Mark and Matthew the encounter ends with the reader being told that they kept it to themselves only for a while. Verses 30-33, while giving us the details of the transfiguration leaves us wondering about what has been left out. In what way is Jesus’ face changed? How do we know that it was Moses and Elijah? The disciples would not have know what they looked like when they were alive, let alone in the glory of God!

If they found out it was them by listening to the conversation, we can only guess at the details of that exchange. Would Jesus have addressed them by name? Does it mock this exchange if we guess the conversation started with Jesus effectively saying ‘Hi Elijah, Moses, how’s it going’? Or does it say something of the closeness and friendship God offers everyone?

When the cloud clears and the disciples are left alone with Jesus, they have the same man they went up the mountain with. The difference now is they have a new understanding of Jesus. They had a foretaste of resurrection glory, by seeing Jesus as truly divine. Perhaps they were told not to say anything because how would anyone understand, let alone believe what they had seen. It would need the events of Easter to unfold before this event could be brought out into the open and be allowed to speak.

Seeing the world in a new way of seeing your own life differently is at the heart of faith. On the surface, the world looks and acts the same after we take that step of trusting God. After that step though we have a way of seeing life differently, of seeing life through the eyes of Jesus. The big problem is how do we explain that life transforming perspective to those that cannot see Jesus for who he is? The analogy of the magic eye pictures is very good to illustrate this. For those that can see the picture beyond the surface it is very difficult to explain exactly how they do it. For those that can’t see, it can be very frustrating and some end up believing it is all a hoax. How do we explain the world through the eyes of Jesus, when for the vast majority of people it is not something you can just pick up. It is a catch 22, faith enables you to see life differently, but you can only see life differently if you have faith.

The answer is in genuine, patient and creative perseverance with those that just don’t get it. Everyone is unique and so their route to faith is different. I came to faith through reflecting on all sorts of relationships, difficult times, creation, the joys of life, bereavements and did that over many years. My own testimony tells me seeing life differently is a long journey of highs and lows, rooted in the very experiences of my life.

We must not shy away from telling people about our faith, but we have to tailor what we say to the person we are talking to and where they are in that very moment and in their life as a whole. It might mean talking about a wonderful detail you saw in creation or a piece of music you heard, commenting on a news story, or just being there to listen to someone. Giving someone a Bible and asking them to say a prayer with you might help someone but don’t expect it to make them instant Christians. That thought links us into mission.

Mission for many Christians has been something they have felt very apprehensive about. For many it conjures up door to door evangelism and a real fear of talking directly about faith, Jesus and the Bible. I hope no-one at Boulton Lane is now apprehensive about mission. Mission is about telling people about our faith be it explicitly, implicitly, or by what we do. It is genuine to the people and situation we find ourselves. Little by little we can encourage people see the world differently, to see it through the eyes of Jesus. This means every moment of everyday we can be mission focused. That doesn’t mean we constantly think to ourselves ‘how do I get God into this conversation?’ it means trying to see the world constantly through the eyes of Jesus and let the rest come naturally. The magic eye pictures to most people that can see them start off looking the same as those that can’t see them. You have to concentrate for a moment and then it is crystal clear. In our life, it’s easy not to concentrate on God, to carry on seeing the world the way everyone without faith does. We must concentrate and see life through our faith. It means we are then able to respond in the way God wants us to as we can see what he sees.

Loving God,
whose Son Jesus Christ, transfigured and transfiguring,
shows us the true nature of love,
we praise you for all the glimpses of your radiance
with which you bless us:
in stillness,
in suddenness,
in chaos,
in creation,
in one another.
May the strength of your gentleness sink deep within us,
the freshness of your agelessness, inspire us
and the wonder of your approving Spirit
equip us to transform,
and to be transformed
that our lives may reflect the love we would proclaim, share and die for.

(prayer from

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