This is the Beloved

This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. Listen to him.” [Mt 17: 5]

We are all familiar with this passage of scripture. Present at this amazing event were Peter, James, and his brother John. The witnessed the meeting of Jesus with Moses and Elijah. They heard the words.

 They saw and heard.

Yet, as we find out later, after Jesus is seized in the Garden at Gethsemane, most, if not all of them fled. They were not where to be seen at the crucifixion. They were not particularly persuaded by the reports of the women and Mary Magdalene of the resurrection.

One has to wonder why. What more did they need to turn a belief into actual knowing?

They lived in a time when the mysterious, the mystical was thought as real as well, reality. Yet, all the Gospels tend to portray the disciples as fumbling, and confused. If we accept the Gospels, then this was far from the first inexplicable event they had witnessed. Healings, walking on water, multiplication of food, all these things Jesus had done before their eyes.

Yet here, they hear the very voice of God, they see the ancestors whom they have heard about from infancy. They see the evidence, yet, all too soon they return to doubt, doubt of their Master and what he proclaims.

We live in times where mystical experiences are pooh-poohed by the average person. We are trained to expect “tricks” to our seeing and hearing. The mind plays tricks on us we are told. It sees what I wishes rather than what is real sometimes.

We, children of the technological age are trained from infancy to determine causes. Nothing happens without a solid, identifiable reason we are told, even if sometimes we don’t have the capability to discern that cause.

We, we are told, will discover everything, given enough time. If something seems a miracle, well, trust that it just isn’t. If you have a vision, or a near-death experience, trust that you haven’t. It’s only wishful dreaming.

But faith requires that we do just as the modern world suggests we shouldn’t. We believe what we do not expect to prove in any tangible way. We believe because we simply “know” in ways far less dramatic than that experienced by Peter, James and John.

There is comfort here, for us. For after all, if they failed to accept that which was palpable to their actual senses, perhaps we can forgive ourselves for our doubts from time to time.  We can cling in security to the promise that God’s love embraces our doubts, soothes them, and forgives them.

We cry out, “I believe, help my unbelief!” knowing that God hears and responds. For he did so for the befuddled disciples. He led them to great things, and so can and will do for us.

Amen.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Thomas Bryner
    Mar 20, 2011 @ 11:14:52

    “Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me. ” ~John Lennon

    Reply

  2. Tim
    Mar 21, 2011 @ 15:48:06

    I’m convinced Peter’s the key figure at the Transfiguration, Sherry, and as we track the odyssey from there to Calvary and on to the Tomb (as you do above), we’re wise to watch him closely. Because he does continually muck things up. (Talk about your flip-flops!)

    In fact, I believe the Transfiguration occurs in direct response to Peter’s wobbling. Just prior to it, he declares Jesus is the Christ one minute and then, when Jesus warns He’ll be arrested and crucified, Peter says, “Never! Not You!” Jesus rebukes him and calls him a stumbling block. From rock to stumbling block in a single chapter–not so good. Then, even after Peter sees Jesus transfigured with Moses and Elijah, what does he do? He suggests building shrines–creating tangible proof of an ineffable experience.

    Our boy has a hard time getting his head around what he’s been called to do. So it shouldn’t surprise us to have the same struggles. It should, however, shame us if we don’t learn from his mistakes!

    You’re spot-on here, and your reminder is most gratefully received!

    Blessings always,
    Tim

    Reply

    • Sherry
      Mar 22, 2011 @ 12:20:59

      I become more and more convinced that Peter was not perhaps so empty headed as he is portrayed but rather the writer wishes us to think deeply about our own failings to either grasp or employ the message Jesus gifted us with. Surely Jesus could have found brighter people. I suspect Peter is merely being used as foil. And query? How did Peter know it was Moses and Elijah? No pictures were around of them for sure…lol..

      Reply

      • Tim
        Mar 22, 2011 @ 21:42:36

        How right you are! Rereading my comment, I realize I failed to give Peter his due, intellectually and spiritually. His responses mark a man who may think too much about things, because when he falters, he’s typically running scenarios his head and needs to get back to his faith. That’s how I read the water-walking adventure, as well as the denial episode.

        In the latter, I sense tremendous conflict behind his behavior. On one hand, he wants to stick as closely as possible to Jesus. On the other, he realizes if he’s identified Him Jesus, he’ll likely be arrested also. If that were to happen, the disciples would be left without any leader at all. Denying his relationship to Jesus actually puts where he’s needed most, and I’m sure he hates being in that position. But he has little choice, it seems.

        He’s not a simple man or simpleton. If he were either, we would have to question why Jesus entrusts Peter with His followers and ministry after He departs.

        I’m so grateful you caught me by the collar here, Sherry. In my haste I misrepresented Peter, as well as my admiration for him.

        Blessings,
        Tim

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