November 28, 2014

A Transfiguration Thought Experiment

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This morning the pastor asked us to do a “thought experiment” with regard to the story of the Transfiguration. I thought I’d include you and give you a chance to discuss it.

The text from Luke reads:

“While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.” (Luke 9:34-36, NRSV)

Here are the questions:

  • What if the voice from the cloud had said, “This is my Chosen One, listen to him!” and the disciples had opened their eyes and seen Moses alone?
  • What if the voice from the cloud had said, “This is my Chosen One, listen to him!” and the disciples had opened their eyes and seen Elijah alone?

What would that communicate, and how would that matter, and how would that differ from them seeing Jesus alone?

If it were our calling to listen to Moses or Elijah and look to one of them alone, what would that entail? What would our faith and the practice of our religion look like today?

Comments

  1. Wow. That is really powerful. I think if the disciples opened their eyes and saw Moses, I would totally not be a Christian!

  2. It would look a lot like it does now.

    Looking to justify ourselves by what ‘we do’, or ‘don’t do’.

    Only Jesus was left there…but it might as well have been Moses for all that we rely on Jesus and Him alone for our salvation.

  3. The Transfiguration showed Jesus to be God…and Peter (at the Transfiguration) showed us what is in us…a desire to live in fantasy land.

  4. “If it were our calling to listen to Moses or Elijah and look to one of them alone, what…would our faith and the practice of our religion look like today?”

    I was about to write, “Since it would be a religion and faith based upon imperfect humans rather than the perfect Son of God, it would be a mixed up mess.” But Christianity seems like quite the mixed up mess at times even with the perfect Son of God as its cornerstone, so I’m not sure what to say.

  5. Hmmm. Moses was the giver of the Law, vital to people who have been enslaved in learning how to be a people. Elijah was a prophet, one whose relationship/understanding of God compelled him to bring words of warning to people. Instead, they saw Jesus who fulfilled the Law & in doing so, His life served as a signpost for others in how to live God’s covenant.
    After reading some of the posts here, many seem to be frustrated that the Church lives as though it WAS Moses or Elijah that was unveiled, not Jesus.

  6. Isaac (or possibly Obed) says:

    Wow… there’s some cynical comments! But, hey, that’s cool :)

    If I was one of the disciples, living in post-exilic-under-Rome’s-boot Israel, and I’d just seen Moses, I’d probably have thought one of two things: 1) I’d think that I was supposed to start preaching a back-to-basics, look-to-the-Torah-for-our guidelines sort of faith, kinda like the Reformers believed they were doing with the Gospel. I’d want to get rid of all the extra stuff that the Pharisees, et al, added to the Torah. 2) As those who “sit in Moses’ seat,” I might take the other extreme and thing that God wanted me to be come a “Pharisee of pharisees” who’s life was a model of personal holiness as a way of living witness to God’s covenant and God’s greatness.

    If I had seen just Elijah, I’d definitely think of a reform movement and a call to kick out the various idols that were in Israel at the time. In fact, it might not look that different from what I said with Moses lol.

  7. Maybe I’m misreading the question, but in both cases, I’d have said “Hey, where’d Jesus go?!”

  8. The transfiguration communicated many things, that Jesus was both man and God, for only God appears in a cloud. Moses represented The Law, and Elijah The Prophets which represented the Old Covenant with the Israelites. Jesus was then, showing forth that his is greater than both the Law and the Prophets.

    To postulate an event with only Moses or only Elijah receiving God’s blessing would have delivered a message bereft of salvation, and affirming either solely the Law or the Prophets.

    What would the Law be without The Prophets? What would the Prophets be without The Law?

    Such a world would be imperfect, unbalanced, and, yet, the Holy Spirit would restore balance and order, because God has not abandoned his people.