Transfiguration = Matthew 17:1-9

Bible Background: The Epiphany season concludes with this wonderfully revealing and mysterious scene of Jesus on the mountaintop, with his 3 closest disciples; his face and clothes shining like the sun! This comes just after he has told his disciples that he will suffer and die, something they do not want to hear.

Going Deeper: 1. Jesus speaks of “taking up the cross,” not of enduring some hardship that life has saddled you with. Sometimes we point to someone who has “a hard cross to bear in life”. Jesus is referring to a cross we choose to bear. How is that different from one that we’re just stuck with?

2. “Those who lose their life for my sake will find it” sets a high bar! What do you hear Jesus saying? Is this about “losing ourselves” (i.e. giving up self-centeredness, selfish ambitions) for a cause larger than ourselves? That seems to be what the apostles did after Jesus put them in charge! And they did so knowing the risks and the costs of discipleship.

3. The Transfiguration of Jesus is an amazing story! Who do you think needed that mountaintop experience more: Jesus? or the disciples? or both equally? What message from that story is also for us? Think of what the heavenly voice says: “this is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him!”

4. The disciples are filled with fear. Jesus tells them “Get up and do not be afraid!” In what situations in life do you need to hear those words? How do they help you keep going? Who do you know that needs to hear those words spoken gently and often? Pray for them today!

5. It’s very mysterious that Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus (Moses died around 1200 BC, Elijah’s time on earth was around 750 BC). They have important symbolic meaning here: Moses represents God’s Law, given to guide people. Elijah represents the prophets, and people believed Elijah would return to usher in the Messiah! Their presence suggests something more about Jesus!

6. This section is the turning point in Matthew. From here on, the gospel writer shows Jesus moving steadily on towards Jerusalem, where he will give his life on the cross. It’s not all gloom and doom. But it sure isn’t easy! Jesus still has much to do and much to teach before his death. Who do you know, who has been confronted with their own mortality, who has lived with new focus and commitment? What can we learn from someone like that?