Why Peter, James and John not needing sunglasses should matter to us
As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them…. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” — Mark 9:2b, 3, and 7
We have no horizon in Northeastern Pennsylvania. This is our landscape at the northern most point of the Appalachian Mountains: mountains and mountains and mountains. These beautiful, breathtaking, rolling giants are best seen when we’re actually on a mountaintop and have a 20- to 30-mile unobstructed view.
I mention this because my brother lives in Florida, flat Florida. If you stand in certain places—wow—you can see SO much sky. Majestic sky. Tall and wide and deep and everywhere sky. With amazing cloud formations.
There is a cloud mentioned in this familiar Transfiguration story, and the cloud is God. The cloud is necessary because it’s a protective shield from the human eyes of Peter, James, and John, the three disciples who have this miraculous mountaintop experience with Jesus. The cloud in this scripture is key. Like Peter, James and John, we humans aren’t supposed to, or cannot yet, see God.
Mountains and clouds. In sequence, the three climb the mountain with Jesus. The cloud comes after Jesus’ appearance is transformed and God’s Son’s clothes turn dazzling white—a white Peter, James and John more than likely had to squint at, or shield their eyes from.
What do we see from where we are? As we move into our relationship with our three-in-one God, this is a good question to have at first. Why? It locates us and it locates God.
It is significant is that Jesus is seen in blinding (or near blinding) light, and God comes through the cloud. Now it is true that sunglasses had not yet made the scene in Jesus’ time. What is interesting is that God, the Grand Organizer behind this event, shows the three exactly what—and how—this Transfiguration should not only go, but also be remembered.
I don’t know about you, but I need my sunglasses. Ask anyone around the office how many things I forget to take home with me (I should have my own lost and found section near the back door), but I leave with my shades. Or I want to leave with my shades because I will need them again soon.
Whether you are in mountainous Northeastern Pennsylvania, very flat Florida, or somewhere in between, what do you need to see? What do you need to take with you for you to see?
Lent begins so soon, and the questions just asked are the ones I invite you to carry into the season of discovery ahead. Jesus transfigures. God is the cloud overshadowing the disciples. What do you need to see, and how will you go about seeing it?
I mentioned my own lost and found. Maybe this Lent you can begin the upcoming 40 days by considering yourself lost only to be found.
PRAYER: Oh God, we’ve all been looking for our sunglasses at times. (Okay, me more than everyone else.) But this Lent, help us see the Son, your dearly loved Son, as You will have Him seen—with (or through) the lenses You’ll provide perfectly. Take us to the mountains, if only in our imaginations. Take us also to the places where we see horizons, otherwise known as the beginning of something new, which is Your love for us, and our love for You. Amen.