This passage from the Gospel of Luke is outstanding in a couple of ways. Firstly, this beyond human convention transformation of Jesus Christ is something that we do not learn about at any other point in the gospel of Luke. It is true that we can find the account of this transformation in other gospels, but the event is significant enough in that it only happens once. This is where the disciples and the listening audience realizes the connection Jesus has with God. While only Peter, James and John see this event on the mountain, it is more than likely those three told the rest of the disciples about what they saw and what happened (the physical change in Jesus, the appearance of Moses and Elijah, and the voice of God).
The second outstanding part to this passage had to do with what follows the mountaintop experience, as Jesus continued his ministry. It is certainly possible that as overwhelming a scene on the mountaintop as it was for the disciples who were present, it could have been an overwhelming situation for Jesus to process. To experience the physical transformation, and then witness the reappearance of two people long ago died, and then to hear the words of God, that might have been much for anyone. And yet, Jesus wakes up the next day and continues to minister. He goes out into the community and encountered a crowd of people. While we do not know all of the reasons why the crowd was present, we can presume that they probably had reasons to find and meet Jesus. Whether it had to do with any sort of health concerns, or to hear the prophetic words Jesus might offer, or just to be in the presence of this amazing individual, the people were all there ready to try and get all of their needs met.
As Jesus was beginning to address the crowd and continue his ministry, a man stepped for pleading for the health and safety of his son. There was a spirit in side of the man’s son, who was violent and was causing the boy to hurt himself. This was a scene that would likely terrify any parent, to see their child out of control and being hurt. And Jesus stepped forward and exorcize that demon right out of the boy. This act amazed all of the people who were present.
This entire passage leaves people in awe. The disciples were amazed at what occurred with Jesus on the mountain, and the crowd at the end of the exorcism was certainly very impressed. They saw the outstanding work of God in Jesus, and led them to believe.
We who are living today would have no firsthand knowledge about Jesus and his capabilities. We can see the written accounts of what Jesus accomplished during his life and ministry. We are likely to believe that Jesus was outstanding with his powers and skills as a prophetic minister. We may come to expect these things from Jesus. But what about the people in today’s world. Do we see anyone performing the same sorts of acts as Jesus?
I wonder if we see any outstanding people in our daily lives. Are there people in our lives who need to have great big signs next to them which say this person is amazing, awesome, tremendous, stupendous at all times? Perhaps, perhaps not. When I think about someone who is just that awesome and great, I think of superheroes (superman, captain America). Anyone else for superheroes? But they are not necessarily real, we have experienced many of these superheroes in books, tv, and movies. But besides in those mediums, I do not believe we see superheroes on our way to work or driving around the mall. And if there were superheroes out in the world what would our reaction be. Consider if you will, we are walking around down town and we observe someone dressed in a blue and gold stretch outfit with a cape. What is our reaction going to be?
Are we going to race over to the individual and rave about how wonderful they are. Possibly not. In this day and age, I am not sure that a cape and brightly covered outfit on any person is going to cause us to think that person is outstanding. In truth, we might think them odd or stranger, or worse.
So the costumes won’t help. So does this mean that there are no awesome people in the world. I believe that there is, more than we realize. But it will not necessarily be their outfits which tell us who is tremendous and who is not. I think one way we can observe who is amazing among us is by his or her actions and words. When we see or observe someone offering poignant and meaningful statements we may gain a new found respect for that individual, or we may think highly of them. Amazing and prodigious behavior can also set someone apart.
We expect amazing and awesomeness from Jesus, possibly because we have heard accounts from the Gospels. But did the overall community of the time of Jesus expect anything from him. He was far from tremendous. He was just one of the people in the community, an average person. Consider his biological family of origin. His earthly father Joseph, was a carpenter, by traditional interpretation, or more likely a mason. And while that was a skill, it did not [place Joseph or anyone from his family very high in the view of society.] It is hard to exactly say where Jesus and his family would have been placed, but scholars seem to point out that it would have been somewhere in the lower part of middle class, or very possibly in the section of lower class. And as society was framed by religion, the higher class people would have been chief priests and Pharisees. Nobody would have expected or anticipated much from someone at the same social economic strata as Jesus to offer religious wisdom, teaching, or healing. And yet this is precisely is what happened.
High class Pharisees and chief priests
Middle class merchants and artisans skilled
Lower class unskilled laborers and farmers (shepherds 2nd lowest class)
There was not much expectation for Jesus as to what he might be or do much due to his lowly position in society. The same was true for the disciples. A number of them were fishermen, and most fisherman were found to be very low in the pecking order of society in that time. And yet consider the disciples in time accomplished.
So the people of Israel in the 1st century likely thought little of Jesus and what he could accomplish. And yet he was astounding. And there are people in this world today that may not seem be much, or offer much, and yet their acts can be considered astounding. (following information on names came from Wikipedia)
- Using the pseudonym Gul Makai, Malala was only 11 when she started blogging about what life was like under the Taliban for the BBC.
- On October 9, 2012 Malala boarded a bus to advocate for Pakistani girls’ education when the Taliban shot her in the head and neck. She was 15. She was not expected to survive her injuries.
- It was almost two years to the day when Malala was shot that she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She was 17 and the youngest recipient to receive it. She shared the distinguished award with Kailash Satyarthi, another children’s rights activist.
- Because of the violent assassination attempt on Malala, Pakistan announced the creation of the very first Right to Education Bill.
- To date, Malala has received over 40 awards and honors for her bravery and activism,
Nejib Belhedi (Tunisia) 74.5 miles (120 km) from Sfax to Djerba across the Gulf of Gabes and Gulf of Boughrara in Tunisia in 2018 in 76 hours 30 minutes
While some of these people might look like swimmers, I have tell that anyone who would see Nejib would never even consider him a swimmer, much less capable of swimming the distance he did . there is no other way to put it, he is astounding in what he did.
Two girls (aged 14 and 8) walked 1500 miles in 1931 to return home. There is more to the story, and it is told in a book as well as a movie. But the bottom line is molly and daisy are two astounding girls
Actor Eddie Izzard has been around for a while. He has acted in some movies. But that did not make him amazing. What made him astounding was when he completed marathons. He actually ran 27 marathons in 27 days and he and his supporters helped him raise more than £1m for Sport Relief. The comedian and actor did this amazing feat as a tribute to the 27 years Nelson Mandela spent in prison before becoming the first black president of South Africa.
Emily Bennett, Woman from Hastings, astounding achievement in 2017.
With these seemingly average people accomplishing so many things in their lives, for themselves and for others, we would do well to keep their successes in mind. We need to remember that some of us may be viewed as average people, but we can truly accomplish a great deal
It is transfiguration Sunday a reminder of what happened to Jesus, A reminder of how amazing Jesus was in his ministry and I also think a call for us to be astounding in our own ways, in our own relationships, community and our lives.
Thanks be to God and may the people of God say together amen.