The Transfiguration: Sufjan Stevens and the Miracle

A while back I was asked to speak in a series on the amazing events of Jesus’s life, particularly the Transfiguration.  Since that talk, this song has really impacted me, and helped me feel the wonder of that moment.  It is five minutes, to make sure you have a moment, or come back to view later.  Here is the video, and below is my talk outline.  Enjoy:

God’s Glory: Jesus’ Transfiguration

by Daniel Griswold

Introduction: Cultural Points

*Spell of Transfiguration

In Harry Potter, it is a spell from which one thing is turned into something else bound by certain rules such as the rule that food cannot be made out of thin air.

*trans·fig·u·ra·tion 

n. A marked change in form or appearance; a metamorphosis.

-A change that glorifies or exalts.

-Bible The sudden emanation of radiance from the person of Jesus that occurred on a mountain.

-The Christian feast commemorating this event, observed on August 6 in the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, on August 19 in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and on the Sunday before Lent in most Protestant churches.

*From the Greek:

(metemorfw¿qh), meta, denoting change or transfer

*Kafka’s Metamorphosis

A book about a man who is radically transformed into a millipede and who is quickly hidden by his family in a small dark room due to the shame and fear of such a large insect in their home.

Basically, a Transfiguration is a drastic change from one state to another.

Why would something need to transform?

1) Protection (Insects change their shape to hide from enemies)

2) New Function (Software must transform in order to perform new tasks for industry, ex: DOS/Windows)

3) By mere accident (suddenly going bald – like myself)

4) To Reveal Something Unknown (Revealing one’s face from a cloak)

Scripture to Read:  Mark 9:1-9, Matthew 17:1-9, Luke 9:28-36

From the Disciples Perspectives:

1) They went to pray on a mountain

(Moses: Exodus 12-13) (Elijah: 1 Kings 10:11)

2) Jesus transforms during prayer into a glowing white figure

denotes the promise of the return of Christ (Revelation 1:12-20)

3) Jesus is talking to two guys: Moses and Elijah, about Jesus’ coming death

4) They offer to build three tabernacles

(They were ready as warriors to usher in God’s kingdom right there)

5) A cloud overshadowed them and they entered it

(God’s Glory Cloud: Exodus 15-18)

6)  God’s voice comes from the cloud stating Jesus’ position as God’s Son and gives him authority.

Application:

Prayer – Beginnings of communication with God

Observation – Seeing What God is Doing

Respects – Offering what you can do to God

Response – Entering God’s Glory and Obeying what God tells us

 

What does Jesus’ Transformation do?

For the three Disciples – Gave them a glimpse into the future, where Christ is glorified and is the head of the eternal church, in beauty and in strength.  Though they wished the kingdom to come any moment, the whispers of a coming departure/exodus signaled that there was more work to be done, and it would be a great time of struggle.  The reality became the disciples becoming Apostles spreading the word of the Risen Christ after his death, and the message of hope and salvation was spread even to the point of martyrdom.

For Us – As we seek out God and observe this world, we see that things are not always the way we wish them to be, but it is from the Transfiguration, the moment of Hope and Beauty, that we can see a glimpse of what things will be like one day when we will live in the true City of God.  Until that day, we must respect God by offering our hands and hearts to His good work in this world that seems to have so much good, but yet so much wrong overwhelming it.   By obeying God, we can be in tune with His will and ensure that our lives are not part of a miniscule individual plan, but rather a Greater and Divinely conceived plan that encompasses all time beginning in the moments before Creation, up through the History of Israel from Abraham to the time of the Kings, to the Fall of Israel’s worldly kingdom, the eventual rise of Rome, the birth of Christ, and our current era which is marked by the work of the body of Christ.  Have previous generations stepped up?  Yes, some have.  But can we do better and give everything to our God?  Absolutely, Yes!

Song for Thought and Reapplication of Scripture:

Sufjan Stevens – Transfiguration from the Album “Swan Song”

 

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