Sunday Next Before Lent 10.2.13 Luke 9.28-36 (37-43a)

3 02 2013

A Great Confluence

The story is that of the transfiguration.  This is the high water mark of Luke’s gospel – everything is drawn together to reveal the truth and glory of Jesus.

Luke 9.28-43a

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29And while he

The upper part of The Transfiguration (1520) b...

The upper part of The Transfiguration (1520) by Raphael, depicting Christ miraculously discoursing with Moses and Elijah. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. 34While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ 36When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

[37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38Just then a man from the crowd shouted, ‘Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 39Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It throws him into convulsions until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. 40I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.’ 41Jesus answered, ‘You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.’ 42While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43And all were astounded at the greatness of God.]

The verses in square brackets are identified as optional in the lectionary.


To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

‘Head Questions’

  1. Notice that Luke does not use the word ‘transfiguration’ to describe what happened.  Sometimes long words help, sometimes they don’t.  Can you explain ‘transfiguration’ in words of one syllable?
  2. What do Moses and Elijah represent here?
  3. ‘I begged your disciples to cast it out but they could not’. v.40  As disciples of Jesus today, how do we live with the repeated failures of the first disciples?

‘Heart Questions’

  1. Profound and visible things happened to Jesus when he prayed. Is the implication that without prayer nothing transformational or glorious happens? Can you spot the difference in a person or community that prays?
  2. Peter and his companions were exhausted.  What does exhaustion – or even tiredness – feel like?  To what extent are you and the people you live among tired? How can you acknowledge this and minister to it?
  3. In v 34 the disciples are ‘terrified’. In verse 43 they are astounded. Such strong and difficult emotions seem to be part and parcel of the discipleship journey. Are you prepared to provoke and live with strong emotions as you lead your church forwards ?

‘Hand Questions’

  1. We often make the point that Peter’s response was inappropriate.  It was silly to think that the glory revealed could be enshrined. But maybe we miss the point that the great thing about Peter was that did actually respond. He really wanted to do something. How good is the church at working with people’s motivation to do things? What does such motivation demand of those in leadership roles?
  2. The voice from heaven says ‘This is my son, listen to him’. Who are you listening to?
  3. In v.42 Jesus rebukes the unclean spirit. Do you need to give – or receive – rebuke?


These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you.  That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands.  Take your time.