Turn your eyes upon Jesus…look full in his wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim…in the light of his glory and grace.
Transfiguration…the definition is simply the complete transformation of something…in a way that makes it beautiful. Fiona was transfigured…made truly beautiful… by love. And it wasn’t by becoming something she wasn’t….it was by becoming who she truly was meant to be. On the mountain… Peter and James and John see Jesus transfigured…shining like the sun…connected to Elijah and Moses…a fulfillment of all that the prophets and the law hoped for. In a moment, Jesus is revealed as who he truly is…with a voice from heaven – the beloved Son of God. And then, when vision passes…when the lights dim and the voice quiets….he is still there. Jesus alone – the fulfillment of all their hopes. And he is truly beautiful. And God says “listen to him.”
And what does Jesus say? Get up…and do not be afraid. Get up. And do NOT be afraid.
This morning…we are invited to turn our eyes upon Jesus. To turn off all the other voices and faces that would demand our attention…and look at Jesus…the beloved Son of God. We are invited to stop …and look into his face…to focus on Jesus alone…who enters the world not to wreak vengeance…but to open his arms and heart to those who we have been taught to fear. Jesus….who walks into a world where people are filled with hate…where leaders do not know what truth is…where people from different religions are objects of suspicion…and chooses to live without fear. Jesus…who is God’s heart and soul and mind and strength incarnate in flesh and blood in this world. Jesus…who looks at this messy, heartbreaking world that seems so ugly at times – and sees beauty. In me. And you. And all the other messy, heartbreaking people around us.
This morning…we are invited to turn our eyes upon Jesus. To look in his face, and see the love that he has for us…for us all. His love was for Peter and James and John. But it was also for the Samaritans and the Roman Soldiers..and even for Pilate and for the zealous religious authorities. And this morning, it is for us. For the children in our midst. For those who aren’t here today for good reasons or bad. For you. Turn your eyes upon Jesus…and see the love that has no limits. That is the fulfillment of every hope we have. Turn your eyes upon Jesus…and know that whatever comes…whatever the future brings….Jesus is there. And he has you…and holds you…and will not let go.
After this beautiful, transfiguring experience, Peter and James and John know that Jesus is planning to head down that mountain and go to Jerusalem. He told them that before they went up the mountain. And they also knew very well what that meant. Because, in Jerusalem, the religious leaders have made no secret about their plans to arrest Jesus and have him executed. Jerusalem is enemy territory. Jerusalem is not safe.
The disciples do not want to go there. They do not want Jesus to go. I’m sure in their heart of hearts they think Jesus is just naïve…a lamb going to the slaughter….and they want to protect him. But their job isn’t to protect Jesus. It is simply to follow him. To turn their eyes upon him…and trust him, not the voices that whisper threats or shout violence. But to trust Jesus….to trust the beauty of Jesus when he says…”get up and do not be afraid.”
This morning, in a world that is not safe…we are invited to turn our eyes upon Jesus. And to see his beauty in this broken world….to trust him…and to NOT BE AFRAID. Fear is the thing that undoes us over and over again. Fear of change. Fear of the future. Fear of our neighbors. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of death. Fear of losing. But “perfect love casts out fear”. That is what the Bible says, people. And the perfect love of Jesus…looking at you…seeing you…beautiful you.. .means you have nothing to fear. You can face Jerusalem…or whatever your tomorrow holds…because Jesus is with you. And Jesus is Lord of all creation…of yesterday and today and tomorrow…of life and death and eternity. Turn your eyes upon Jesus….beautiful Jesus. And listen to him…like God told us to. Get up. And do not be afraid. Amen.