Intentionally or not, the disciples did the right thing
Matthew 17: His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. Sunlight poured from his face.
To some extent I don’t think the Church has ever fully grasped the Person of Jesus. It took hundreds of years for the doctrine of the Trinity to be established and it’s been “official” now for over 1600 years. Still, if you talk to some people they’re still back in the early years of Christian theology and not convinced at all that the Trinity doctrine has it right. When we think about the Person of Jesus there’s always a tug a war between “he’s God” and “he’s man.” In the pages of the Gospels we watch Jesus, the man. He grows weary and sleeps, he gets thirsty, and he bleeds. We also watch Jesus, the Lord. He forgives sins and tells his disciples that he and the Father are one. In this passage, as Jesus takes three disciples up on the mountain, the humanity of Jesus is overwhelmed by this divinity. The disciples see it as light that pours out of him. This isn’t the Jesus they ate supper with last light. This isn’t the Jesus who slept through the storm. This is God. Peter, James, and John don’t know what to say or do as they experience this Jesus. Still, maybe by instinct, they do the right thing: they fall flat on their faces in reverence and awe. Know what? This radiant-light-pouring-out-of-his-face Jesus is just as much Jesus as the hungry, sleepy, dying-on-the-cross Jesus. Falling down in worship before him is an excellent response.
Take Away: We may struggle with the person of Jesus, but worshiping him is always the right response.
Mathew 3: Jesus came up…God’s Spirit…descended…a voice… “This is my Son.”
For a brief moment in time John’s light shines brighter than all others. His rough appearance and demeanor only add to his mystique and people can’t get enough of him. John spends a lot of time talking about repentance but he also proclaims the coming of the Messiah. On this day it all comes together. His cousin, Jesus, makes his way to the riverside and asks to be baptized. With uncharacteristic timidity John backs down, acknowledging that Jesus is closer to God than he is. If there’s any baptizing to be done, it’s Jesus who should baptize him. When Jesus insists, John yields and the result is a moment frozen in time. Jesus comes up out of the water, the Holy Spirit descends, and the Voice of the Father is heard. You might call this a “Trinity moment.” That’s not to say that this event solves the mystery of the Person of Jesus once and for all. For hundreds of years at the beginning of Christianity godly people will struggle with the divinity/humanity of the Lord. This passage will remain a big player in that discussion. Somehow, we have Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Father all acting in individual, complementary ways. Somehow, Jesus, Holy Spirit, and Father are one. Finally, after centuries of debate the Church arrived at the doctrine of the Trinity: Three in One. That isn’t to say the Church came up with a simple, easy to understand explanation of it all. Rather, it’s just an effort at stating a mystery and, really, in the end, it’s simply a matter of faith.
Take Away: Ultimately our religion and specifics concerning it are about faith and not about proof.