Sermon 19th Feb 2023

Reading Matthew 17, 1-9

Peter; Transfiguration

I don’t know what happened that day. What could I say? I was confounded, dumbfounded by the sight, the blazing white of his robes, the brightness of his gaze as if the sun itself shone from his heavenly face.

We’d trace his steps, once again, high into the hills, closer to heaven, closer to his father, he’d said, further from the crowds he’d led just days before. Just I, and James and John, me unsure if I should go on with them.

"Satan", he’d called me, "Get away", he’d said when I’d protested, vehemently contested his assertion that he’d soon be dead.


How could he die, this man, this Messiah, who’d asked me “Who do you say I am” and I’d confessed just that, as he’d decried the liars, the hypocrites the Pharisees who denied him rights to speak of love, this man, this Son of God.


Bad yeast, that’s what he called them and we misunderstood, thought only of the bread, the food he’d fed five thousand men, let alone mere children and forgotten women.

Not bread. He spoke in rhymes, in riddles, as if we’d comprehend the deeper truth, the shocking end he would predict- his death.


And meanwhile the Pharisees wove deeper lies, the yeast that spread and cultured those same men fed, to ultimately wish him dead.

 How could we know that’s what he spoke of then, so when he asked who people said the Son of Man should be, and then asked of me, “Who do you say I am?”, what could I say, what answer could be higher than confess him as the Son of Man, the Messiah.


We trekked higher, James and John and I, to the mountain peak and he stepped aside to kneel, to speak, only with his father. Exhausted we set ourselves down, left him to pray, too tired even to say our own words, the ones he taught, the ones we ought to use when we speak with God.


Next, we know we’re bathed in light, his robes, that blazing white, eliminating darkness. We masked our eyes, hands raised, fingers spread to counter the blinding harshness.

Was it three we saw, the light so bright, perhaps our eyes deceived us, was that Elijah and ancient Moses who shone alongside this blazing Jesus?


You know me, impetuous, in my stupidity, I blurted out some nonsense about shelters to house all three and then….

It began, more as a feeling. From deep within yet I felt the vibration, from the ground, as a sound deeper than I could hear grew in intensity until the air was full of noise as deafening as the light was blinding, not threatening, but beckoning, drawing inexorably for you to hear just one noise, through all the cacophony.

The only sound we heard, the voice of God, the holy words “This is my son, whom I love”.


The world fell silent, not a breeze, not a breath, my heart arrested in my chest, for a moment missed beats as the voice of God speaks “Listen, listen to Him”.


Prostrate upon the ground, James and John and I could bear no more the awesome sound, see no more the blazing incandescent crown surrounding this man, this Christ. No words, no altar no sacrifice upon that hill could suffice the sight, the sound, the voice of God, that holy ground upon which his identity by God confirmed with such intensity, such insistence that we feared our mortal lives’ existence.


He touched my head, I heard his voice, softly as if from a distance “Peter, get up, fear no more”. I raised my eyes, there was no light nor awesome sound. Just him. No Moses or Elijah, just him, God’s Son and our Messiah.


There were other useless words and pointless sounds I uttered as we travelled down. But one thing remained, amongst all my questioning, my desperation to do something, say something, there was one revelation.

“Listen” God had said “Listen to Him”.

Amongst all the clamour and the din of this life we’re living,

“Listen”, God said “Listen to Him”

David Stolton 2023