Signpost for Sunday February 21, 2016, Second Sunday in Lent: Genesis 15:1-12,17-18; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 9:28-36
Luke is a consummate story-teller. As the basis for his work he obviously used similar sources to two of the other gospel writers, but he added material of his own. The story about the transfiguration is very similar to the one in Mark and Matthew. They all have the events which led up to the revelation of the glory of Christ, the appearance of Moses and Elijah, the conversation, the cloud and the voice. But Luke adds a few details. The nature of the details suggests to me that he may have been able to interview one of the people who was there at the time, because he tells us both the reason for going up the mountain (to pray) and the subject of the conversation: Jesus, Moses and Elijah were speaking of his departure (exodos) which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
Even though Luke skilfully weaves into this story some of the major themes of his gospel (prayer, death and resurrection, the history of God’s active work in the world), the purpose of the event itself is not stated.
Was it to mark another major turning-point in the life of Jesus? Was it for the disciples, to confirm in their minds that Jesus is indeed the chosen one? Was it for Jesus, to give courage as he faced torture and death? Was it for us who follow, as a symbol that God is at work in this world?
Perhaps each of these is possible: perhaps all of these are possible.