Lectionary Year a
February 14, 1999
Matthew 17:1-9

Step V: Hermeneutical Bridge


It seems to me that Jesus was not transformed, after all He is the same yesterday, today and tommorrow; rather at that moment, the apostles saw him in a new light. What Peter had said previously as an intellectual statement, 'You are the Messiah,' they now saw to be a reality.

The following is used by permission from Lectionary Tales for the Pulpit by Merle G. Franke.

The Bible Class

      The weekly Bible class was past its scheduled closing time, but no one made any move to leave, even though the pastor had closed her books and ended the session with prayer. Some incident in the evening's session had opened a reservoir of questions about the way in which God speaks to people. Most of the post-session questions the pastor had heard a hundred times in her ministry.
      "Why doesn't God speak to people today, as he did to, say, Moses or Abraham or lots of those other folks in the Old Testament?" someone wanted to know. "I'll bet every generation of people asks that question," Pastor Olson mused to herself.
      But befoe she could respond, another question popped out from another class member. "Yeah, isn't there a story in one of the Gospels - I think it's Matthew - about Jesus and the three disciples who go up the mountain or hill or whatever it was. I don't remember the whole thing, but doesn't Matthew say they heard a voice? What was it the voice said?"
      Pastor Olson answered, "You remembered it all right. It was the Transfiguration story, and the voice said, 'This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.'"
      "Yeah, that's it," the questioner agreed. But he pushed on, half jokingly, "Why don't we hear God saying that today?"
      Again the pastor answered, this time with a slight smile, "Oh, I've said those words many times from the pulpit, 'Listen to Jesus.'"
      "Well, come on, pastor, that's not quite the same, is it?" the questioner replied.
      Pastor Olson said, "Perhaps not physically the same as hearing a voice from a cloud or a burning bush or whatever. But don't we believe that the message read from Scripture and preached from the pulpit is supposed to be God's Word?"
      Someone objected, "But that's really not the same - not as dramatic - as a voice..." he raised his arms in the air for emphasis, "coming out of the sky, so to speak, and... and ... giving us a message."
      Pastor Olson paused then asked, with just a bit of teasing in her voice, "Do you really think you would listen more attentively or obey more closely if some dismembered voice were to come out of the clouds and tell you what to do with your life?"
      Silence for a moment. Then, "Well... I don't know, but it sure would get our attention," someone offered with a chuckle.
      "True," she replied, "but after the initial attention-grabber, then what? I guess my point would be that we need to be careful so we don't appear to be telling God how to come to us and how to speak to us. That's God's prerogative."
      "So you think God is still speaking to us as he did to some of the people of the Bible?" someone asked as he began gathering up the coffee cups.
      "Speaking to us, yes," Pastor Olson replied, "but not in the same manner. Speaking, yes, loud and clear, most of the time. And still saying it is important for us to listen to his Son."

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