“I Never Realized That About You”:
Discovering the Wonder of You
February 6, 2005
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Matthew 17: 1-9
1Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain. 2As the men watched, Jesus' appearance changed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothing became dazzling white. 3Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus. 4Peter blurted out, "Lord, this is wonderful! If you want me to, I'll make three shrines, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
5But even as he said it, a bright cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him. Listen to him." 6The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.
7Jesus came over and touched them. "Get up," he said, "don't be afraid." 8And when they looked, they saw only Jesus with them. 9As they descended the mountain, Jesus commanded them, "Don't tell anyone what you have seen until I, the Son of Man, have been raised from the dead."
Brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning!
Let me ask you – what do you think of that Gospel? My goodness, it is an interesting and difficult one, isn’t it? We hear the story of the Transfiguration. Jesus took a few trusted friends and went up to a mountain. They went together to this windy, desolate, elevated place, and then some amazing things happened.
The first thing that the Gospel writer tells us is that a change came over Jesus, an amazing change. His face shone like the sun, and His garments became dazzling white. The disciples were just amazed. And then, lo and behold, Moses and Elijah were there, and they talked with Jesus, conferring with Him. The disciples were overjoyed beyond measure. They wanted to help. They said, “This is wonderful! Lord, it is so good that we are here. Let us build a little house for You, and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
And then it says that a great fog covered the mountain. You must know in that moment that the disciples were awestruck and fearful, because the presence of a cloud, in Hebrew thinking, indicated the very presence of God. The scripture says they just fainted away. And in the next moment there is just Jesus there, saying, “Rise up and don’t be afraid.”
What an amazing story! Isn’t it true that some stories in the Gospel about Jesus are easier to get our arms around than others? I like to think of it this way: there are stories that are earthy and there are stories that are supernatural in the Bible – they seem to fall into those two categories. Let me give you an example. When Jesus was born in a manger, that was an earthy story. I call it a humanizer. But when there were angels in the sky, that was supernatural. I call that a dazzler.
So, we’ve got humanizers and we’ve got dazzlers. Let’s play a little game and see which category these stories fit into:
*Some friends had a fellow who was sick. They brought him to Jesus, and they couldn’t get near Him, so they climbed up on the roof, cut a hole, and lowered the fellow down. Dazzler or humanizer? Humanizer, absolutely.
*Jesus in glowing light on the Mount of Transfiguration – dazzler, don’t you think?
*Jesus emerging from the tomb on Easter morning – dazzler!
*The risen Christ appearing before His disciples and having the disciples say to Him, “Lord, now will You redeem Israel from its political oppressors?” – humanizer.
You get the idea, and today’s story is a real dazzler. Friends, it’s a little difficult for us to get our arms around it, because it is so spectacular. But I tell you this – there is deep and profound truth in this story for our everyday lives. Let me show you how.
Did you ever have the privilege of knowing someone for such a long time that you thought you knew almost everything about them? And then, one day, you had the remarkable privilege of learning something wonderful and new about them? Maybe they said something that was remarkable insightful; maybe they did something incredibly courageous; maybe they shared something with you that was remarkably loving and kind. And so, you had to say, “I never knew that about you. I never realized that wonderful part of you.” My friend, that is a transformation moment.
In that moment – let’s call it a T-moment -- when you behold a new wonder about someone in your world, suddenly the relationship takes on a new depth and a new light. That is exactly what happened to Jesus and the disciples. They thought they knew Jesus pretty well. He called them from the seaside and they left their jobs, because He was so charismatic, and they followed Him. They watched Him heal people and teach. They figured they knew all there was to know about Him.
Then, on the Mount of Transfiguration, they watched Jesus be transformed, united with Moses and Elijah and with the heavenly Father, and they said, “Wow! We never knew that about You.” Just when they thought they knew everything there was to know about Jesus, here was this spectacular new thing. Dear friend, that was a T-moment, a transforming moment.
My prayer for you this week, in your relationships and in your prayer life, is that you may experience T-moments, transforming moments. Let’s see how. I am hoping that you will experience those kinds of moments with people in your world, maybe with the people you live with or live near, with loved ones and friends. Be open to brand-new, wonderful things about them.
I know of a person who is very kind and rather quiet and unassuming, but every now and then she comes out with these remarkable gems of wisdom and insights. It’s like seeing into a whole new part of that person’s personality. And a friend said to her, “My word, you have a remarkable gift for wisdom. I really want to tell you that. I’ve never appreciated it more than now.”
I invite you to experience that with the people in your world. Look for remarkable things, because there is far more to you and to those around you than has ever met the eye. I invite you to discover the wonder of you – you being the people in your world.
Second, I invite you to discover the wonder of you personally. Did you think that you know all there is to know about you? Did you think that God was through with you? Did you think it was time to roll the credits? Did you think that life was just on ‘coast’ from here on out? Dear friends, please think again, because there is more to you than meets the eye.
There is more courage inside of you than you know. There is more wisdom inside of you than you have yet experienced. There is more insight inside of you that has yet to blossom. I invite you to be open to the wonder of you, to the part of you that God has placed within you that is yet to blossom. What talents are going to blossom from you? What measures of faith have not yet opened up, but can and will? Be open to the T-moments in yourself.
I heard an interview this week on public radio with Carol Channing. Carol Channing is a great performer. She was in “Hello, Dolly.” She has received Emmys. She’s a very talented performer. She made a remark not long ago, as she was starting a tour that she’s just taken on the road. She said, “You know, up until now I haven’t thought of myself as a particularly entertaining person or particularly charming person or someone anyone would want to come hear. I’m sort of beginning to come to grips with that now.” Isn’t that wonderful? Carol is 84 years old! And she’s coming to T-moments, transforming moments, as she discovers the wonder within herself.
Oh, may it be so for you! There is so much more that is exciting and remarkable and wonderful about you than has ever blossomed forth. As the disciples watched Jesus on the Mount, so I would invite you to be ready for new blossomings of wonder from your own spirit.
And third, perhaps the most important of all, did we think we knew all there was to know about Jesus Christ? Did we think our knowledge about Jesus was just about complete? Oh, my friends, let’s think again, because Jesus needs to emerge from that box. Just as the disciples discovered Jesus in a new way, my prayer is that you would, too.
In your prayer life, in your walk with Him, I invite you to explore the wonder of Jesus Christ, the power of His saving work, His remarkable ability to transcend time and visit with us and put us in contact with God – these are wonderful things! There are new and exciting things to discover about the Savior, Jesus Christ. There are T-moments in store for you and for me as we think about Him and explore the Bible and contemplate the wonder of His works, yesterday and today and in the future.
So, in conclusion, my prayer for you is that your life would take on an energy and an excitement and a sense of newness and discovery as you have T-moments, discovery-moments, about the wonderful people in your world, about yourself, and about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How exciting all of it is! God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2005 Anthony J. Godlefski