May 23

Text: Matthew 17:1-3

And six days later Jesus *took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and *brought them up to a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.  And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. (NASB)

A dramatic change in perceptions often occurs slowly.  Personal perceptions are powerfully influenced by what we regard to be the meaning of the situation.  Change the meaning of the situation, and you usually change others’ perception of the situation.

As an example, consider a lynching.  Good people are convinced to condone or participate in a horrible act.  Before the lynching, an instigator succeeded in convincing some good men that a terrible crime needed immediate justice.  After the lynching, the same good men are convinced (1) they were used and (2) through their efforts an injustice occurred that ignored law.

The same men are involved.  The same act occurred.  The crime has not changed.  The person killed has not changed.  However, before the lynching, the death was a good happening.  After the lynching, the death was a terrible happening.  What changed?  The meaning of the act changed.  The meaning changed from an act of justice to an act of lawlessness.  The men‘s perception changed because the meaning of the act changed.  If meaning did not change, perception would not change.

Peter’s perception was reeling.  He knew Jesus was the Christ—a good thing.  But, he had to decide what that meant.  He relied on the expectations of the Israelite society—confusingly to him, a bad thing.  He tried to convince Jesus that Jesus’ life was not in jeopardy—confusingly to Peter, a bad thing.  He was concerned about the people who would be willing to follow Jesus—confusingly to Peter, a bad thing.

Now a brilliant, transfigured Jesus was talking to Moses and Elijah.  What was going on?  What did this mean?  How was he to respond to this situation?  After all, the leader of the 12 should say something!

Suggestion for reflection: What is the meaning of what you know?  (Read Acts 10:23-29.)

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 Copyright 2011 David Chadwell