Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Musings about the Transfiguration

This Sunday is an auspicious day. Not only is it Transfiguration Sunday, it is Valentine Day and the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year. Like Paul Long's sermon preparation Let’s not miss the point of Jesus’ transfiguration, I am preparing a sermon I will preach this Sunday. Found some interesting facts about Raphael's painting, "The Transfiguration of Jesus."

The upper part The Transfiguration of Jesus by Raphael is an event reported by three of the Gospels in which Jesus is transfigured upon a mountain (one is Matthew 17: 1-9). Jesus became radiant, spoke with Moses and Elijah, and was called "Son" by God. Peter, James and John were with Jesus upon the mountain. The transfiguration put Jesus above Moses and Elijah, the two preeminent figures of Judaism. The lower part is a different scene from the Bible, in which the disciples fail to cure a sick boy.

Half-Finished Painting
A. C. Dixon tells us that when the great artist Raphael died at the early age of 37, some of his friends and relatives carried his marvelous painting “The Transfiguration” in the funeral procession. It was only partially finished, and they felt that because of his youth and the limited time he was allotted to use his creative genius, it was a symbol of life’s shortness. But the completed picture has a deeper meaning—a message that should impress itself upon all of us: life’s sojourn is fleeting and death sometimes terminates even our best efforts.



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