Jesus took three of his apostles with him, went up a mountain, and, for a moment, was transfigured from their familiar rabbi into the glorious Son of God.
And, like us, they were transformed by his presence… Nah. Like us, they were sleeping through the whole thing,
Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” —not knowing what he said. (Luke 9:32-33)
Ironically, the same thing happens when Jesus displays his vulnerable humanity in the Garden of Gethsemane,
And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’ Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? (Matthew 26:39-40)
Like us, they were transformed by his Passion… Nah. You get the picture.
People say things like, “If God would just tell me what he wants… If God would just be less mysterious… If God would just appear to me…”
He did all that. Still does, through the Word as written in the Scriptures. But it doesn’t matter if he shows up in glorious miracles or in the depths of human suffering. We are “weighed down” with the weakness of our sin-dissipated human nature. Our thoughts turn into day dreams and pipe dreams. We sleep through his presence.
Nothing to be done for it, really. Sure, we can “try harder to stay awake,” but you can ask my wife how well I do with that after a long day at work.
Jesus Christ’s love for us is so great that he transforms our weakness to share his glory. He has done and continues, through the Holy Spirit, to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Through his perfect offering and eternal intercession for us, we are delivered from the sleep of death to share the unending day in the joy of our heavenly Father.
O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect of the Transfiguration, Book of Common Prayer 1979)