When the heavenly voice stops speaking and the bright cloud vanishes, the disciples lie stunned, face down in terror. So what does Jesus do? He speaks, "Get up and do not be afraid." We should be careful not to miss what happens first: he touches them.
Jesus comes to them not as a mysterious voice from above but as flesh and blood, fully human, right there. As they walk down the mountain, Jesus makes it even clearer he isn't some invulnerable being: he tells them he will die and then be raised from the dead.
After Easter, our minds jump straight to "raised." Before Easter, Jesus' talk of dying was what grabbed his disciples' attention. How could they make sense of this? How could his glory and his dying both be real? The resurrection of the crucified Christ points to the answer: it lies in God's love that refuses to leave us alone, that reaches to touch us wherever we are—even in death.
Gracious God, keep me alert today and always to the ways Christ reaches out to touch me and say, "Get up and do not be afraid." Give me faith to rise and follow. Amen.
Matthew 17:1-9 (NRSV)
1 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves.
2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.
3 Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.
4 Then Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
5 While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!"
6 When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear.
7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Get up and do not be afraid."
8 And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, "Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."