Luke 9 – Narrative Fission

Luke 9 Bible with Green and Blacks 85 percent Cacao Dark Chocolate

Today’s ChocolateGreen & Black’s 85% Cacao Dark Chocolate

Today’s PassageLuke 9

Some stories have a single event that divides them clearly into what happens before the event and what happens after. And of course all the examples I think of are from SNES RPGs: Kefka destroying the planet in Final Fantasy VI, Cecil laying down his dark sword and becoming a paladin in Final Fantasy IV, your team going to 2300 AD and discovering the video footage from the Day of Lavos in Chrono Trigger. Can I think of a single example from actual history or literature? Probably, if I think long enough. But I feel like in the story of Jesus’ earthly life, the Transfiguration is just such an event.

Like the last chapter’s resurrection of the twelve-year-old girl, Peter and James and John are the only witnesses to the transfiguration. It’s simple enough to summarize: Jesus starts glowing, Moses and Elijah show up to talk with him about “His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem” (31), and a voice out of a huge overshadowing cloud declares, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” (35) But such a cursory synopsis risks underemphasizing just how bizarre the whole scene is.

Imagine if you were hiking with someone and they started glowing. Luke only reports that Jesus’ clothes became “flashing like lightning” (29, see NASB translation note) and that “the appearance of his face became different,” but Matthew supplies the detail that “his face shone like the sun” (Matthew 17:2). So at this point, everything we would associate with Jesus in the flesh has turned luminous, like the sun or lightning. Then, long-since-dead, well-known, historical/religious figures show up. It’s as if you and your shining hiking friend were suddenly visited by Jonathan Edwards and Abraham Lincoln. And then comes the voice from the heavens. It’s like Jesus’ baptism dialed up to eleven.

And of course the only reason I’m able to write about it in my colloquial, pseudo-irreverent tone is that I’m sitting at a keyboard in my house listening to video game remixes, not actually witnessing the Transfiguration. Had I been there, I would be in the same position as the three disciples: “face down to the ground and terrified” (Matthew 17:6). The three keep the event to themselves, and if I had to guess why, I’d guess it was out of sheer shock. This is the definition of extraordinary: an event that one beholds once in a lifetime, if that. It’s the sort of event so momentous as to split an entire story in half.

Oh! Julius Caesar. Crossing the Rubicon, of course. Told you I’d think of an example from history.


On another note, here I am posting Wednesday’s post on Thursday night, and you can likely infer the position of the eight ball relative to my own. (Hint: one of us is behind the other, and it’s not the eight ball.) On Friday and Saturday, I’ll be attempting to get back up to speed with two more posts. In the meantime though, it’s time to rest up and get ready for tomorrow.

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