The Narrative Lectionary this week brings us to the story of Jesus’ transfiguration in Luke 9:28-45. In today’s post, I want to look back at things I’ve drawn and written about this event over the past few years and describe the evolution of the Jesus rollercoaster. Tomorrow and Friday I intend to draw and think through this text with, hopefully, fresh eyes in preparation for the sermon this weekend.

It Began in Hart Haus

Our network of house churches–Hart Haus–studied the life of Jesus in 2004. I was ambitious and somewhat naive back then, so I decided to create my own harmony of the Gospels. I merged all the texts (I know, this completely destroys the whole point of four Gospels. It is the sin of the diatessaron. my bad) into one continuous story. Then I subdivided the stories into 15 sections and drew an illustration that tried to summarize the content of each section. Then, I further subdivided those sections into five sections and wrote a study guide for each of those sections. This created a 15-week study with 75 daily studies. Whew!

All the members of our house churches worked through the daily studies throughout the week and then we gathered in our homes on Sunday morning to discuss them. When we moved to Minnesota, my Dad encouraged me to put the study into a book. So, I did. You can see it here.

Below is the Master image that shows the sweeping arc of Jesus’ story. Notice how the transfiguration is at the peak of the mountain. Everything that built up to this moment happened in Galilee. Everything after this moment moved toward or took place in Jerusalem. That is how Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell the story, at least. John has a different arc, but 3 voices overshadowed 1, so I drew it like this.

Here is the illustration of the transfiguration section. This image could actually work for this week’s sermon…

The Roller Coaster for Catechism

I came on staff at Grace Lutheran Church in Andover, MN in January 2010, and added the youth ministry leadership responsibilities to my plate in the fall of that year. My first task in Catechism was to walk through the Bible in one year. I was really excited, because I had taught the Bible A-Z in various forms for years in previous churches. That year, when it came time to teach the Life of Jesus in the Spring, the Master illustration above morphed. I was trying to think of a way to make the story memorable and engaging for middle schoolers. That’s when it clicked…

The Jesus Roller Coaster.

This image is from a PowerPoint that I put together when I taught the Life of Jesus course for adults at Grace in 2011. We filled in the blanks as the weeks progressed (Let me know if you would like more information on those PowerPoints).

Here is the basic outline of the rollercoaster:

  • The early years are like getting into the car, pulling down the roll bar, and pushing out to the bottom of the hill, “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…”
  • The click, click, click of climbing the big hill are the early ministry years when Jesus was gaining popularity through his Preaching, Power, and Parables.
  • The sending of the twelve and John’s beheading are like the fake hill. “Psych!” You thought this was where you were heading, but it takes a twist.
  • Jesus expands his horizons beyond Israel and reaches out to the Gentiles with the feeding of the 4,000 and the sending of the 72.
  • The apex of the story, and its turning point, is the transfiguration.
  • Then it all goes speeding down the big hill, “We’re gonna die!” (Luke’s travel narrative)
  • The Passion week is the loop section: Up with the Triumphal Entry, Down with the arrest, up with the Crucifixion, down with the burial, Up with the resurrection and ascension.
  • Then, the car returns to the station, and we do it again. That is the story of Acts. This time we get to live out the story.
  • And on, and on it goes.

And Then to Bible Mania

I did a walk through the Bible for adults in October 2014. We called this Bible Mania. You can watch the Jesus rollercoaster videos below.

Here are images from last year’s sermon from Mark 8:27-9:8

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