The Transfiguration of Jesus

I don’t know whether Jesus meant to be seen transfigured. Matthew and Mark suggest that
Jesus did intend for the disciples to see him. Luke gives us a little more detail – about them
praying and the rousing from sleep – and in my imagination I see the scene as the disciples
spotting Jesus ‘shining’ as he prayed and conversed with Moses and Elijah and when the
moment seemed to be coming to a close with Moses and Elijah’s leaving Jesus, Peter pipes
up with his suggestion of tents, ‘to keep the moment’.
Did that make it harder for those three disciples to
then deal with or process Jesus’ arrest – come on
Jesus, glow! – or his court trial – c’mon, Jesus, glow!
– or his flogging – Jesus, why aren’t you glowing? –
or his stumbling to the cross – Jesus, where’s the
glowing? – or his crucifixion, darkness, and death –
Jesus … ?????????????
Two of those disciples – Peter and John – run to the
tomb on the Sunday morning and John gets there first
and peers in and Peter turns up and goes straight in.
Then John goes in and they both see the linen cloths
and the face cloth folded in a place by itself. John sees and believes even though they didn’t
understand the Scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead (and Jesus did tell them!). Did
John in replaying all the Jesus ‘scenes’ in his head include the transfiguration and God’s
message ‘Listen to him’? (When you get to heaven, you can ask John!)
Christianity is ‘built’ on the message of ‘Christ crucified’ – and that is very good for us – our
God serves us in such a sacrifice but this shining event isn’t ignored. Did it shape the opening
message in 1 John about ‘God is light and in him there is no darkness at all’ (1 John 1:5)? In
nd Peter we read, ‘For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you
the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
For when he received honour and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him
by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves
heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. (2 Peter
1:16-18 ESV)
One thing the transfiguration does do is put Jesus’ crucifixion into an even more stark relief (if
that is possible) when we consider the power of the person on the cross and his not using it
but dying – giving up his life – for us all.
We hunger and hanker for the ‘shiny stuff’. We want the spectacular and the miraculous to
stay – contained somehow or called on when needed – in tents so to speak – but we are told
instead to listen to Jesus. It is his Word that helps us see Jesus, why he came to Earth, and
how and why he is with us. We’d prefer the ‘shiny stuff’ – words, water, bread and wine are
so ordinary and common place and ‘non shiny’. And yet the power and the glory are at their
paradoxical height on the cross rather than the mountain.
How does that help us live? GS