March 20, 2023
9 And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” 2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) 7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
Heaven on Earth
Imagine being there. Maybe the day is sunny and warm, and you are sweating from the climb up the mountain – and tired and hungry, too. Then you are at the top and the view is wonderful. You take a breath and turn and see Jesus, not as he was but in a totally different way: the heavenly Jesus – and Moses and Elijah are with him and they are talking together. It is an amazing hike, one with a totally unexpected interlude.
How do you know that these men are the two great prophets representing the Law and the prophets of the Old Testament? Well, it seems that you just know. What they talk about is not recorded, but maybe you cannot remember it afterwards. Yet, wow, the heavenly Jesus is not what you are used to and you are dumbfounded so you say silly things to “fill the silence”.
We in 2023 are reminded from this passage that the Immanuel, the God-with-us (as I write this, we have just concluded the 12 days of Christmas and then Epiphany, where the wise men worship the baby King Jesus) is so much more than human flesh. Jesus is the King, the Word-made-flesh, and the Creator, the Sovereign Ruler of all. May we never forget that the heavenly Jesus is really beyond. Another word for beyond is “other” and another word is “holy”. Jesus is the Holy One that the Law and the prophets speak of and that the Jews of the day expected to show up.
The Transfiguration, as this event is called, is a glimpse into heaven. It was at that moment, heaven on earth. We in our daily lives filled with stress (and believe me, I know!) often forget how big, how other and beyond, how HOLY Jesus really is. We also forget that we will be like him (see 1 Corinthians 15:49 and 2 Corinthians 3:18, for example). The Transfiguration is not just for “some day, beyond here” – we are already seated with God in heaven (Ephesians 2:6) and we can experience the wonder and power of Christ in us every day. We really can.
It is no wonder that this event is a key one in the New Testament. It brings the two Testaments of Christian Scripture together and neatly ties them together. It gives us a glimpse into heaven; but it does one more thing which is really key: it gives us God the Father’s testimony about Jesus. “This is my Beloved Son; listen to him!” (listen often means “obey”). Imagine hearing the Father’s voice and what he says – who Jesus is and what to do about it. Imagine hearing that voice and what that might mean for your life.
Prayer: May we hear and obey your voice, and follow you daily, knowing that our home is in heaven and that we have Jesus living in us and already reflect your glory. Amen.