After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
One of the ways we are changed progressively into the likeness of Christ is by looking at His glory. “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into His likeness” (2 Corinthians 3:18). The way to become more and more like the Lord is to fix your gaze on His glory and hold Him in view.
We hum the music we listen to. We speak with the accent of the region from which we come. We pick up the manners of our parents. And we naturally tend to imitate the people we admire most. So it is with God. If we fix our attention on Him and hold His glory in our view, we will be changed from one degree of glory to another into His likeness. In this change that happens, seeing is not only believing; seeing is becoming.
In our Gospel lesson Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up on a high mountain. When they are all alone something amazing happens. All of a sudden Jesus is transfigured and is revealed in His heavenly glory: “His face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light.” Then a bright cloud overshadows them and God speaks from the cloud, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.”
This is the Son of whom Colossians 2:9 says, “In Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” The Son of God is not merely a chosen man. He has the fullness of deity in Him.
This is the Son of whom Colossians 1:15 says, “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation [that is, the one who has the exalted status of divine Sonship over all creation, as the next phrase shows]; for in Him all things were created in heaven and on earth.”
This is the Son of whom Hebrews 1:3 says, “He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of His nature, upholding the universe by His word of power.”
This is the Son of whom Philippians 2:6 says, “Though He was in the form of God, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant.”
In the Transfiguration the disciples (and we) are confronted with the reality that, in encountering Jesus, we are encountering God in the flesh.
Here is the greatest obstacle to our salvation: How could such a righteous God ever set His affection on sinners like us? But in the Transfiguration we see the very foundation of our salvation, for it is precisely the infinite regard that the Father has for the Son which makes it possible for me, a wicked sinner, to be loved and accepted in the Son, because in His death He atoned for all the offenses that I had done against the Father’s glory through my sins.
So let us stand in awe of this great God! And let us turn from all the petty resentments and trivial pursuits and fleeting pleasures of life, and join in with the gladness that God has in the image of His own perfections, namely, His Son. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen.
This month’s reflections have been written by The Very Rev. Robert S. Munday, Ph.D., D.D. Rev. Munday is Rector of All Saints Anglican Church, Montrose, Colorado, and is a member of the Board of Anglicans for Life.