This Sunday is the celebration of “The Transfiguration of Our Lord.” The Gospel lesson is Matthew 17:1-9.
“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.’”
“He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’ When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and have no fear.’ And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, ‘Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.’"
What is the meaning and the significance of this historical event?
First, on the high mountain we see the whole Scripture portrayed in human form. The Old Testament is pictured in the persons of Moses and Elijah, who represent the Law and the Prophets. The New Testament is pictured in the persons of Peter, James and John, who represent the Apostles. The Fulfillment of all the Scriptures is pictured in the person of Jesus, who is the Son of God and the Son of Man.
Second, the transfiguration of Jesus is described with the word “metamorphosis.” Jesus’ face began to shine like the sun. His clothes became white as light. The glory of his Deity was shining through the body of his Humanity. He is True God and True Man in One Person.
Third, the bright cloud that overshadowed him and the voice from the cloud was the “Shekinah” presence of God the Father from heaven. God’s Shekinah presence hovered over the Jewish tabernacle when Moses stood before the ark of the covenant in the book of Exodus. Now God’s Shekinah presence hovers over the tabernacle of the body of Jesus.
Fourth, the Word of God from heaven gave direction to all humanity for all time. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” In order to truly know the real and only God, we are turned to behold the face of Jesus. The Father is well pleased in Jesus, his Beloved Son. The Father wants us to listen to the words of Jesus.
Jesus and the apostles walked back down from the mountain to the plains below. He told them to not tell anyone what they had seen till after he was raised from the dead. His passion, suffering and death had to happen first. That is why next week it is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the season of Lent.
We are called to block out the sounds and voices of the devil, the world and our sinful flesh. We are called to listen to Jesus alone. Only in Jesus’ sacrificial death, resurrection and ascension, back to the right hand of God, can we have forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.
This weekend, stop whatever you are doing and listen to Jesus!