Those who read this blog may have noticed my continual referral to love. Well here I go again with another aspect. The Greek metamorphoō means transfigured, transformed, changed in form. It is a transformation from the inside that reveals itself on the outside. Scripture tells us this week if we are celebrating what is known as the feast of the Transfiguration that Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a mountain where they witnessed this event. His face was like the light of the sun, his clothes like a bright light. It was like God calling Moses to go to the top of a mountain where he would receive the tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were written.
The bright light reminds us of the pillars of cloud and fire that guided the children of Israel out of Egypt. The image reminds us that God appears in these guiding lights as the God who is with us wherever we go in our life journey. The clouds and fires represent the presence of God in front of us, guiding us by day and night. The transfiguration of Jesus was observed as a divine light that emanated from his body that revealed to the disciple’s truths they had not understood through Jesus’s words alone.
Jesus knew that they would not be able to comprehend the meaning of resurrection that was to come, so they were provided with this unforgettable visual teaching method. The hardest lessons that we learn in life stay with us because we witness them with our eyes. As humans, we believe what we see and not what others see for us. Jesus knew that the coming events of his suffering, death, and resurrection would become the “good news” throughout eternity if told through the eyes and memory of the disciples.
Wow, can you imagine how you would react if you were witness to this event. Also, the words of God, “You are my son,” are familiar to us Christians because these were the words God used when Jesus was baptised by water and the Spirit. We can draw an understanding from this in that God, our Creator, understands everything about us, and therefore knows how to teach us and guide us, just like he did with the Israelites and the disciples.
In the scripture reading from the second letter attributed to Peter set for the day we find that God’s teaching method remains with Peter, who boldly confronts and argues with false teachers that Jesus will return. The belief of the second coming is held tightly by Peter mainly because he was an eyewitness to the glory of God and Jesus’s transfiguration. Peter knew as an eyewitness the truth of God’s majesty and strongly stated that he was not telling false tales.
He speaks in first person and in third person, using the other witnesses to validate what Jesus had communicated to them through the transfiguration, what they heard and saw. They heard God give honour to his Son and saw glory in the brightness of Jesus’s face and clothing. They saw and heard the honour and glory of Jesus, for Jesus is identified as the Messiah of Israel, and the coming of his future kingdom. The witness of the apostles is the foundation of our faith.
The church year teaches us something in putting Transfiguration Sunday right before Lent. After meeting the glory of a God who keeps faith with the faithless, we are not meant to come down the mountain to avenge a God who has renounced revenge. We are instead called to come down the mountain full of confidence in God’s love for the very people who have betrayed God, even ourselves.
After meeting glory, we are meant to be moved to turn away from those things blocking our relationship with God who has already forgiven us. After meeting glory, we are called to come down from the mountain ready to engage in the difficult discipleship of loving the people God has decided to love. After meeting glory, we called to be prepared to journey with Jesus to the cross that is the price of this love. After Transfiguration, Lent. And after meeting glory, we journey to find understanding of the cross for our own lives.