Transfiguration C: Also check out the Gospel reading accompanied by handbells!
The glory of the LORD is a frightful glory. Few have seen it, and even they caught only a glimpse of it. Moses saw it, or at least the backside of it, and he had to be hidden in a cave to endure it. Elijah caught a glimpse of it, but he had to be hidden in the cave too. Isaiah saw it in a vision, but was convinced he was a dead man and confessed his sinfulness. The shepherds saw it over Bethlehem’s fields the night of Jesus’ birth, and they were filled with fear. As do most, in the midst of unholy people, the Holy Lord’s fulness and glory is a frightful glory, thus the first word is often, “fear not.”
No one may look on God and live, except when God in His mercy permits it. Three of the Twelve saw Jesus in His divine glory – Peter, James, and John. Jesus was changed in appearance before the three. Metamorphosized, transfigured. He glowed with an unearthly glow, shining with the radiance of heaven. His clothes were whiter than any white on earth.
Jesus’ transfiguration sets Him apart from all the others – from Moses and the prophets, from every religious teacher to come along. No one ever appeared this way. We need to remember this mountain and the transfiguration when we think of Jesus. There is so much more to Jesus than meets the eye. The shepherds in Bethlehem saw a tiny baby wrapped in cloths. The disciples saw a rabbi, a carpenter from Nazareth. The healings and exorcisms He did were signs of something greater.
What sets Jesus apart is His shining face and bright clothing, this unearthly brilliance that would blind you to look at Him. Here is no ordinary man, not even an extraordinary man, or a super holy man. He is more than Moses, more the Elijah, more than any holy man who ever left a footprint in history. Greater than John and all who came before and all who would come after. No one ever appeared in this world shining with divinity but this Jesus in whom the fulness of God dwells bodily.
On this mountain He pulled back the veil- just a little! God in the flesh is seen beaming like the sun – light bursting forth – dispelling darkness – stabbing eyes! He is seen in the presence of Moses – who died 1500 years before on Mount Nebo. He is seen in the presence of Elijah whose fiery departure from earth had occurred 900 years prior.
As we stand on the edge of Lent, a season of penitence and preparation for Holy Week, it seems as though we have stood here in glory by this mount of Transfiguration and now we must pass through the shadow death. It seems as though the Transfiguration, though it momentarily showed Jesus in glory merely prepares for the darkness which He must soon endure. Why must we leave this radiant season? Continue reading