We’ve all thought how glorious it would have been to be a disciple, walking and talking with Jesus of Nazareth; but you’ve got to think, how confusing also. After all…Who is this man? (A question they undoubtedly asked more than once). Put yourself in their shoes: Jesus is being revealed as someone incredibly special over the three years that you walk with him, forgiving sins, calming storms, healing lepers, calling Himself the Great I AM, but still there is…well, lack of clarity. After all, you would think, “He looks like us. He talks like us. He laughs like us and sweats and gets tired and hungry like us,” which of course he would because He was fully man. And surely along the way you would be scratching your head with questions.
But then one day Jesus leads the lucky ducks Peter, James and John up a mountain, and it all becomes so very clear. In a flash, before their very eyes, Jesus the one-time carpenter is transforming…changing…transfiguring. His face begins to shine like a spotlight, in fact like the sun, and you can’t even look Him in the eyes anymore. And then his clothes start to change too, from dust-covered brown…to dazzling white, or like Mark joyfully describes, “whiter than any launderer on earth could whiten them.”
Something incredible is happening here: Peter, James and John are seeing Jesus…as God.
And then suddenly two other men show up out of the blue, Moses, representing the Law, and Elijah, representing the Prophets. Now, they weren’t wearing nametags, and somehow I doubt that Jesus offered introductions, but who can say? For my part, I think somehow they all just knew. And this was the craziest thing – their leader Jesus was talking to these two guys – as if they were old friends, and I mean old. Did they hug because they hadn’t seen each other for a while? I wouldn’t be surprised. And so the disciples would be thinking, “Wait a second…how is this all possible?” But wait, that’s not all, for to boot, there can be no doubt who the leader was amongst this august group of three old friends. You see, if Moses and Elijah showed up at my house, I would just humble myself like a Hobbit and say, “Roger at your service, sirs.” But it’s the opposite here – Moses and Elijah are there to serve Jesus. He is absolutely calling the shots, as the Heavenly Father makes clear who the One is with ultimate authority: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!”
And when that voice came from that bright cloud, the clarity of it all was just too clear, and they cowered in terror. But the simultaneously dazzling and caring Jesus laid his hand on the three frightened men, telling them to “Rise, and have no fear.”
And looking up, the men saw that all was restored as if it they had awakened from a magnificent dream. But it was no dream at all. It was reality. In fact, it is the reality we will know one day also, when we see those dazzling white robes and look into the face like the sun, and when, as that transfiguration witness John once said, “…we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2 ESV)
Monday, January 26th: Matthew 18