2 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5 Then Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." 6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!" 8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.
After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said,"Here am I." 2 He said, "Take your son, your only-begotten son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." 9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. 10 Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." 12 He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only-begotten son, from me." 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
15 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16 and said, "By myself I have sworn, says the LORD: Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, 18 and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice."
Meditation: What can blind us or keep us from recognizing
God's glory and presence in our lives? Sin and unbelief for sure!
Faith enables us to see what is hidden or unseen to the naked eye.
Through the eyes of faith Abraham recognized God and God's call on
his life. He saw from afar not only what God intended for him, but
for his descendants as well - an everlasting covenant of
friendship and peace with the living God. Abraham is the father of
faith because he put his hope in the promises of God. Faith makes
us taste in advance the light of God's glory when we shall see him
face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2).
The Lord Jesus reveals his glory in fulfilling his Father's will
Are you prepared to see God's glory? God is eager to share his glory with us! We get a glimpse of this when the disciples see Jesus transfigured on the mountain. Jesus' face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white (Mark 9:2,3).
When Moses met with God on Mount Sinai the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God (see Exodus 34:29). Paul says that the Israelites could not look at Moses' face because of its brightness (2 Corinthians 3:7). In the Gospel account Jesus appeared in glory with Moses, the great lawgiver of Israel, and with Elijah, the greatest of the prophets, in the presence of three of his beloved apostles - Peter, James, and John.
What is the significance of this mysterious appearance? Jesus went to the mountain knowing full well what awaited him in Jerusalem - his betrayal, rejection and crucifixion. Jesus very likely discussed this momentous decision to go to the cross with Moses and Elijah. God the Father also spoke with Jesus and gave his approval: This is my beloved Son; listen to him. The Father glorified his Son because he obeyed. The cloud which overshadowed Jesus and his apostles fulfilled the dream of the Jews that when the Messiah came the cloud of God's presence would fill the temple again (see Exodus 16:10, 19:9, 33:9; 1 Kings 8:10; 2 Maccabees 2:8). Jesus is the True Temple come down from heaven who reveals the glory of God to us (John 1:14 and John 2:19, Matthew 12:6), and who opens the way for us to worship the living God in spirit and truth (John 4:21-26).
The Lord wants to share his glory with each of us
The Lord Jesus not only wants us to see his glory - he wants to share this glory with us. And Jesus shows us the way to the Father's glory: follow me - obey my words - take the path I have chosen for you and you will receive the glory and blessings of my Father's kingdom - your names will be written in heaven (Luke 10:20).
Jesus succeeded in his mission because he willingly went to Calvary (where he offered up his life for us on the cross), so that Paradise (our true dwelling place with God) would be restored to us once again. He embraced the cross to obtain the crown of glory that awaits each one of us. If we hope to share fully in his glory, we, too, must follow him in the way of the cross - by dying to sin and embracing his will for our lives. This is the only true path that leads to everlasting peace and joy with God.
Origen (185-254 AD), an early church Scripture scholar and writer, describes how we are changed and transformed into Christ's likeness as we we look to him day by day with faith and honesty and strive to walk according to the light of his truth and righteousness (moral goodness):
"When he is transfigured, his face also shines as the sun that he may be manifested to the children of light who have put off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, and are no longer the children of darkness or night but have become the sons of day, and walk honestly as in the day. Being manifest, he will shine unto them not simply as the sun, but as demonstrated to be the sun of righteousness." [Commentary on Matthew 12:37 by Origen]
Stay awake spiritually - Don't miss God's glory and action
Luke's Gospel account tells us that while Jesus was transfigured, Peter, James, and John were asleep (Luke 9:32)! Upon awakening they discovered Jesus in glory along with Moses and Elijah. How much do we miss of God's glory and action because we are asleep spiritually? There are many things which can keep our minds asleep to the things of God: Mental lethargy and the "unexamined life" can keep us from thinking things through and facing our doubts and questions in the light of Christ's truth. The life of ease can also hinder us from considering the challenging or disturbing demands of Christ to forsake all for him and his kingdom. Prejudice can make us blind to something new the Lord may have for us. Even sorrow can be a block until we can see past it to the glory of God.
How spiritually awake are you to Christ's presence and word of life for you? Peter, James, and John were privileged witnesses of the glory of Christ. We, too, as disciples of Christ are called to be witnesses of his glory. We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). The Lord wants to reveal his glory to us, his beloved disciples. Do you seek his presence with expectant faith, reverence, and willing obedience?
9 I walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
10 I kept my faith, even when I said, "I am greatly afflicted";
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
16 O LORD, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your handmaid. You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.
18 I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: The transfiguration of Jesus, by Jerome (347-420 AD)
"Do you wish to see the transfiguration of Jesus? Behold with me
the Jesus of the Gospels. Let him be simply apprehended. There he
is beheld both 'according to the flesh' and at the same time in
his true divinity. He is beheld in the form of God according to
our capacity for knowledge. This is how he was beheld by those who
went up upon the lofty mountain to be apart with him. Meanwhile
those who do not go up the mountain can still behold his works and
hear his words, which are uplifting. It is before those who go up
that Jesus is transfigured, and not to those below. When he is
transfigured, his face shines as the sun, that he may be
manifested to the children of light, who have put off the works of
darkness and put on the armor of light (Romans 13:12).
They are no longer the children of darkness or night but have
become the children of day. They walk honestly as in the day.
Being manifested, he will shine to them not simply as the sun but
as he is demonstrated to be, the sun of righteousness." (excerpt
from COMMENTARY ON MATTHEW 12.37.10)