Transfiguration: A Glimpse into Eternity
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Ame
It’s usually easy to create a picture of the Transfiguration in our minds. Jesus takes three of His disciples up on a mountain. It’s just the four of them – by themselves. Then, all of a sudden, Jesus’ likeness is changed. His face shines like the sun. The color of His clothing becomes as white as light. In other words, there is a brightness and splendor here that makes Jesus virtually impossible to look at.
For a brief moment the Lord Jesus shines in all the brightness of the glory and al the fullness of the majesty that He enjoyed in heaven with the through the human frame of Jesus the son of Mary. All the things He had been saying and doing were giving glory to God, but now His face and clothes were shining with His own glory. It is not His Divine nature that is transfigured, but His human. Now we see the splendor that surrounds God in heaven, which Jesus set aside to come to us (John 17:5). There are not two persons, but one. Apart from the Flesh of Jesus there is no Son of God, no Second Person of the Holy Trinity. He, who placed the stars, cast Satan out of heaven, formed the mountains, and crafts each snowflake, is forever joined to the stuff of Mary’s womb, made one of us for us. Jesus, the Son of God, incarnate—made one of us to be the sacrifice, the guilt offering, the atoning death in our place.
And that is the conversation of heaven. Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets, the council of God’s ambassadors of Grace, are gathered together to talk about this. To talk about the only thing that matters, the only thing that counts, the only thing that endures: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. St. Luke tells us that they are speaking on that mountain about Jesus’ coming exodus, about His leading us out of this vale of tears, death, and sin, and into heaven! There is not one method of salvation in the Old Testament and another we can derive from the New Testament, there is not one salvation founded in keeping the Law and another salvation based in belief in Jesus. No. Jesus is the timeless Savior that all the faithful prophets of the Old Testament looked forward to.
And this conversation does not make these prophets sad, or guilty, or afraid. In perfect bliss these men of God are delighted and pleased to talk about the death of Jesus Christ. For they see the Day the Lord has made, they see the coming Day of Atonement. They see that Day when the sun would refuse to shine, the earth would shake, the graves would opened, the day that would bring angels to tears. They see a pagan Centurion plunge His spear in dead Jesus’ side, and then, led by the Holy Spirit boldly confessed, “Surely this Man was the Son of God!” They see that Day from on high. That is the day of which they prophesied. And it is of that day, the Day of Salvation, which these two heroes of the faith appear to talk of with their Lord.
Peter, James, and John, brought to the mountain by their master, see Jesus as He is, and there too see Moses and Elijah. In that moment, the three saw things as they actually are. They saw Jesus in his glory, a reality otherwise hidden in this fallen world. And they were overwhelmed. They saw the saints of old, not dead but living, profoundly and vibrantly filled with the gift of perfect, eternal life. They saw the end and result of faith-life with God in glory.
If only you and I would have been on the mountain that day to see the glory of God. If only you and I would be given a “mountaintop experience” of our own which could reassure us by the presence of God’s saints appearing from heaven. You and I do not yet see things as they truly are. We only see this aging and dying flesh, the corruption of our inborn sin clinging still. We see a life betrayed by sin and marked by death. We see only our needs and shortcomings, and do not imagine how it could be otherwise. But in the Transfiguration we see our destiny, our future, our reality in Christ; we see that we shall be like Moses and Elijah there on the mountaintop; and we shall be like Jesus.
(…WE SHALL BE LIKE JESUS…) HOW CAN THIS BE?
Alien-outside of ourselves
Righteousness-‘right standing before God’
Eschatological understanding-JUDGEMENT DAY TALK
Christ’s work credited to us.
-death of sin
Just as the Father says of Jesus “This is my Son whom I have chosen, he says of us because of our alien righteousness.
The proof of all of this is in the appearing on the mountain of Moses and Elijah. Our God after all, is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And Moses and Elijah are very much alive, along with all those who have gone before in the Faith. Their reality is a fuller, realer reality than what we might now see. Now we see things dimly, but on the mount of the transfiguration Peter and James and John saw things as they are. We see things only in terms of sky and earth, fire and water, flesh and bone. Even so, our Lord comes to us, as the prophets of old promised, as a common looking man who was only for a moment transfigured before the apostles.
Even now our Lord comes to you,as He Himself promises through the holy apostles—He comes in water, Word, bread, and wine. But if we cannot yet see Him directly and as He truly is, have no doubt that His promise is sure, sealed by the blood shed on the Cross, and proven by His rising from the tom
Come, and eat what Peter, James and John, saw on the Mountain. The Mount of the Transfiguration only lasted a little while, but his promise is sure that He is here for us in His Means of Grace. Be strengthened by that eating by which you are joined to the Flesh of Mary’s womb united to divine majesty. Be consoled and comforted by the God who has gone before you to bring you to him. And rejoice in the company of Moses, Elijah, the Apostles, and the whole cloud of witnesses already at rest. For there on the mountain the Apostles saw their future-and yours.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen