Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (Matthew 17: 1-9)
There is lots of stuff going on in our story today. We’ve talked about a few points already this week. Here are a few other things that are on my mind after reading our transfiguration story.
Can you picture those dazzling white clothes that Jesus had? When I think of them, I picture the whitest of the white. Jesus’ shining garments displayed his glory. We read in Isaiah (1:18) that “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” It’s interesting to me that the whitest of the white, just like newly fallen snow, would be Jesus’s clothing here. He will take those red sin stains away and make them white.
We hear God’s voice telling us that God is pleased with the son. Did you remember that we also heard that at Jesus’ baptism? I find it interesting that these two stories, with God’s booming voice from the heavens, bookend our season of Epiphany. We will also hear God’s voice on Palm Sunday, as written in John 12:28.
When Moses and Elijah appear, they are seen by the disciples but then they disappear. They only see Jesus alive. Since Moses and Elijah represent the law and the prophets, it’s interesting to think that the gospel, the fulfillment of both, is the only one that remains.
I also find it fascinating that Jesus told his trusted friends not to tell anyone. Maybe it was because the masses of Israel had an incorrect concept of the messiah. They did not believe he was a servant, but a king. Could Jesus have been playing into that notion? A sort of, “If you know, you know” mentality?
There is so much depth in this story. It’s become one of my favorites. I hope this week you have learned a little bit more about it and on Sunday when it is read in church, you can hear it with fresh ears!
Great God of dazzling beauty
and overshadowing majesty,
in Jesus Christ, your beloved Son,
we glimpse the image of your glory.
Teach us to listen to him
so that we may hear your voice
and follow your holy way;
through Jesus Christ our Savior.