Today we celebrate the transfiguration where Jesus took three of the disciples, Peter, James, and John up a mountain and they witnessed the full glory of the man that they had left everything to follow.
The story of the transfiguration appears in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke just after Jesus foretells His death and resurrection. In the passages before the transfiguration, Jesus is showing the disciples what is to come, that what He has been telling them, is actually going to happen. That Jesus really is the Son of God. And through the witness of the transfiguration His glory is seen for all.
Jesus’s clothes become whiter than the whitest possible white. I wonder what the brightness of this must have been like, and the image I return to is the light produced when the sun shines off the surface of water on a clear day.
We can imagine the scene, stood at the edge of a lake, beautiful clear water radiating the bright high skied sun of midday. The intense light that bounces off the water is mesmerising, transforming the water into a dazzling crystal light display.
I wonder if seeing the transfigured Jesus was like this?
Jesus the living word, the life giving water, the light to lighten the gentiles, reflecting God’s glory.
On that mountain the gate between heaven and earth was opened and the disciples saw Moses and Elijah standing with Jesus. Moses representing the law, Elijah the prophets, Jesus as the living word.
As I thought about Jesus standing between the law and prophets I thought of the words we say during a BCP service from Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
This, the greatest commandment, love your neighbour as yourself, is the transfigured world that we live in, the world that can be transformed by loving each other.
Jesus in His revealed glory transfigures us all, as we live out the gospel life we are inviting God to dwell with us, we are opening up our hearts to Jesus, Emanuel, God with us.
Jesus radiates His glory from us, that we could be that moment for someone, the transfiguration of their faith, where they glimpse God’s glory from loving our neighbour.
Peter didn’t want the experience to end and wishes to set up shelters for Moses and Elijah in a typical hospitable human response. And suddenly a cloud descends.
I can only imagine what it felt like to be on top of a mountain, one moment being able to see for miles around, to suddenly being engulfed by a thick mist.
Last weekend I went to Grasmere with my husband. On the first morning of our stay there was a thick cloud of mist that had rolled down the side of the mountain range and rested delicately on the surface of Grasmere lake.
The stillness that the mist brought was peaceful but not only that, it had completely hid the dramatic hill scape that surrounds Grasmere.
On the following morning, the sky was perfectly clear and as I stepped outside to walk to the edge of the lake I gasped with astonishment. The mist that I had seen the morning before had completely hid the glory of the dramatic hills all around us. It felt like a blindfold had been lifted from my eyes.
I can only imagine that this experience was similar to the disciples as the cloud was cleared with the voice of God ringing in their ears, This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’
Listen to Him.
And they look around and it is just them with Jesus and everything is suddenly so clear.
For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The face of Jesus Christ who gazes on us in His revealed glory, who longs to be with us.
As we walk towards the beginning of Lent this week, let us hold the mystery and the glory of God who dwells with us, our lord Jesus Christ close to us and may the clouds around us be lifted, our faith strengthened, our eyes opened, and our heart set on fire with love for Him.