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The Transfiguration-Our Path to Glory-The other side of the Cross-August 6th.

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

The Transfiguration August 6th

The Transfiguration is one of the five major milestones in the gospel narrative of the life of Jesus, with the others being the Baptism, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension. We may recall that the Transfiguration of Jesus is an event on a moain in which Jesus is transfigured or turned into a being that is radiant in glory. The story of the transfiguration also appears in three of the synoptic Gospels: Matthew 17 1-9, Mark 9:2-8 and Luke 9:28-36), as well as in 2 Peter 1:16-18.

In all of these accounts, we read that Jesus and his selected Apostles, Peter, James and John, go up to the Mount of Transfiguration and witness Jesus taking on a new appearance. He immediately begins to shine through incredibly bright rays of light. His face and clothing become brilliantly lit up.

The prophets Moses and Elijah appear next to Jesus and they speak to one another. After which, through a cloud, a voice from heaven resonates for all to hear “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” It is understood that the one speaking is God the Father, proclaiming as He also did during Jesus’ baptism, that Jesus is not only his son, but His ‘Chosen Son’.

The new reality is that Jesus is the divinely declared ‘Christ’ or ‘Anointed One’. Jesus recognizing the absolute shock and fear that came over his witnesses physically touched them and provided them with a sense of calm about the matter.

It was through the Transfiguration that Jesus let the Apostles know what was going to happen, and gave them permission to share the news of this event after it occurred in Jerusalem. They were to remain silent until then. Once He had risen again, they could relay to others the experience they just had. One could only imagine that it must have been a truly a transformative experience for all who witnessed the Transfiguration.

Revealing the Son of the Living God

The Transfiguration is unique because it involves Jesus himself. St. Thomas Aquinas considered the Transfiguration, “the greatest miracle” in the sense that it added to the significance of just who Jesus was and it encapsulated a moment where the divine and perfect interacted with the worldly. The Transfiguration is truly a watershed moment. It is also a moment of reality in which human nature encounters God, in its Christian context. The mountain is the place in which the temporal world and the eternal world interact with Jesus himself as the conduit, the literal bridge between heaven and earth.

The Transfiguration echoes the appearance of God to Moses on Mount Sinai. Peter James and John form an inner circle of disciples who have been chosen to witness the transformed Jesus, whose future Glory is revealed. We also see Moses and Elijah communicate with Jesus. One can interpret this as the prophets representing the old law or Covenant. But what has now transpired is the transitioning of the old law, through the transfigured Jesus, into a new Covenant.

It was a common belief that God only existed in the world of the dead (Matthew 22:32). The Transfiguration, however, counters this idea in that we witness God as not just ‘the God of the dead, but the God of the living’. Even though Moses had died and Elijah had been taken up to heaven (2 Kings 2:11), they both now live in the presence of Jesus, the Son of God; and this Grace applies to all who face eventual death, as long as they have faith. As the early Church Father Origen points out, the Transfiguration and the Resurrection are a glorified state demonstrating God's action in the world through the death and Resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.

From the moment that the Apostle Peter had declared that Jesus was indeed “the Christ”, the Son of the living God; there began a process whereby Jesus revealed himself as the one who must make his way to Jerusalem and suffer many things — even to the point of death, only to be bodily raised on the third day. One may recall that originally Peter derided Jesus' predictions, whilst the others simply could not understand it any better than he. They would all, nevertheless, fully understand the meaning of Jesus’ journey once He had risen from the

Jesus is Divine

The disciples, with Peter speaking for them, had confessed that Jesus was the Messiah but they had a somewhat confused idea of what that really meant, and the additional matter of Jesus speaking of his own death had confused them even further. The Transfiguration, though, served to confirm Peter's confession that Jesus was indeed the Messiah and it also showed the witnesses that Jesus was no ordinary man or even a great prophet for that matter. It demonstrated for them that he was without question no less than the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel. The episode on the mountain had confirmed for them that the identity of Jesus was divinely conceived and that God had told them so. From that moment on, Jesus had the imprint, or the identity that intimately connected Him fully to the Creator, God the Father.

Jesus speaks with Authority

After the Transfiguration, Peter came to better understand that Jesus spoke with authority. In 2 Peter 1:16-21, he acknowledged that Jesus’ word is both deep-rooted and undisputable and that we must always follow it.

The Transfiguration, of which he was a witness, carried this much weight; both then and now. We are given a demonstration that Jesus alone has authority over all men. Moses and Elijah had only limited authority to speak (cf. Rom. 3:21) but in Jesus full authority is revealed. To some degree this can be seen as a movement away from the Law and Prophets and a movement toward the early Church (cf. Acts 15, Galatians, etc.).

The Kingdom of Jesus the Messiah is characterized by Glory

Because of the Transfiguration, the witnesses were given the opportunity to experience a portion of the ‘Glory and Victory’ of Jesus. The victory would be made even clearer after Jesus' Resurrection where the disciples would then fully understand the magnitude of just who Jesus was and the significance of His ministry. One can look at the Transfiguration as a way to demonstrate to the disciples (and all Christians who would follow) that their mission would be to carry on after the Messiah had finished His mission, speaking with authority about the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Glorified Son of God.

The Cross and Jesus’ commitment to it

We learn in Luke's version of the Transfiguration that Jesus spoke with Moses and Elijah about his approaching death in Jerusalem (Luke 9:31). This is an important piece of information, because it shows us the proper context in which to view this scene. Also, the order of events in Matthew’s story demonstrates very clearly that the Transfiguration was meant to be interpreted in light of Jesus’ death and Resurrection.

References to His death frame the Transfiguration story as well (Matt.16:21; 17:12, 22ff), and Jesus told his disciples not to discuss what they had seen until after the Resurrection (Matt. 17:9). Undoubtedly, Jesus wanted them to view the Transfiguration in this way. Jesus wanted his disciples to know that he would be glorified. But it would not be the kind of Glory most people were expecting; that being a worldly kind of supremacy; nor would He gain that Glory in the way that most people thought he would, that being by physical war with Rome.

Our Path to Glory: The other side of the Cross

The Glory that lay in store for Jesus, which the disciples previewed in the Transfiguration, would come through His death and Resurrection. The Transfiguration was meant to be a lesson on the Cross. One of its purposes was to show us that it is necessary to face death and its consequences. But on the other side of the Cross there is life again. This is why Jesus was fully committed to the Cross; as it was the path to Glory (cf. John 12:24).

It should be understood that the Transfiguration was not an accidental event. Rather, it was a perfectly timed-out and executed manifestation of God’s Glory that served as a lesson for the disciples into the meaning and purpose of Jesus’ Messianic ministry. It was also a way for them to understand the power, the glory and the greatness of Jesus and how through Him, this Glory can be attained for us.


The first of two Reflections on the Transfiguration

Published on July 15th, 2015 in The Traditional Anglican News Volume 3 Issue 7

{Revised on August 5th, 2021 & December 8th,2022}

© Dr. Charles Warner 2022

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