After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. Mark 9, verses 2-9.
Have you ever read about the Transfiguration? The first part of it is listed above. Read it again and then consider what you think about it. Then consider how very, very much in it we can unpack.
There are friends. Jesus was close friends with all twelve of His disciples, yet it’s safe to say that Peter, James and John were His besties. When He walks up the mountain, Jesus doesn’t take just one witness but those three besties so that their testimony would be considered reliable when they were finally allowed to tell about it. Think about that. Was it that He didn’t trust the others? Doubtful. More likely, I think it was because He cared about them. Perhaps they weren’t emotionally ready to carry this knowledge of the amazing thing that happened. These three were the leaders.
Speaking of leaders, there are Moses and Elijah. Moses had died many hundreds of years before, and Elijah had not died but had been taken while alive also centuries before. Yet there they were with Jesus, and they were instantly recognizable to Jesus’ friends. These were great figures in Hebrew history, as pivotal as George Washington and the other Founding Fathers are to Americans today…and maybe just as remote, as much for their ancient age as for the almost mythological things they did. Yet, again, there they were in person: alive and well.
Naturally, the three Apostles were terrified. I would be too, both in awe of what I was seeing and in the stark proof that it all just got very real. Heaven opened up a little and the three mortal men got to see a glimpse of Jesus in His heavenly attire. It was a vision of what would come, as well as a realization that the God-man really was exactly who He said He was. What’s more, it was all clearly supernatural; more than just out of the ordinary. That might seem a little scary.
Finally, God the Father speaks. There are many instances in the Bible of God speaking to men and we attribute them to God as triune, or even as Jesus in a pre-incarnate form. Yet there are actually very few of the Father Himself speaking in His own person to men. Here is one; Jesus’ baptism is another. He clearly identifies Jesus as His beloved Son and those who were there to hear it – Peter, James, John, Moses, Elijah, and Jesus Himself – all heard it.
That’s a lot to unpack in just a few verses.
Jesus, thank You for Your transfiguration.
Read Mark 9, verses 1-13.