Thurs 6th August - the Festival of the Transfiguration of our Lord
Today is the festival of the Transfiguration of Jesus. We can read the account of the Transfiguration in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, and Peter refers to it in his Second Epistle. One of the things that is important about this event which took place during prayer on a mountain, was that it was witnessed by Jesus’ three closest disciples. In that moment of time and place, they encountered the glory of Jesus. It was a moment of transfiguration for Jesus and of transformation for the disciples.
Three things happened: what they saw, what they heard and what they perceived. You can read the account in Luke 9: 28-36, but here is Peter’s account of the Transfiguration found in 2 Peter 1:16-19:
Eyewitnesses of Christ’s Glory
‘For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ 18 We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.
19 So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.’
What they saw
Luke describes what they saw in these words: ‘And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.‘ (Luke 9:28-31)
They were used to seeing Jesus as a man like them, but that day, they saw his glory.
What they heard
Not only did they hear the words spoken between Jesus, Moses and Elijah about his returning to heaven and what he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem, they also heard the voice of God the Father saying ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased’, the same voice and the same words which they would have heard at the beginning of Jesus ministry, the day he was baptised in the river Jordan. These words, as Peter observes, conveyed the Glory and majesty of Jesus.
They were eyewitnesses of this event: they saw it, they heard it.
What they Perceived
The real question is ‘What did they learn from it’?, or what did they take away from what they saw and heard that day on the mountain. We don’t know the full answer, but we know that this experience was ‘a lamp shining in a dark place’. They had seen the glory and majesty of Jesus, and that vision transformed the way they viewed the rest of their lives, whether they were just living through ordinary everyday circumstances or whether they were going through hardship and persecution. The transforming presence of Jesus was what they held onto, ‘as a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.’
May we see more of Jesus: see him more clearly, and invite him to transform our lives bringing us light when sometimes we feel like we are walking in a dark place.
We see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ:
May we who are partakers at his table
Reflect his life in word and deed,
that all the world may know
His power to change and save.
This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord
If you want to meditate further on the Transfiguration and on this passage in 2 Peter 1:16-19, you can listen here to the ‘Pray as You Go’ meditation: