The transfiguration is one of my favorite scenes of the Gospels. In fact, I meditate on it and on Jesus’ manifested glory every week as a means to help me become closer to God and increase the virtue of Hope. As soon as Jesus asked Peter, John, and James to the mountain you knew something big was about to happen. After all, Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai, Jesus chose the 12 apostles on a mountain top, and He delivered the powerful Beatitudes sermon on a mount by the Sea of Galilee. God had revealed Himself on a mountain before and He was about to do it again.
After reading the story of the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-8), I often place myself on top of the mountain (which could be Mt Tabor), along with Peter, James, and John. I focus on Jesus’ radiant beauty, on His beautiful, peaceful, and yet powerful light. In the Gospel, Mark describes it as “dazzling white.” Peter, says “but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1: 16). I imagine his radiant light bathing my entire being, with its warmth penetrating deep within my body. In that moment I feel a deep union with Jesus.
I have to admit, I never think of Moses and Elija there. But of course, their presence was significant. They represent the Law and the Prophets. They point to Jesus as the fulfillment of the Scriptures and as the new covenant with the people of God. God of course, comes in a cloud and speaks. Peter said “For he received honor 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.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.” (2 Peter 1: 17-18) Where did we hear that before? That’s right, when Jesus was Baptized. So we hear God proclaiming the Divinity of His Son at the start of His public ministry and at it’s climax. Except this time God added a bit more, “listen to Him!” We need to listen to him and we need to follow what he taught us through words and actions.
Why did Jesus take these apostles to experience his Divine glory? What was He trying to convey? This event occurred only 6 days from the time Jesus went to Caesarea Philippi and asked His disciples “Who do you say that I am?” and Peter said that He was the Messiah. Jesus then started to share about His approaching suffering, death, and resurrection. Perhaps these apostles needed to understand what he meant by resurrection. They need to know that all of the suffering was not going to be in vain, as it will lead Jesus to this glory next to His Father, and eventually they would join Him too in the Kingdom of God. This is the same fate that awaits us as well, with God’s grace and mercy. We too will transfigure and enjoy an eternity in the radiant splendor of God. But we first must carry our cross.