Monday, July 5, 2010

Changed By Transfiguration

Matthew 17:1-2 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He transfigured before them, His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as light.

Take just a moment and reread the above scripture one more time. Read through it slowly and think about what this encounter must have been like for these three men.

Jesus takes James, along with his good friend Peter and his brother John, up the mountain. Were the three men questioning where they were going and why they needed to go up so high on a mountain? Did they have any idea what was about to happen?

Imagine! Six days after you’ve spent time with Jesus where he's telling you all about his upcoming death and resurrection. Then, you were instructed to take up your cross and follow Him. Now, only days later, you are climbing to the high place on a mountain. Why?

All that Jesus had been telling his disciples was confusing at best. I wonder what thoughts were playing in their minds as they climbed higher and higher “Jesus is going to be killed and raised from the dead? Take up my cross? What cross?” What did all this mean?

Privately, Jesus takes three of His disciples up the mountain to seek God. He does not stay below and reveal His glory to everyone. Instead He takes only these three on his special quest.

Why would these three be the only ones to see all His glory?

Now standing high on the mountain, Jesus does the miraculous, He transfigures right in front of them. Scripture says His face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as light. The substance of His body remained the same. He didn’t turn into a Spirit. His light came from within Him rather upon Him like a spotlight.

Transfigured in Greek is metamorphoo meaning to transform, to metamorphose, change into another form.

The change in Jesus that the disciples witnessed was a complete transformation of His body from human to Devine. Jesus chose three of His closest disciples, a competent number to testify for Him, to see Him in His glory. He gave them a hope to pass on that we can grab hold of today. A hope for all humanity to have a small glimpse of the kingdom that is to come.

I John 1:5 - This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

I Timothy 6:16 - who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power.

Psalm 104:2 - Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.

Jesus appeared in lighted because He IS the light. He IS the light that shines in this dark world. We can take heart and have hope because of this. This world will not be shrouded in darkness forever. Satan will not run loose forever. Eventually, the light of Christ will put the darkness where it belongs and it will be no more. That hope is something we can count on.

The light seen by the disciples was a metamorphosis, a change in Jesus from human to Devine.

Biologically, metamorphosis is a process of complete change after birth. The whole form changes and morphs into a different being. Shape, structure and substance changes in the creature that has a metamorphosis.

There are few creatures that we can even look at to grasp an understanding of what it means to metamorphose. I am sure the process is very different for a deity like Jesus but all we have to gain our understanding is animals or insects here on earth. Let’s look at a few examples to gain at least a small understanding of what James, John and Peter must have witnessed.

The most commonly talked about transformation is of the caterpillar that turns into a butterfly. The caterpillar, which starts as a long fuzzy little creature, builds a cocoon and emerges eventually as a butterfly. It starts as a wormlike insect that squiggles around on sixteen legs and morphs into a colorful winged insect that flies gracefully through the air.

Then there is also the metamorphosis that takes place in a tadpole when it becomes a frog. When a tadpole first comes into being it swims in freshwater. It has a trunk shaped mouth, long slim body, tail, gills and a gill sac, just like any ordinary fish. It lives on a vegetarian diet.

Within the process of a day, the trunk shaped mouth with horny tooth ridges is reabsorbed together with the spiral gut. Then the animal develops a big jaw, the gills and the gill sac disappear. The eyes grow at a very rapid pace, as well as the legs. A tongue is formed. A few days later the tail reabsorbs into the body and is gone. The entire transformation takes only a few days.

Unlike the frog, the transfiguration of Jesus happened in an instant right before the eyes of the disciples. Imagine it! To see the glory of God!

Very few human beings can say they have seen the glory of God with their own eyes. Moses was another that had that privilege.

Exodus 33: 18-23 - And he said, "Please show me Your glory." Then He said, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." But He said, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live." and the Lord said, "Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen."

Moses had been on the mountain a long time enjoying intimate communion with God. Yet he still desired more. He desired to know and see more of God. He wanted more closeness and understanding of God. The more Moses had from God and the more He knew God, the more he wanted and asked for from God.

Just as Moses did, we are the same. The more we know God, the more and more we desire of His presence and His fellowship. The more time we spend in His presence, the more it fills our hearts. I wonder, does it fill His heart the same way? Does His heart about burst from the fullness of it?

Probably not, but I do believe it pleases Him greatly to be intimately sought in fellowship by us. I do believe, the more we spend in His presence the more love He lavishes on us in a way that we could only get from Him.

I believe as we become more intimately acquainted with Him, he reveals more of Himself to us. It’s a rare gift to actually see with our eyes the glory of God. A gift that many of us will only see on the other side of this life. Like those that have left this earth before us, we will also one day get the pleasure of seeing God’s face.

There are only a select few that have gotten the pleasure of seeing the glory of God displayed here on earth. James, John and Peter were three of those few that received that privilege.

What does the experience they had do to a person? How would it affect your life? I would imagine it would for forever change you.

I can not even begin to describe the impact I think it would make on me. I hope I would be forever changed. Changed to point that nothing could shake my faith in Jesus Christ.

For those of us that can only dream about an encounter like James had, we live in hope. Hope that one day soon, we too will see Him in His full glory. And as scripture tells us, we will not only see Him, but we will also be like Him.

I John 3:2 - Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

Looking forward to eternity and holding onto the hope of it is great, but its not everything we have. We have today.... We have the intimate relationship of today that we are urged to pursue now. Everyday we can draw closer to the God of the universe, the light of the world. When we draw closer to Him, He in turn draws closer to us. He pulls us in and reveals to us His wisdom and His glory.

It is a mighty thing to see His glory at work in you and around you. Do you see it? Are you looking for it? If not, there is always today. And its a great day to start.


richies said...

I'm looking forward to the day when we will be transformed in the twinkling of an eye.

An Arkies Musings


Thank you for an excellent post.
1 John is one of my favorite books and "light" is one of my favorite topics.
Thank you for your insight and clarity.
In Him,
Robert Lloyd Russell
Abundant Life Now