Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. Then they asked him, ‘Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ He said to them, ‘Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.’
From the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’
Today we are being called to reflect upon the identity of Jesus … who he really was and is. On what probably began like a normal day, Jesus took three of his disciples and he led them up a high mountain … by themselves. As they journeyed together Jesus was transfigured before them. In this moment of Transfiguration Christ’s true glory was revealed. Then, by way of confirmation of what they had seen, there came a voice which said: This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him! In a fleeting moment the truth of Jesus’ identity was revealed in all of its mystical glory.
Surely those three disciples were overcome with all that they had seen. The one whom they had followed since his first invitation to follow was, without doubt, the Son of God, the Messiah, the one who had come to bring salvation into this world. They must have been bursting with a desire to shout out that they were, in fact, now proved to be right. But, Jesus said, ‘No!’ Jesus specifically ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen. The frustration of those three disciples must have been almost unbearable.
It is easy for us to put ourselves in the place of Peter and James and John. When we witness or experience exciting things we want to rush out and share it with others, even when that is not necessarily the most appropriate thing to do. Today we hear Jesus saying, in effect, ‘No! Wait! The time is not yet right.’
Jesus is now turning from all that has gone before towards all that lies ahead. Soon will come his triumphant entry into Jerusalem and the playing out of all that was foretold in the words of the prophets of old. Soon the world will be travelling through the events, the horror and the victory of the time we know as Holy Week and Easter. In Jesus’ instruction to remain silent about the Transfiguration there is no sense of waiting until he could say, ‘I told you so!’ Rather, Jesus is wanting people to come to him because of the sacrifice that lies ahead. Jesus does not want to rely on that which would be denied by so many. Jesus wants the world to recognise the totality of God’s interaction with the world, the establishing of new covenant between God and humanity.
Let us pray that we might stand firm in our knowledge of the transfigured Christ, the One who is our Redeemer and Saviour. Let us pray that through the strength of our faith others may join us on the journey. Let us pray for the time when we come before the transfigured Christ who reigns in heaven, sitting alongside his Heavenly Father, and join the angelic hosts of heaven in singing the praises of God for all time.