vv 2-3. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them.
This was an utterly extraordinary experience for these disciples who accompanied Jesus up the mountain. Peter was obviously lost for words – and who would not have been! Somehow, eternity broke through into time, and men, long since dead, appeared talking with Jesus. This was more than a vision, or hallucination, it was a unique, real event that helped shape the disciples’ view of Him.
There are some events in Jesus’ life to which we can relate, even if we have not experienced anything like it. The miraculous healings – yes, I can imagine those; His anger directed at the money changers in the Temple – yes, that too; His acceptance of the little children – that seems to suit his character; but this Transfiguration – Whoa there! This just seems utterly extraordinary and well outside any range of experiences I can imagine. So what is going on here, I wonder?
Cast your mind back, if you will, to the well-known words at the beginning of John’s Gospel. ‘So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. ‘ (John 1:14) Where did John see this glory? When Jews thought of this ‘Glory’ they would be thinking of the incident in 2 Chronicles 7:3 ‘ When all the people of Israel saw the fire coming down and the glorious presence of the Lord filling the Temple, they fell face down on the ground and worshiped and praised the Lord, saying,
“He is good! His faithful love endures forever!” ‘ “Glory” spoke to them of the glorious and overwhelming presence of God living among them. Was it this that John had in mind when he reflected on this moment with Jesus on the mountain? For that for one wonderful moment, the humble, Galilean preacher displayed this divine glory living among them just as the Jews did in the Temple when it was dedicated by Solomon.
When Jesus came from glory to live amongst ordinary people, He was not play-acting at being human – He experienced the rawness of humanity. But here, on the mountain with a few chosen disciples, the eternal glory broke through and testified to His Heavenly Sonship. This was a unique moment that added to the disciples’ experience of Jesus and enabled John to write later ‘we have seen his glory’.
Jesus was a Man transfigured like no other.