Sunday’s Reflection: The transfiguration of Jesus follows immediately on the scene where Peter confesses Jesus to be the Christ, the Messiah – Luke 9:20. That scene ends with Jesus’ teaching on the coming glory of God’s kingdom to be experienced by the disciples (9:26-27). The transfiguration scene provides a dramatic confirmation of Peter’s confession and a foretaste of the glory to be experienced when God’s kingdom is fully present.
One of the significant details of the story that is unique to Luke’s account of the transfiguration is that it occurs in the context of prayer. It is clearly a point that Luke wants us to note.
Moses and Elijah are commonly interpreted as embodying “the Law and the Prophets,” which is no doubt a significant point.
Yet this is not the only significance of Moses and Elijah. That Jesus was the “prophet like Moses” predicted by Moses himself is emphasized throughout Luke and Acts (seen most clearly in Acts 3:22-23, interpreting Deuteronomy 18:15). And Elijah’s appearance was associated with the coming of the day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5). Their appearance thus points to Jesus fulfilling specific prophecies associated with them as well as the more general notion of Jesus as the fulfillment of all of scripture.
We bear witness to the Transfiguration of Jesus. Echoing the Exodus narrative, Jesus’ identity as the Messiah is affirmed in his remarkable physical transformation on a mountaintop. Jesus’ transformed appearance is thus not merely because he is experiencing God’s glory (like Moses) but rather because he is the very source of divine glory. The point is made explicit when the three disciples are said to see Jesus’ glory in verse 32.
Have you ever had an encounter that was so dazzling that you felt like a different person afterward?