Detail of "Transfiguration" by Raphael (1516-1520)
See the entire painting and read its history on Art and the Bible.
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 9:21-36
TO CHEW ON: "Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray." Luke 9:28
Luke links Jesus' sobering words of Luke 9:23-27 (where He speaks of His death, the need for the disciples to face their own deaths daily, the Father being ashamed of those who are ashamed of Jesus and His words, and some disciples not seeing death till they see the kingdom of God) with Jesus' transfiguration. It's as if Luke is saying, With Jesus' pronouncements ringing in their ears the disciples experienced this (Luke 9:28 - 36).
How might the two be connected?
- The transfiguration conversation between Jesus, Moses and Elijah underlined the fact of Jesus' impending death - Luke 9:22,31. (My Bible's Harmony of the Gospels dates the transfiguration somewhere in the beginning to middle of AD 29, about a year before the crucifixion.)
- The disciples were given a taste of the glory Jesus referred to in Luke 9:26. The glory the disciples experienced was visible. Jesus' clothes became white and glistening. It was a glory of well-being. Peter wanted to stay in it and the disciples only became fearful as the cloud that eventually separated them from it overshadowed them - Luke 9:34. This experience gave them a foretaste of what it was like to be in God's penetrating, all-seeing, all-knowing, all-revealing presence—a place they would not want to enter with the shame of having denied Jesus and His words.
- God's words from the cloud ("This is My believed Son. Hear Him" - Luke 9:34) supported Jesus' claim of being on the side of His Father and the angels - Luke 9:26.
And then, kathunk! The voice was silent. The cloud lifted. They were alone with Jesus. I can imagine their thoughts: What just happened? Did it really happen? What does it mean? To their credit the puzzled disciples kept this experience to themselves for the time being.
Some takeaways from this story for me, for us...
1. God's revelations, when He pulls back the curtain to show us glimpses of the divine, will line up with what He has said in other places, e.g. the teachings of the Bible.
2. We don't want to enter His presence ashamed because of our short-sighted fear of man.
3. It's okay to keep divine encounters to ourselves until we gain insight into what they mean.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, help me to live in such a way that I can someday stand unashamed before You in all Your glory. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.