by Daniel McCabe
Transfiguration of Jesus
John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
From its peak in ancient days one could look out on the distinctive tribal flags of Naphtali and Zebulun waving proudly in the plains and foothills of Lower Galilee like butterflies waltzing in a warm westerly breeze. There on the flat green summit of Mt. Tabor General Barak encamped with an Israelite army of ten thousand, preparing to do battle with Sisera, commander of the Canannite forces that approached in chariots from the southwest (Judges 4:3-22). The prophetess Deborah had assured Barak that God would deliver Sisera into his hands, and the voice of the prophetess rang true, for the Canaanite forces were soon routed. One millennium later another voice would ring out on a mountaintop in Galilee.
Peter, James, John and Jesus climbed a high mountain to pray (Matthew 17:1; Luke 9:28) when Jesus unexpectedly revealed his divinity to this trio of his most trusted disciples. Luke writes, “And as He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening” (Luke 9:29). Mark adds with his usual flair for detail, “His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them” (Mark 9:3). Watching closely, the disciples then spotted two great prophets of old, Moses and Elijah, speaking with Jesus. What a heart-stopping moment! A chance for the disciples to witness the magnificent hand of heaven doing wondrous things! Not a time for words!
Then Peter spoke up, shattering the glory-soaked mountain air with a clumsy suggestion about something or other. Mark even points out in his gospel that Peter spoke up “because he did not know what to say” (Mark 9:6). Peter had a bad habit of speaking before thinking, and he’d gone and done it again. But thankfully and mercifully Peter’s words evaporated into a descending cloud that overshadowed the three disciples, the two prophets and the divine Son of God. Out of the cloud came a voice, saying, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”
Today the Church of the Transfiguration rises high above the slopes of Mt. Tabor, marking the traditional mountain location where the Son revealed a glimpse of his divinity to the disciples and where the Father expressed pleasure in his Son. It serves to remind one that just as General Sisera swept down the slopes of Tabor to defeat the Canaanite forces in the plains of Esdraelon, so Jesus too would descend from the mountain following his transfiguration to defeat the forces of sin and death that awaited him on a hillside in Jerusalem.
You may need a reminder of the divinity of Jesus. You may need a reminder of the power of Jesus over sin. Or you may simply need a reminder to think before you speak to avoid a gaffe like Peter’s. But certainly we all need the reminder from heaven, “Hear Him!” Open again the Scriptures. You will find strength for the day. You will find grace and truth.
Further Reading: Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36
Dr. Daniel McCabe is the pastor of Faith Bible Church in Spring, Texas. He is a contributing editor for The Jerusalem Connection Report. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.