Almost universally, on August 6, the church has observed an extraordinarily important event in the life of Jesus Christ – the Transfiguration.
The fact that it has been observed on that date has nothing whatsoever to do with the event itself, but rather a somewhat strange decision of Pope Callistus III in 1456 to do so celebrating a military victory of Christians over the Ottoman Turks at Belgrade — not exactly a good Christian reason!
Based on the Gospel accounts, the timing is likely much closer to Easter, which is why the Transfiguration is more appropriately observed before Easter.
More important than the ‘when’ of it is the meaning of it.
Upon close reading of the gospel accounts of the event (Matthew 17: 1 – 9, Mark 9: 2 – 9 and Luke 9: 28 – 36), we discover a number of things:
Jesus was very deliberate in what He was doing and chose to have His closest friends with Him — Peter, James and John — as He did on important occasions.
Jesus was not doing this, or allowing this to happen, for His own benefit.
What happened was for the benefit of His friends who were entrusted with the experience in order that it might be edifying and instructive for the whole church.
So what was it really about? Firstly, it was critical that His followers should be clear about who He really was before He died — ‘This is my beloved Son – listen to him.”, “… they saw His glory…”
Secondly, Jesus, knowing what was to befall Him, wanted to provide them with a clear vision that would see them through the troubling and disillusioning times that lay ahead – “the destiny He was to fulfil in Jerusalem”, “Jesus enjoined them not to tell anyone of the vision until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.”
Thirdly, Jesus uses the event to place Himself at the appropriate point in the salvation history of his people – Jesus was seen between Moses and Elijah; Moses the ‘lawgiver’ and Elijah the first of the prophets.
We are reminded of Jesus saying He had not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfil them.
All of this is what Jesus wanted those close to Him to see and to understand.
How do you see Jesus? Does this event help you?
Would you find it helpful to talk it over with a friend or Pastor?
Maybe it would be helpful to do so.
May God continue to bless you and grant you enlightenment and a vision of His glory.