Jesus’ Glory Is Veiled
In the story of the transfiguration, Jesus’ disciples catch a glimpse of his divine glory. The change they see in Jesus surprises them because they never understood how glorious their rabbi was. In their experience, Jesus’ glory is veiled. When Jesus appears on a mountain with Moses and Elijah, Peter is excited that his master gets to hang out with such prestigious heroes. What he doesn’t understand is that those heroes are honoured to be with Jesus.
Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets (a shorthand for the Old Testament scriptures). Both men encountered God on the holy mountain, but both saw him imperfectly. Moses saw God’s back (Exodus .34). Elijah spoke to God with his face covered (1 Kings 19). When the Old Testament speaks about God’s great plan to save his people, it comes through men, like Moses and Elijah, whose view of God was imperfect. Jesus is here to fill in the details in stunning high fidelity. When Jesus’ disciples think about the Messiah, they draw their expectations from the writings of men like Moses and Elijah. Jesus is here to set the record straight.
But the disciples can’t let go of the expectations they’ve absorbed from people who only saw in part. Ironically, when Jesus tries to help them understand how he will fulfill God’s promise, they can’t hear it. They don’t understand that Jesus knows more than Moses and Elijah. God allows Peter, James and John to see the Transfiguration so that when Jesus is crucified, they won’t believe he has failed. Instead, they’ll understand everything went to plan.
For Jesus’ followers, called to follow him on the way of the cross, it’s important to remember that Jesus’ Glory is veiled. God amazing things through a life that doesn’t live up to people’s expectations. if we wonder if our mundane lives are achieving anything at all, we can draw strength from Jesus’ example. God glorified himself in a life that didn’t seem glorious then. He can do the same in our lives too.
Last Week’s Sermon: Holy Disagreements