Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Why are you all light, and why now?

Johan Christoph Weigel

and he was transfigured before them:
and his face did shine as the sun,
and his garments became white as the light.
Matthew 17:2 RV


Six days earlier, Jesus had asked the disciples:

Who do men say that the Son of man is?
And they said,
Some say John the Baptist;
some, Elijah:
and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.
Matthew 16:13-14 RV

For all he had shown of his true nature, the people who had witnessed his miracles, heard his teaching, or been his presence could only think of him as less than he was: The Son of God. This must have been a bit disheartening. He then puts the same question directly to the disciples:

But who say ye that I am?
Matthew 16:15 RV

This is huge moment. One can imagine the silence, the uncomfortable shuffling around. Do these men that he has chosen really understand who he is? And even if they do, will they be able to accept what needs to occur?

And Simon Peter answered and said,
Thou art the Christ,
the Son of the living God.
Matthew 16:16 RV

So, they get it. They understand that Jesus is the Messiah, the future implications of which may be a bit trickier.

Then charged he the disciples that they should tell no man that he was the Christ.
From that time began Jesus to shew unto his disciples,
how that he must go unto Jerusalem,
and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes,
and be killed,
and the third day be raised up.
Matthew 16:20-21 RV

The Messiah they had found will be killed by their religious leaders. What kind of a Messiah would allow that to happen? Maybe he is not the Messiah. If their were doubts about this, they weren't voiced as such, rather, Peter flat out denies that this will happen:

Be it far from thee, Lord:
this shall never be unto thee.
Matthew 16:22 RV

This leads us to a reason for the Transfiguration. Maybe Jesus had picked up on the disciples doubts, or Peter's disbelief about Jesus' forthcoming death, or the fact that many viewed him as a "prophet" made him realise that maybe he needed to reveal a little bit more of his true nature.

Of course there are other reasons, but I believe this may be just why the Transfiguration occurs exactly when it did: at the end of his local ministry (Galilee) and before he goes to "the big smoke" (Jerusalem) and to his Passion.

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