~by Pastor Mike Middaugh
This post is part of a series on the miracles of Jesus. Each week I will look at one miracle performed by Jesus to explore its meaning and significance. I’ll be using several resources to help me out, including an excellent new book by Pastor Jared C. Wilson titled “The Wonder Working God,” published by Crossway.
One of the most often overlooked and undervalued miracles of Jesus takes place just before his royal entry into Jerusalem. Maybe it is because the immediate value of the miracle is not easily defined. No one is fed, no healing takes place, and nobody’s sins are forgiven. But the Transfiguration event is nonetheless a miracle worth pausing to consider.
Jesus’ Transfiguration takes place at the top of a mountain with a small group of followers, and at first glance it seems like a strange event without a clear theological purpose. Perhaps it was one more step in preparing the disciples for what was about to come, or maybe it is more for our sake than theirs, so that we might see the fullness of his glory even before its revelation on Easter morning. Either way, this event is an incredible moment in time when Jesus throws open wide the window into heaven so that his followers might look in.
Up to this point in Jesus’ life his humanity has obscured his divinity, his humility overshadowing his exaltation. But in a moment the reverse takes place. Jesus’ humanity is eclipsed by a glimpse at his radiant glory.
This event brings to mind several major Old Testament events. Moses, after the command to leave Sinai, requests to see the glory of God (Ex. 33:18-23). Years later Isaiah experiences the glory of God in the temple (Isa. 6:1-7). Fire descends from heaven upon the prayers of Elijah (2 Kings 1). And back to Moses who met with God as a burning flame overtaking a bush, but not consuming it (Ex. 3).
Each of these Old Testament events show that seeing God can be a frightening and awe inspiring experience. Imperfect people try to hide themselves from the full glory of a perfect God. The result of the fall is that God usually remains hidden. So as not to harm his people, the fullness of his majesty and power are usually enshrouded and obscured.
But in this moment at the top of the mountain Jesus lets it all hang out.
As a further acknowledgment of Jesus’ authority Moses and Elijah appear alongside him. After a brief conversation these two representatives of “the Law and the Prophets” disappear from view with Jesus left alone (Mark 9). Just as everything in the Old Testament was written to point to Jesus, the transfigured Jesus shows that he is now the summation of all those expectations. He is perfect enough, brilliant enough, righteous enough, and majestic enough to fulfill every Old Testament promise. Simply put, Jesus is enough.
Without boasting or bragging, without pomp or circumstance, Jesus uncovers the truth of who he is. As Jared C. Wilson writes:
He surpasses all the Old Testament “heroes”; he subsumes them in his brilliance, as he is infinitely greater than they. He is the Passover lamb, the manna in the wilderness, the brazen serpent of Moses held aloft to heal all who behold him.
He is the great high priest, surpassing all priests.
He is the good shepherd, surpassing all shepherds.
He is the great judge, surpassing all judges.
He is the King of kings, surpassing all kings.
He is the Lord of lords, surpassing all earthly masters.
He is the bridegroom, surpassing all husbands.
He is the Rabbi Christ, surpassing all preachers.
He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end, surpassing all the best of everyone, the best there’s ever been.
It is important to note in the Transfiguration event that Jesus is not reflecting God the Father’s glory. He is not shining as the moon shines when opposite the sun. Rather, Jesus’ glory is from himself. He is the perfect savior, the fulfillment of the law, the answer to the prophets, and his radiance is his own.
We can be glad for this Transfiguration miracle because it stands above the rest. Providing food, healing the sick, or chasing out of demons all alleviate the symptoms, but the Transfiguration teaches us that Jesus is also capable of becoming the ultimate cure.