The Transfiguration2 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one[a] on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings,[b] one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved;[c] listen to him!” 8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.The Coming of Elijah9 As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean. 11 Then they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 12 He said to them, “Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? 13 But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.”The story of the Transfiguration is one of those rare moments when we are permitted to encounter God’s intense fullness. Peter, James, and John were “very much afraid” when they saw Jesus transfigured on the mountain. Through out Jesus’ ministry we see many miracles and wonders, but, God chooses only rare moments to reveal his divine glory in the flesh, and then leaves witnesses for when the time is right the rest of us so we can believe.It’s a story that always makes me wonder why was it only those three disciples, why did they walk up a mountain? Because if other were nearby surely they would have asked when they went back down the mountain ‘what happened?’ Surely the light would have shown for miles. Then there is the fact this is the one time Jesus says don’t say anything – not yet! Other things needed to happen first but then they could tell anyone who would listen.The Transfiguration of Jesus, artwork by Andrew Gray
Mountain top experiences can be awe inspiring, physically and spiritually. Does the altitude have an effect on what we experience in those types of places? I love the emotional effect the painting above by Andrew Grey gives. By darkening the surroundings, using highlights on the disciples give the impression that the light was so intense that it made everything else seem dark.
A far more classical view is Raphael’s painting from 1520.
This is the last painting by the Italian Master painter. It was commissioned by Cardinal Giulio de Merdici, later Pope Clement VII (1523-1534) he worked on it for the Narbonne Cathedral as an altarpiece in France. Currently resides in Vatican City.