Exhortation for October 5:
Luke's account of the Transfiguration is one of the densest passages in the entire New Testament. In context, it is a preview of the glory the Son of Man will display when He comes in His kingdom. It is a sign of Jesus' messianic glory, a foretaste of the glory of Jesus' resurrection, of His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and of the glory He displays in the destruction of apostate Jerusalem in AD 70.
The Transfiguration took place place on the eighth day, the day after the Sabbath, the first day of a second week, the beginning of a new world. The eighth day, the last day of the Aaronic ordination rite, when the priest in his glorious robes would first enter into the sanctuary to minister. The eighth day, when the corpse-defiled man, after a week of cleansing rites, reentered the community of Israel, renewing his circumcision. The eighth day, the day of circumcision, the day on which an Israelite infant males entered into the covenant people in the shedding of blood, which pointed to the circumcision of Christ on the cross, which brought in the true eighth day, the beginning of a new creation.
On this eighth day, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John onto a mountain to pray, a mountain that gathers up and fulfills all the great mountains of Israel's history: the mountain of God on which Yahweh God planted the garden of Eden, the mountain of Moriah where Isaac died and rose again, the mountain of Sinai where the Lord revealed Himself to Moses in a gleaming cloud of fire and smoke, the mountain of Zion where David brought the ark-throne of Yahweh, the temple mountain where Solomon built the house of Yahweh, the mountain of later days that would become the chief of the mountains and where Yahweh would spread a feast for His restored people.
On this mountain, Jesus stands as the New Adam, the new and greater Moses, the Lord Himself surrounded by His glorious angels, in a bright and shining cloud. He is the Son of Man prophesied by Daniel, who ascended in clouds to the Ancient of Days to receive all kingdoms and nations and dominions, and He is the Ancient of Days robed in a robe white as snow.
And on this mountain on the eighth day, Moses and Elijah appear, the prophets of Israel, discussing the exodus that Jesus was to accomplish in Jerusalem. For Jesus was shortly to set His face toward Jerusalem, where He was going to suffer, be betrayed, be killed, and be raised from the dead, all in order to bring a people out of the Egypt of sin and death and the Egypt of fallen and corrupted Israel, ruled by the murderous Pharaoh-king Herod.
Even now we are only scratching the surface of this passage, for we have barely mentioned the disciples, their sleep, the tabernacles that Peter wants to build, the voice that comes from the cloud, Jesus as the Elect and Chosen Son of the Father, and Jesus' instructions to the three apostles not to reveal what they had seen. The deceptively simple words of this passage hide a depthless sea of beauty and glory, the glory of the Word of God who is also the Son of Man. The glory of the Transfiguration is manifest in the glories of this account of the Transfiguration. The text is not a melody but a symphony.
But what can we do with this? How is this practical? Can this kind of piling up and piling on help us live as Christians? Much in every way, as Paul would say. For our highest calling is not only to glorify God but also to enjoy Him forever. The exhortation today is this: Taste and see that the Lord is good by tasting and seeing that His word is good. It is sweeter than honey in the honeycomb. His words are the kisses of His mouth, which are better than wine. Immerse yourself in the word, bathe in it, drown in it, drink it in until the room starts spinning, and begin now to enjoy God forever.
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Sunday, October 05, 2003 at 07:19 AM
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