The preeminence of Christ
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. Mt. 17:5
This is something we need to be reminded of and often. This passage teaches us that, above all, Jesus is preeminent and central to our faith and life. Of all the things that grab our interest and attention, Jesus ought to have the preeminent place. Why? What happened on the Mount of Transfiguration gives us at least three reasons.
Jesus is the key to our worship. For Jesus is more than just a divine man, more than a holy prophet. He is the Divine Son of God. This is shown in the way he is transfigured. He does not merely reflect the glory of God: rather, the glory of God shines from him. The light is described as the light of the sun (think of Paul’s encounter of Jesus on the road to Damascus and John’s encounter in the book of Revelation), and the whiteness of his garments as light. One thinks of the references of the Messiah in terms of a star (Num. 24:17; Mal. 4:2; cf. also 2 Pet. 1:16-18 and Heb. 1:3). This is what John was referring to when he said, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14).
Jesus is the key to the whole Bible. The Law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah) witness to him. The preeminence of Christ over the two implies this. The disciples are to hear God’s Son. Does this mean that they are not to listen to the Scriptures? No, they are to hear the Scriptures. The prophets are still a more sure word of prophesy. We don’t hear the Son by turning away our ears from the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Rather, we hear the Son by seeing him in the Old Testament. He is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, as our Lord himself said in Matthew 5:17-20.
Jesus is the key to our hope. The glory of the kingdom for which we wait does not belong to this age. Jesus was pointing them to something greater than what they had seen. This was a foretaste of greater things. Though they had seen the power of Christ in his miracles, here was something infinitely grander. And though we can experience the power of our Lord though the Spirit, we should not think that this is anything more than a pledge of greater things to come. The disciples were wrong to settle for less. Their expectations had been too low, and so often so are ours. The transfiguration reminds us that the kingdom in its fullness is yet to come.