The Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ

Jesus, Peter, James, and John were enjoying a cool, clear Sabbath day with a time of silence, rest, and reflection aided by a beautiful and expansive view of the lush, agricultural region of northern Palestine. The crops were nearly ready for the harvest from their rich soil and the land below the hills was alive with color. Peter had been drowsing under a tree and, as he opened his eyes, he saw the two brothers quite literally with their mouths open, staring past him toward the top of the hill.

There was Jesus standing in prayer and he seemed bathed in the brightest light Peter had ever seen! It was as though the brilliance of the noonday sun was being supplemented by a luminosity from within Jesus’ own person. So deep was his communion with his “Abba” in prayer that his very appearance was changed.

Never had Peter, James, and John experienced the holiness of their teacher as powerfully as in that moment. The memory of other such holy ones from their people’s history washed over them: Moses coming down for the second time from Mount Sinai with the ten words of the covenant and his face veiled for the skin shone because he had been talking with God; Elijah on Mount Horeb, like Jesus here, experiencing union with God not in the wind, earthquake, or fire but in the sound of a sheer and profound silence.

A cloud moved over the face of the sun but, for Peter, it was a cloud like the one which had covered Mount Sinai. And he experienced the same truth Jesus had at his baptism in the River Jordan –this is the child of God; listen to him. The moment passed as quickly as it had come, but Peter was unwilling to let it go:

“Rabbi, let’s stay and build our booths for the feast of tabernacles right here. Three of them –one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for you. The law …the prophets …and their fulfillment –in you, the anointed one!” He was positively babbling with excitement, fear, and joy. Slowly, Jesus opened his eyes and lowered his hands. It seemed to take a moment for him to realize exactly where he was. Then, without a word, he started down the mountain. They clambered their way down the steep path in silence for a while until James and John could contain themselves no longer:

“Jesus, do you not know what we just experienced?” “Not exactly,” he smiled, “What?” They recounted what they had witnessed to him as best they could with all the similarities and differences each of them had experienced. And then, according to Peter, Jesus gave them a strange charge: “Do not tell anyone about this until after my death and the resurrection. ”

(From John Mark: a gospel novel by Christopher Epting…order at Amazon.com)

 

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