O God, who before the passion of your only begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: 2 and he was transfigured before them; and his face did shine as the sun, and his garments became white as the light. 3 And behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elijah talking with him. 4 And Peter answered, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, I will make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. 5 While he was yet speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. 7 And Jesus came and touched them and said, Arise, and be not afraid. 8 And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one, save Jesus only.
9 And as they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen from the dead.
We find that quite frequently, in order to fully understand the Gospel, you must review the Gospel in its context. Of course in doing so we often raise more questions, which perhaps might have been the intentions of the authors as when more questions are raised, we begin to search more diligently for the answers.
Today’s lesson revolves around the event known as the Transfiguration of Christ, which according to the Catholic encyclopedia is the culminating point of His public life, as His Baptism is its starting point, and His Ascension its end. Moreover, this glorious event has been related in detail by St. Matthew (17:1-6), St. Mark (9:1-8), and St. Luke (9:28-36), while St. Peter (2 Peter 1:16-18) and St. John (1:14), two of the privileged witnesses, make allusion to it.
About a week after His sojourn in Cæsarea Philippi, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them to a high mountain apart, where He was transfigured before their ravished eyes. St. Matthew and St. Mark express this phenomenon by the word metemorphothe, which the Vulgate renders transfiguratus est. The Synoptics explain the true meaning of the word by adding “his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow,” according to the Vulgate, or “as light,” according to the Greek text.
This dazzling brightness which emanated from His whole Body was produced by an interior shining of His Divinity. False Judaism had rejected the Messias, and now true Judaism, represented by Moses and Elias, the Law and the Prophets, recognized and adored Him, while for the second time God the Father proclaimed Him His only-begotten and well-loved Son. By this glorious manifestation the Divine Master, who had just foretold His Passion to the Apostles (Matthew 16:21), and who spoke with Moses and Elias of the trials which awaited Him at Jerusalem, strengthened the faith of his three friends and prepared them for the terrible struggle of which they were to be witnesses in Gethsemani, by giving them a foretaste of the glory and heavenly delights to which we attain by suffering.
In order to be saved, one has to truly know who Jesus is — the Messiah, the Savior, God in the flesh. A person cannot obtain salvation if they believe Jesus to be John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or another prophet. Likewise in the modern-day, many people try to say Jesus is someone He is not, such as only a moral teacher or a peace-loving hippie.
Some people have even gone to the lengths of claiming Jesus suffered from the mental disorder of schizophrenia, which would make Him a schizophrenic. If a person believed Jesus suffered from schizophrenia, then His message was not true, and the person would never place faith in Jesus as their Savior and Lord.
Take this as an example: Jesus is here today, and he asks a person “Who do you say I am?” Let’s say the person Jesus is asking is an atheistic sociologist and he answers Jesus by saying, “A schizophrenic,” then Jesus would know this man did not have the correct knowledge of who Jesus truly is because the correct answer is that Jesus is Lord, Messiah, God in the flesh.
Now to look at the event known as the Transfiguration, lets return to Matthew 16:13-18;
13 Now when Jesus came into the parts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Who do men say that the Son of man is? 14 And they said, Some say John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But who say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
Therefore we can reach the conclusion that the question Jesus asked of them in Matthew 16:13, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” is as pertinent to us today as it was to the disciples then. While the disciples reported to Christ that some of the people said that he was the reincarnation of John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets and today some believe that he was only a great moral teacher or the first century equivalent of today’s peace loving, counter cultural hippies, we are wrong in our assumptions unless we truly know who Jesus is — the Messiah, the Savior, God in the flesh.
Jesus said that in the case of Simon Bar-Jonah, who he renamed Peter, this revelation of who Christ was had been given to Peter by God the Father and not through mankind. For this Jesus blessed Peter. Likewise, we can obtain this same blessing when we accept Christ as the Messiah, the Savior, God in the flesh—not because some preacher told us so—but because we know intuitively, with all our heart, that he is Christ the Messiah.
“What’s in Your Wallet?” was a popular advertising campaign for credit card issuer Capital One, a question that implied that everyone needed a Capital One card. Perhaps we each need to ask, “What’s in my heart?” Just as having the “right” credit card in our wallets is not going to get us into heaven, not knowing who Jesus is won’t get us there either.
The Bible texts of the Gospel lessons are from the American Standard Version, Published in 1901, Public Domain.
The Collects, are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979. as found on lectionarypage.net
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