When Jesus invited Peter, James and John to come with Him the day they hiked up Mount Tabor, I wonder what was going through their minds? Just us? Where to? What now? Certainly, they felt the warm pleasure of being chosen—because they were chosen. From among the 12 closest, these three were even closer.
When they arrived at the summit, they may have expected Jesus to separate Himself for a time of private prayer with His Father, which He often did. But this time Jesus did not withdraw; right in front of them, as they gazed at Him, He became white as light. Jesus stood before them in glory, illuminated as if in a white-hot sun or a luminous pure white host. Moses and Elijah arrived too and were conversing with Jesus. Surely these two patriarchs of old felt their hearts burning within them as they spoke with the living Torah – the Word of God made flesh. And what of the hearts of Peter, James, and John to see the most revered of their forefathers before their waking eyes?
And then they heard the Voice. From within the cloud it came, and they were afraid. Was it a voice like the “sound of many waters” (Rev.1:15) or the quiet whisper Elijah heard on Mt. Horeb (1 Kings 19:12)? Somehow, I think neither. I think it was a proclamation of singular authority. “This is My beloved Son with Whom I am well pleased, listen to Him.”
Imagine the impact of these words on the Apostles. Against the lifelong backdrop of “Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is Lord alone” (Deut. 6:4-7), the Shema now becomes, “Hear O Israel, the God who is One, has a Son.” The Father reveals the true identity of this man Jesus as His Son—the Father claims Him. The Father, with the Holy Spirit, reveals Jesus as beloved Son. And the Son, with the Holy Spirit, in turn reveals the true nature of the Father as a Father Who loves, a Father Who is Love.
Do you hear the delight in the Father’s declaration? It is the delight of a father who has searched for his son through the days and through the nights of year upon century; starting from when Adam first hid himself from God, but now he is found in Jesus the New Adam, the only-begotten Son and firstborn of many brethren (Rom. 8:29). In Jesus we can all come out of hiding and be found by the Father.
It is as if the Holy Trinity in this moment heals the ancient wound between son and father. The first Adam hid in fear, not knowing what to expect of God. The New Adam knows that He need not hide, His Father is good—unfailingly good. By His total obedience, by His unfailing trust, Jesus draws forth these healing and affirming words from a loving Father Who is pleased and proud of His Son.
Jesus is transfigured in the rays of the Father’s love, and with the Holy Spirit He magnifies this radiance to all who believe in Him. On this Feast of the Transfiguration, would that we all allow the healing rays of the Father’s Love to envelope us as we hear the voice of the Father call us His “beloved” and claim us as His own.