Jesus’ transfiguration must have been an impressive sight. His face “shone like the sun” (Matthew 17:2), and his clothes became “as bright as a flash of lightning” (Luke 9:29), “dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them” (Mark 9:3). The disciples weren’t even seeing Jesus in all His glory, because no sinful human can do that and live, but they saw Him in a more glorified state than anyone else had. It’s interesting that Moses was there, because He was another person who had not only seen God’s glory, but also been “transfigured,” in a sense. When He came down Mount Sinai after being in God’s presence, his face was radiant as well, similar to the way Jesus’ face shone on the Mount of Transfiguration. But it might surprise you to learn that you are in the process of being transfigured as well.
Romans 12:2 urges us, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Paul is referring to the ongoing process of sanctification in the life of a believer when he admonishes us to “be transformed.” The same word is used in 2 Corinthians 3:18, when he says, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” In both of these verses, the word that is used for “being transformed,” is the same word used in Jesus’ Transfiguration account. In other words, we are “being transfigured into His likeness with ever-increasing glory.”
I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t feel like I reflect God’s glory very often or very well. I am acutely aware of my shortcomings and failures. How can I ever shine God’s light to those around me when I’m so sinful? The answer is that it doesn’t depend on me. If it did, I would never be able to reflect His glory. Instead, it’s God’s action within me that causes me to be transformed. As 2 Corinthians reminds us, the glory comes “from the Lord.”
Consider Moses for a moment. When did his face shine? After he’d been in the presence of God. He came away from those encounters with a radiant face. But it wasn’t a one-time deal. He didn’t go up on Mount Sinai and come back with a face forever glowing. Rather, as he wore the veil, his face slowly faded and returned to normal until the next time he was in God’s presence. So it is with us. Sanctification is a lifelong process rather than a one-time thing. As we spend time in God’s presence—in the Word, in divine worship—God is working on our hearts. We come away from those encounters with radiant faces, reflecting God’s glory, as we are “being transformed into His likeness.” True, we may not feel like that’s the case. Moses didn’t realize his face was radiant. You probably won’t finish your devotion thinking, “Wow, I’m sure reflecting God’s glory now! I bet my family can tell I’ve been in the presence of God!” But trust God when He says it is so.
The process of sanctification is a gradual one, similar to physical growth. You don’t notice your kids getting taller because you see them every day. But people who haven’t seen them for a year can tell right away that they’ve grown. So it is with sanctification—it happens slowly and gradually. You won’t read one chapter of the Bible and become instantly more patient, more kind, more generous, etc. But every day you spend in the Word, every time you pray, every time you participate in corporate worship, God is working in you and giving you His glory to reflect to those around you.
Take the time every day to spend time in the presence of the Son. You can’t help but reflect His glory when you’re in His presence. Pray that He continues the work of sanctification in your life, and trust that He will answer that prayer. Then go forth into the world transfigured, ready to shine His light.
February 11, 2019 at 2:33 pm
It’s interesting that the terms Luke and Paul use for “transfigured” and “transformed” comes from the Greek word “metamorpho’omai” – the same term used to describe the “metamorphosis” of a homely caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.
February 11, 2019 at 3:13 pm
What a beautiful insight!