Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Recognition, part 17: transfiguration

And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. (Luke 9:29-31 NASB)

The entire series, The Recognition, began with a simple question. Who do you say that I am? Peter answered that Jesus was the Christ, Son of the Living God. The events that followed all pointed to the identity of Jesus in one way or another. He was the Commissioner and Equipper who sent them on their first missionary crusade, the Provider and Miracle Worker who fed the multitude. Now, He reveals Himself as Holy and Magnificent, as Divine. 

While Jesus was praying, both his face and his clothing changed. Suddenly, His face was changed and his clothes were white and gleaming. To be more precise, His clothing was more than gleaming. The word used here actually means "flashing like lightening"! What a sight to see! Scripture doesn't tell us how His face was changed but, considering the remarkable change in His clothing, His face must have been incredibly beautiful.

To make the scene even more remarkable, Jesus was joined by Moses and Elijah, also appearing in glory (lightening flashing from them). 

Pause and consider.

It was one of those divine moments when heaven literally came to earth and Jesus  was revealed in His true divine identity. Holy and without blemish, He was both God and man. On the mountain that day, it became clear and anyone who was awake and looking could have seen it for themselves. 

Just before Jesus was transfigured, something important was happening, and I don't want us to miss it. "While He was praying..." While Jesus was talking with God, He was radically and magnificently changed. Should we not also be radically changed by intimate communication with the Almighty? Should we not have such a change of demeanor that people notice a difference in us when we have spent time with God? 

We often speak of "mountain top experiences". I'm not sure to what most people refer, but the Transfiguration is what always comes to mind when I hear those words. An experience on the mountain-top of prayer with Jesus should leave us different, and recognizably so. 

Perhaps the reason our prayer time does not leave us visibly changed is the problem of time. Our tendency is to spend a few minutes in prayer, to say a "quick prayer" or a "little prayer". When Jesus went to pray, He often stayed all night. It was while Jesus was praying that He was changed, not when He first said He was going to pray. If we spent more time in prolonged prayer, interceding before our Father, perhaps we, too, could  experience the kind of transformation that is unmistakeable.  

What result does your time alone with God have in your life? Are you spending enough time in prayer to allow God to change and cleanse you? Transformation is not a speedy process. We must get still before the Lord and remain in an attitude of prayer long enough to allow God to do a work of transformation in us. Why not set aside some time for that very thing, and stay until the work of God in your life is done?