"... With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God's grace was so powerfully at work in them all". (Acts 4:33)
Have you ever pondered on the fact that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event in history? The Apostles have preached it as the foundation of the Christian faith and the irrefutable evidence affirming Jesus to be the divine Son of God. God has powerfully work with them in their testimony.
There were apparently 5 events of pivotal significance in the 3 years of ministry of Jesus, namely His baptism, the transfiguration, the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. In 2Peter 1:16-17, the Apostle wrote to encourage believers that they were not following cleverly devised fables as he was an eyewitness of the actual events. Perhaps one would have expected that Peter will then point to the resurrection as the greatest of these events in history. Amazingly, he had perspicuously referred to another event occurring before the crucifixion. Peter had considered that that was the more important event which had iconically manifested the Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. He had referred to the “Transfiguration” on the mountain.
“.... 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” (2Peter 1:16-18)
Peter is putting forward this event to support the ultimate majesty of Christ. Why did he not choose the resurrection?
This is in fact so appropriate, if one tries to look at the facts again. It must be remembered that Jesus, immediately after the resurrection, was seen by many, but not with the 'physical glory" of the Divine Majesty (cf. Lu. 24:16-17; Jn. 20:17). He was only seen in His 'glorified' body after the ascension and the Apostle John also saw the glorified Christ in Rev. 1:12-16. It was also so majestic that John, the beloved Apostle who was so closed to Christ, fell down as a dead man (Rev. 1:17)!
“12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands,
13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.
14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.
15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters.
16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.
18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.
20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches”.
Similarly Peter had witnessed this gloried body of Christ during the transfiguration.
The transfiguration of Jesus is an event recorded in 3 of the gospels when Jesus was transfigured to become radiant with glory upon the mountain. The incident was described in Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, and Luke 9:28–36 it, On the mountain, Jesus began to shine with bright rays of light. The prophets Moses and Elijah appeared next to him and he spoke with them. Jesus was then called "Son" by a voice in the sky, as was at the Baptism of Jesus.
This from Luke 9:28-36:
“28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.
29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.
30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus.
31 They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.
32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)
34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.
35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”
36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.”
If it is understood that during the transfiguration Peter saw this divine glory of Christ, it is fitting that in 2Peter 1:16-17 where he spoke of His ultimate majesty, he quotes the event of the transfiguration. In fact, it will be a mis-quotation if he would merely mention about the resurrected Christ. Once again, we have to study the details in the scripture verses. For Peter, it is the transfiguration that the ultimate glory of Christ is revealed, not right after Christ resurrected from His death. When Jesus and the three apostles were going back down the mountain, Jesus told them not to tell anyone "the things they had seen" until the "Son of Man" had risen from the dead. The resurrection was in continuum to the glorious testimony of Christ, but His glorious body was not ’yet’ witnessed as perceivable physical glory (as recorded in his teaching to His apostles and other events described in the gospels of Luke 24:13-53) for 40 days, not until He ascended into heaven. The transfiguration was a preview and an anticipation of this glorious sequelae.
2Peter 1:16–18 acknowledges that at the transfiguration God assigns to Jesus the special "honor and glory" that was a proclamation of His ultimate greatness, glory and victory in mankind's salvation, connecting God with men on earth and making known that He is exalted above all other powers in creation. Once again we see that the scripture is precise to the point and the ultimate truth is always embedded in the details.
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