Witnesses to the glory of God in the face of Jesus reflect that glory in the world. It was true for Moses. It was doubtless true for Peter, James, and John. We pray that it will be true of all of us who see God’s glory in the word and in the supper and who are being “transformed into the same image” by God’s Spirit.
Readings and Psalm
- Exodus 34:29-35
Coming down from Mount Sinai, Moses’ face shone
- Psalm 99
Proclaim the greatness of the Lord; worship upon God’s holy hill. (Ps. 99:9)
- 2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2
With unveiled faces we see the Lord’s glory as we are transformed
- Luke 9:28-36 [37-43a]
Jesus is transfigured on the mountain
Lifting the Veil
The transfiguration is frustrating for disciples—past and present—who long for an unmediated experience of God. Jesus’ glory is revealed, and then, just as suddenly, a cloud descends and the vision fades. And even though Paul contrasts the Christian’s experience of God with Moses’s veiled experience of God, he notes that we see the glory of the Lord “as though reflected in a mirror” (2 Cor. 3:18). Even with unveiled faces, we don’t see directly, or even clearly. Even when God is revealed in shining glory, much remains veiled and hidden.
As he witnesses Jesus’ transfiguration, Peter’s understanding remains veiled; ours does too. The glimpses we get of God’s glory—through the veil or reflected in the mirror—are expectation-shattering, alarming, overwhelming, and awesome. The love of God shines too brightly to view directly, and yet we do have the privilege of directly experiencing that love in baptism, in communion, in service to God, and in relationship with God’s creation and our neighbors in need. The veils we contend with daily are the barriers that prevent us from truly loving those neighbors, caring for creation, and seeing the shining face of Jesus in the faces of people who are different, hungry, difficult, enemy, invisible, or poor. God is always revealed in ways that surprise and confuse us, whether shining on the mountaintop or dying on the cross.