Sunday School Lessons

More than Just Bright and Shiny

Picking up from where the previous article left off, something pretty amazing happened one time when Jesus went to pray on a mountain.  (Wherever Jesus went, special things could happen at any time, I suppose, but this particular event seems to have been unique in the accounts of Jesus’ ministry.)

As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.
Luke 9:29 NIV

https://luke.bible/luke-9-29

This event is sometimes called the “transfiguration” of Jesus.  (The Lookout – see reference below – also mentions the word, “metamorphosis”, from Matthew’s and Mark’s accounts.)

If you’ve been in church long enough, though, you may have primarily associated the term “transfiguration” with this specific event in Jesus’ walk here on earth.  However, transfiguration is also a “regular” word, from two roots: “across” and “figure” (per Google, who cites Oxford Languages).  We understand that when we convert words across languages, we translate them.  Also, we probably know related words related to “figure”, like things that can have different configurations (or making a reconfiguration), or something that is disfigured.

In my mind, I think that it’s important that this event has been recognized (via the label, “The Transfiguration of Jesus”) as Jesus showing His disciples something across two aspects of HIs nature.  One the one hand, they knew Him as a man, living in the physical world that He came into.  On the other hand, Jesus had been with the timeless glory of God the Father before Jesus was born in Bethlehem.  Jesus didn’t have to change into something previously unknown in order to be glorified; He could merely show God’s existing glory to these disciples.  The way I see it, Jesus wasn’t changed into something new; this was merely an opportunity where another part of who He is became visible.

In computer graphical displays (especially in video games), there’s a feature called HDR (High Dynamic Range) lighting.  In the real world, there are things (like the sun) that are brighter than even a TV or computer screen can display.  HDR allows those super-bright colors to exist beyond the maximum brightness of the monitor.  They are still shown (along with less-bright content) as the brightest color on the screen, but this provides a more realistic approximation of what we really see in bright light.

I’m pretty sure that, in Heaven, whether we see light in the same way with our new bodies, or things are more different there (compared to this physical universe), the glory of God will be outside the “range” of anything that we have ever seen or experienced (see Ephesians 3:20-21).

Whether this is whiter than we can bleach our good white shirt, or brighter than the sun, there is more in store for us than we can imagine, based on our finite experiences here on earth.

However, God’s glory isn’t something “new” that God needs to create for us in Heaven; it is merely who He is.  When Jesus showed the glory of God, He wasn’t being given a new “configuration”.  Instead, across the range of who Jesus is, I’m pretty sure that He just showed a different part of Himself.

In a song, “O Praise His Name”, the lyrics include the following:

“He shall return in robes of white
The blazing sun shall pierce the night
And I will rise among the saints
My gaze transfixed on Jesus’ face”

https://genius.com/Hillsong-worship-o-praise-the-name-anastasis-lyrics

While this is a newer song, when we think of our “gaze transfixed”, this suggests that we look across from something else, to Jesus’ face.  That “something else” might be the clamor and din of this world.  Another song (an older one) describes this as “the things of earth”:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”

Hymn: Turn your eyes upon Jesus (hymnal.net)

So, I hope that you have started to appreciate the glory and divinity of Jesus Christ.  He wasn’t just a “good man” or a “skilled teacher” (although He was also those things).  He was and is God (and He always will be).

Although it may take us eternity to learn the extent of what that means, Jesus’ visible glory wasn’t new to Him.  In the same way, if you haven’t yet started to appreciate the depth of who Jesus is, today is a great day to start to learn more (perhaps starting at the verse linked at the top of this article).  It will be amazing – I’m sure of that!


From Sunday School lesson prepared for December 12, 2021

References:

  • The Lookout, December 12, 2021 © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
  • Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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