The Disciples, New Creation & the Meaning of Transfiguration

(Transfiguration Sunday is in 2 Sundays, preceding Lent.)

The following is an excerpt from “Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible: Matthew” by Stanley Hauerwas.

“At the transfiguration the disciples get a glimpse of the glory of the Son of Man – the Son who was with the Father on the seventh day and the Son who will be with the Father on the last day. John Howard Yoder observes that the confession that the Messiah has been placed by God above and not within the cosmology and culture of the world means that under his lordship the cosmos finds its true meaning and coherence. In Colossians the powers are rightly understood to be not merely defeated but reenlisted in their original purpose to praise God. In the Revelation of John the logos, the rationality of the universe and of history, is not only dethroned but is put to work illuminating the work of the martyrs. Yoder continues:

To know that the Lamb who was slain was worthy to receive power not only enables his disciples to face martyrdom when they must; it also enables his disciples to go about their daily crafts and trades, to do their duties as parents and neighbors, without be driven to despair by cosmic doubt. Even before the broken world can be made whole by the Second Coming, the witnesses to the first coming – through the very fact that they proclaim Christ above the powers, the Son above the angels – are enabled to go on proleptically in the redemption of creation. Only this evangelical Christology can found a truly transformationist approach to culture. We still do not see that the world has been set straight. We still have no proof that it right is right. We still have not found a bridge or a way to leap from historical uncertainty to some other more solid base that would oblige people to believe or make our own believing sure. ‘As it is, we do not see everything in subjection to him. But we do see Jesus, revealing the grace of God by tasting death for everyone.’ (Heb. 2:8-9). (Yoder 1984, 61)

When the disciples fall to the ground in fear after hearing the voice of the Father, Jesus touches them and tells them not to be afraid. Jesus’ touch is significant. By touching them Jesus reminds them that the very one who is declared by a voice from heaven to be the Son is flesh and blood. In this man heaven and earth are joined. As a result, the earth is transformed, made bright and shining, ‘charged with the grandeur of God,” as Hopkins wrote. The transfiguration heralds the new creation, reconstituting not only our lives but existence itself. As it is, we do not yet see that all is complete, but with the disciples we do see Jesus.”

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