J. Vernon McGee died in 1988, but his "Through the Bible" radio broadcasts are still popular today on Christian radio. His raspy voice is distinctive, and his method was simple: to take the listener through the entire Bible in five years, a half hour at a time. This morning as I was driving to Churchville to visit my mother, his broadcast came on WDCX in Buffalo. Working through the gospel of Matthew, he was in the 17th chapter, dealing with the Transfiguration of Jesus, and presented a viewpoint on this incident I had never before considered.
The text tells us that Jesus' appearance glowed, his face shining like the sun and his clothing became white as light. John later wrote that "we beheld his glory," (1:14), and Peter wrote that "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."
We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain."
I've always looked at the transfiguration texts (Matthew 17 and Mark 9) as revealing Jesus' divine nature to his three closest disciples, and through them, to us. They saw him primarily in his humanity; here his divinity was manifest. McGee looked at it a bit differently: What if in the transfiguration Jesus was revealing our true humanity instead of his divinity? Elsewhere in the Bible, we are told that we are to be clothed in glory; In 1 Corinthians 15, St. Paul longs for the day when he receives a new resurrection body that is far more glorious than even the best humanity can boast.
In Genesis, it wasn't until after they had sinned, that Adam and Eve realized they were naked. The inference is that prior to their sin, they were clothed in glory, a glory that sin destroyed, and that will be restored in the resurrection.
The transfiguration not only revealed Jesus as he really is, but also ourselves as we shall be, minus the divinity. St. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 to put on the whole armor of God, then goes on to describe different pieces of that armor, each of which is a different aspect of Christ himself. Ultimately, the goal is for us to be clothed in righteousness, putting on Christ himself.
I think it was St. Augustine who said that Jesus became like us so we could become like him. The transfiguration is not only a glimpse into the nature of Jesus Christ, but also into our future as we someday will be fully clothed in him. That is something for which to give thanks!