The transfiguration


#1

Just wondering if anyone can explain to me why Jesus tells the apostles not to tell anyone of the transfiguration until after the resurrection. Thx


#2

What do you think would happen if they would have ran down the hill and told everyone they say jesus in the air transformed speaking to old jewish revered dead people in the sky...

Jesus probably knew what would become of that.

He came as a "suffering servant" and nothing needed to get in the way of His mission. He had a job to do.


#3

Remember Jesus resisted all attempt by the people to make Him a king because He understood they misunderstood what He meant by His coming as the King. There is no context given directly to this, but Jesus makes it clear elsewhere that His kingdom is not of this world and is not merely a kingdom to over throw the Romans and install the Jews as kings of the Earth, an idea that persisted even to the time of the Ascension among the Apostles, but instead to save the Jews and their enemies the Romans and the whole world under the mercy of God.

But the people were not ready to receive such a message and so it would have made His coming to die all the more difficult if the people knew He was sitting with Moses and Elijah on top of a mountain.

God Bless


#4

Could be multiple reasons.

  1. The apostles might have been arrested for claiming this.
  2. It might have started the questioning, arrest, trial of Jesus before He planned for it.
  3. Might have incited the crowd even more to believe He was coming to claim a temporal kingdom.

#5

Among the miraculous events of Jesus's life, this surely ranks way up there and yet John and Peter, two of the witnesses, barely even mentions it in their writings.


#6

Many times the Lord wanted His little ones to be quiet about great signs. He told the healed to not tell anyone, and He told s. Peter and the apostles to not reveal that He was the Messiah. He also escaped the crowd when they wanted to name Him king.

I don't think it's just a matter of the consequences. It's also because of God's own way of doing things, which is quietly, like the whisper of a soft wind, not knowing when or where it will come or go.

Also, the clamor of acclamation is truly nothing but vainglory. It did not take long for the Hosannah to transform into a Crucifige. It is meaningful that the Lord walked away from this sort of expression, exhorting the people instead to give praise to God.

Perhaps you are so well-pleased with the glory of the Transfiguration that you wanted this joy to be shared with all so that they would believe. Well, in John 14:22 we read that the holy apostle s. Jude had the very same thought in mind regarding the Resurrection:

Lord, how is it, that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not to the world?

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

Is it not a most mysterious reply? :) Then again, it does reflect what the Lord had always preached: it is not the sign that makes the believer, but love of God.

Jesus therefore said to him: Unless you see signs and wonders, you believe not.

A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it

After all, when the Lord performed miracles before the teachers of the Law, they - like others today do - found alternative explanations for them :shrug:


#7

[quote="cornbread_r2, post:5, topic:313705"]
Among the miraculous events of Jesus's life, this surely ranks way up there and yet John and Peter, two of the witnesses, barely even mentions it in their writings.

[/quote]

...Which probably indicates what a well known and treasured memory it was at the times the Apostles were writing what would become the Scriptures. The New Testament writers largely wrote what they did to (a) record what had not already been written before, (b) to remind believers of things they had been taught, but now seem to be forgetting, and (c) to generally encourage and exhort them.

For example, Peter and John in their later writings, never mention Jesus walking on water, feeding the 5000 or the raising of Lazarus from the dead after being dead for three days, but to me those seem like a pretty big deal. The examples could be multiplied, but the point is they probably didn't mention these things because they were already well known. If you think about it this way, Peter mentioning the Transfiguration in one of his letters (almost in passing, it seems) is all the more remarkable.


#8

[quote="Fidelis, post:7, topic:313705"]
...Which probably indicates what a well known and treasured memory it was at the times the Apostles were writing what would become the Scriptures. The New Testament writers largely wrote what they did to (a) record what had not already been written before, (b) to remind believers of things they had been taught, but now seem to be forgetting, and (c) to generally encourage and exhort them.

For example, Peter and John in their later writings, never mention Jesus walking on water, feeding the 5000 or the raising of Lazarus from the dead after being dead for three days, but to me those seem like a pretty big deal. The examples could be multiplied, but the point is they probably didn't mention these things because they were already well known. If you think about it this way, Peter mentioning the Transfiguration in one of his letters (almost in passing, it seems) is all the more remarkable.

[/quote]

The Gospels frequently mention events duplicated in all of Gospels; the failure of John, an eyewitness, to mention the Transfiguration in his Gospel is a notable and curious exception. Indeed, since the Gospel of John is generally regarded to have been written last among the Gospels, if any audience might need to be reminded it would seem that it would be his. According to this article referencing a couple of theologians, Aquinas thought the Transfiguration rivaled the Resurrection and Ascension in significance.


#9

The transfiguration is absent in John’s gospel, of course. But then again, a lot of material found in the synoptics is omitted in the gospel as well, aside from those which are too good to be omitted (for example, the feeding of the 5000 and the passion narrative), and even then, many of these parallel stories appear in a different version. It could simply be part of the author’s wish to do things his own way without any pressure to repeat what has already been done (John is, after all, widely held to be the last of the canonical gospels to be written).

Another good reason for John to omit the transfiguration is because it simply had no definite place in his gospel. Of course, it could have been made to fit: for those with eyes to see, Jesus’ signs displayed His glory (2:11) even before the cross; presumably the transfiguration could have treated in a similar manner. Even so, John lays stress on the glory of the Son in the context of His humanity, culminating in the cross and His return to the glory He had with the Father before the world began. He does not report glimpses of glory somewhat abstracted from that mission, a foretaste of what was to come apart from the mission itself. The closest we ever get to the transfiguration in John is the voice from heaven in 12:28. It is there that everything turns on the imminence of the ‘hour’ that is nothing less than the cross itself. The hour for the Son to be glorified is ‘here’, i.e. it is the next item in God’s gracious and sovereign timing; but it is not a visible display of glory before the climax toward which John’s gospel has been building.

If the author’s purpose was to evangelize Jews and gentiles, then there is also the scandal of a crucified Messiah to take into account, something which the early Christians as a whole faced. The author cannot remove the intrinsic offence of the cross. What he can do - and what he may have felt he must do - is to show that the cross was there from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (cf. the announcement of Jesus as the Lamb of God in 1:29), and that the cross is at one and the same time nothing less than God’s own plan, the evidence of the people’s rejection of their Messiah, the means of returning Jesus to the Father’s presence, the heart of God’s inscrutable purposes to bring cleansing (cf. chapter 13) and life to His people, the dawning of the promised eschatological age, God’s astonishing plan to bring glory to Himself by being glorified in His Messiah. If this is John’s concern, it wouldn’t be too surprising that he chose to say nothing about the transfiguration: his purpose was too finely honed to admit it.


#10

On the one hand, while John omitted the particular transfiguration story, on the other hand, one can also say that the whole gospel of John is really a ‘transfiguration’ story: instead of a single pericope, the main themes from the synopic pericope seem to have been reconfigured as motifs that flash now and again at key points in the gospel. The main elements of the synoptic transfiguration account are the following:

[LIST]*]The geographical features (the light, the cloud, and the mountain)
*]The presence of Moses and Elijah
*]The change in bodily form to reveal Jesus’ glory
*]The reference to tents
*]God confirming Jesus as the divine Son, and directing the disciples to listen to His teaching
*]The presence of the disciples, their fear, incomprehension and faith[/LIST]
There are a number of passages in John that do contain some of these elements, yet their usage is carefully edited. In fact, we can see a number of them right at the very first chapter:

The true light, which gives light to every man, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him, and the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own did not accept him. But to all who accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in his name: who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Logos became flesh and pitched his tent among us. And we beheld his glory, glory as of an only Son from the Father, full of grace and of truth. …] For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is in the Father’s bosom, he has made him known.


#11

Do not forget that John also includes a reference to the Transfiguration in his prologue when he says, John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Also recall that the Gospel of John is focused on the Crucifixion narrative far more than the other Gospels. The upper room discourse, the High Priestly Prayer, the extended account of His trial before Caiaphus and Pilate, the giving of the Blessed Virgin to the Apostle and then the extended account of Him after the crucifixion. All of these are elements of St John’s Gospel and they consume the majority of his writing. So much so that the Apostle himself declares that he has edited the work down considerably.

So John’s focus is not so much on proving Jesus to be the Christ. Remember that by the time of its compiling the Apostle was an old man at Ephesus and was part fo a Church so there was no need to argue for Jesus as Messiah. However instead John focuses on the Deity of Christ and argues that Jesus must be believed on as God rather than just as Messiah.

The flavor of John’s Gospel is that it is not concerned with historical narrative but instead compiles short instances of Jesus life to build toward the conclusion that He, as God, established His Church and commanded it be kept and fed under the Apostles, especially under the office of the Keys.

God Bless


#12

[quote="bogeydogg, post:3, topic:313705"]
Remember Jesus resisted all attempt by the people to make Him a king because He understood they misunderstood what He meant by His coming as the King. There is no context given directly to this, but Jesus makes it clear elsewhere that His kingdom is not of this world and is not merely a kingdom to over throw the Romans and install the Jews as kings of the Earth, an idea that persisted even to the time of the Ascension among the Apostles, but instead to save the Jews and their enemies the Romans and the whole world under the mercy of God.

[/quote]

I think it's worth pointing out that what Jesus actually said is that His kingdom is not "from" this world. Ouk estin ek tou kosmou tovtou. The meaning is not so much that Jesus' kingdom is just this completely nebulous, otherworldly thing that doesn't have any connection with this world, as the saying is sometimes interpreted. Rather, it means that this kingdom is not like the kingdoms of the world, which establish their authority by hate, violence, injustice and falsehood. However much they dress it up, sovereignty is enforced, and sooner or later that means restraint, and sooner or later restraint means violence. In other words, what Jesus was saying is, "my kingdom is not like the kingdoms that this world creates." And it is precisely because of that reason that His followers would not fight to prevent Him being handed over.

The kingdom comes from somewhere else – as, indeed, Jesus had earlier strikingly claimed about Himself (8:23), and then, even more strikingly, about His followers (17:14). This kingdom was not from this world, but was emphatically for this world: it is God's gift to the world (with Christ as the courier of this present), and is intended as the sovereignty which would replace the usurped sovereignty of "the ruler of this world" and the human agents which that dark power had employed. It is something that reaches the earth as it reaches heaven. The kingdom must come 'on earth as in heaven', and precisely for that reason it is not "from" this world. However, because the world was not yet ready for it, it had rejected this present and its deliverer.

Of course, this sharp contrast between the Kingdom of Heaven and the kingdoms of this world means that both sides actively clash with each other, even today. Again, when Jesus and Christians say that God is the Ruler of the earth, it meant that Caesar wasn't really what he claimed to be: a god and the ruler of the earth.


#13

Ah, the Messianic secret! :smiley: I’d like to approach the problem by looking at each gospel individually. Let’s start with Mark first because the motif is particularly strong in his gospel.

In Mark’s gospel, the motif of the ‘messianic secret’ (as it is called) is a main element. The opening words of the gospel reveal Jesus’ identity to the reader as “son of God;” one of the ironies here is that no human character ever uses this title for Jesus while He was alive until the end of the story, when the most unlikely of persons (the centurion who had just crucified Him) proclaims Jesus as “son of God,” when He was already dead. In fact, the only ones who use/evoke this epithet throughout the story are supernatural beings like God and the demons. The human characters around Jesus, meanwhile - even His disciples, or should I say especially His disciples - are too thick (too ‘deaf’/too ‘blind’) to comprehend. Not that Jesus is of any help: He Himself (with one exception) silences those who dare proclaim His true identity or what He had just done.

All in all, Mark is a gospel laced with irony: first of all, as mentioned, there is one instance where Mark’s Jesus breaks the mold and actually commands the man he healed to tell everyone about it - and this was in gentile territory (the Gadarene demoniac). Secondly, when Jesus, under interrogation by the high priest, does finally own up to the title “son of the Blessed” (note that the high priest in Mark does not say “son of God”), He is “condemned as deserving death.” We can see here that for Mark, Jesus’ identity and Jesus’ fate are intertwined with one another: Jesus’ fate is sealed when the ‘messianic secret’ is finally broken. Thirdly, when the “young man” at the tomb tells the women to proclaim the news of Jesus’ resurrection to the disciples, they run away and “[say] nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” Mark’s gospel thus ends (the gospel most likely originally ended in 16:8; verses 9-20 are most likely an addition to this rather abrupt conclusion) in irony: whereas before, when Jesus commanded someone to hush up they still couldn’t stop blabbing about what He had done, now, when the “young man” orders the women to proclaim that Jesus has been raised, they are so afraid they couldn’t even speak!

I’d like to focus on the second point specifically. Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ (8:27-33; again, note, he doesn’t say “son of God” in this gospel!) is really the bridge between the first and the second half of the gospel, since immediately afterwards Jesus becomes increasingly fixated on His impending death. It is in the second half of the gospel that we begin to see the exact nature (for Mark) of Jesus’ Messiahship.

Note that immediately after Peter proclaims Jesus as the Messiah, we get the following:

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly.

Mark opens the following section with the words: “And he began to teach them.” It’s a bit of an odd narration, since Jesus has been teaching ever since the beginning of the story. It is as if the narrator is providing us a cue that we are now at a turning point. While in the first half of the gospel, Jesus speaks in confusing riddles (chapter 4), here there is no more time for parables: now Jesus is being painfully open and frank, but His words are no less mysterious and destabilizing. But what a sec. Didn’t Peter just say that Jesus was the Christ? What’s all this jabber about suffering and death?


#14

While Christians often expect that part of what it meant for Jesus to be “the Christ” was to suffer and die for the sins of the world, there was no such concept in the ancient world. In other words, the Jews did not seem to have any idea of God’s anointed dying an ignoble death. Now it is a bit inaccurate to speak of the ‘messianic expectation’ in a 1st century context since different people had different ideas about what the messiah (or for some, messiahs) would be like. But the one thing that the messianic figure is not supposed to do is to die - at least in a manner as humiliating and servile as a Roman crucifixion. He is the “anointed one,” not a slave or a common criminal.

So the Christian idea of looking at various bits and pieces of the Old Testament which talk about suffering figures (Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, etc.) and intepreting them in a messianic light is really a radical ‘innovation’, and a very odd one at that: it is unthinkable, ridiculous, even offensive to Jew and gentile alike (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23). Messiahs don’t suffer, nor do they get beaten or crucified. There’s no way that they could ever be. This is exactly the foolishness and the stumbling block Mark’s gospel is designed to overcome. And this is the reason why Mark chooses to make the ‘messianic secret’ and the idea of a Christ crucified two of his main themes.

As I’ve implied earlier, Mark doesn’t have a very good portrayal of the disciples: in fact, the disciples in Mark mainly come across as bumbling idiots (note: yet another key Markan theme!) who are so painfully blind to what’s happening in front of them that even Jesus seems to be annoyed/frustrated at them from time to time.

Mark has a total of three passion predictions in total within his gospel (8:31; 9:31; 10:33), which is one of its most obvious literary markers. Mark’s triple statement highlights the most important characterization of Jesus in this gospel: He is the suffering Son of Man. All the while, the author continues to emphasize just how blind and thick the disciples were.

And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Note that even though Mark says how “He spoke to them plainly,” they continue to misapprehend Him. In fact, their three reactions to Jesus’ distressed predictions are: to rebuke him (8:32), to argue among themselves about who was greatest (9:34), and to ask for privileges once Jesus receives his glory (10:37-40). The rebuke of Jesus by Peter in 8:32 expresses confusion, but the other two border on callousness. In the face of the imminent death of their Teacher, all they concern themselves with are their own rewards and security. The disciples in the narrative act as stand-ins for the original audiences, who would have also struggled with the idea of Jesus the Christ dying an ignoble death. Like Peter, they would have taken offense at the whole prospect.

Jesus, however, would have none of this: He turns around and scathingly rebukes Peter (and perhaps by implication, the others as well) in the open, even calling him “Satan.” A suffering messiah was not common sense at the time. It was not a “thing of man.” All of which shows that God does not believe in ‘common sense’.

To drive the point home further, Jesus then addresses “the crowd” that had somehow showed up:

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

This is more in line with what a messiah is supposed to do: come in glory with the angels. We see here the full pattern which informs parts of Mark, as well as the entire gospel: a correct identification of Jesus; a charge of secrecy; a correction of a misunderstanding about the necessity of suffering; and a promise of future, eschatological glory and reward. The promise of future glory is further emphasized by the pericope immediately following it: that of the transfiguration.

The transfiguration episode in Mark functions as a proleptic portrait of the way Jesus will be transformed after His death into glory in the resurrection. But since that glorification hasn’t happened yet, Mark recalls the messianic secret motif. “He charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.” There would be no crown without a cross, so Mark returns the emphasis to the upcoming death of Jesus and the need for secrecy in the meantime, almost as if Jesus must teach people a new, different notion of the relation between the Messiah and glory. While everyone thinks that the Messiah will simply be all triumph and glory as he gains dominion over the earth, what Jesus has to teach them is that the anointed one must first experience suffering before he could enjoy the rewards of glory. We now have one answer for why Jesus is so big on silence in Mark’s gospel, and especially in this pericope: so that He can teach everyone a new notion of what the Messiah will be and do by dying first.


#15

patrick457:

First, thanks for your research regarding the use of the cross and early Christian art.

I also wanted to point you toward this recent article discussing Mark and the secret messiah motif.

A brief blurb from the article that summarizes one critic’s problem with the idea that Jesus had to command secrecy regarding his role as a messiah.

*In other words, if Jesus needs to educate the disciples about the proper kind of messiah, one who must suffer and die, then why not explain it to them? That isn’t an idle question; it goes to the very heart of the matter.

Furthermore, if Jesus is afraid of people getting the “wrong idea” about him, wanting to exalt him as king, which is not at all what he really wants, then what in the world is the entry into Jerusalem all about? *


#16

Thanks for the link. William Wrede, I should note, was the first person to identify the ‘messianic secret’ motif in Mark’s gospel. I actually find the whole series rather intruiging.


#17

Against the proposition that Jews would not accept a messiah that had suffered and died we have the testimony recorded in Acts that within two months of Jesus’s execution thousands of Jews did exactly that.


#18

Moses represented law, the 10. Elijah represented the prophets. They both were on the mount where God was in the old testiment. Jesus now is the new covenant which they acknowledge on this mount. Jesus dosen't want to let this new covenant to go into effect immediately, and therefore only wants this revealed after his death and resurrection when it goes into effect.

Just a guess.


#19

Yes, but the clincher is that Christians claimed that Jesus did not stay dead for long because God vindicated Him by raising Him up. If Christians simply said that Jesus died shamefully, end of story, no one would have bothered to follow them. The Resurrection is the key factor here.


#20

Where was it prophesied that the messiah would be raised from the dead? For that matter, weren’t the Apostles claiming much more than messiahship for Jesus; weren’t they claiming that Jesus was God incarnated? I’m no expert, but I’ve been given to believe that Jews would not be OK with that claim. In other words, it was not blasphemous for a man to claim to be the messiah, but it was blasphemous for a man to claim to be God.

How did the Apostles prove to other Jews that Jesus had risen from the dead? Did the Jews just take their word for that? Did the Apostles show them the empty tomb? IIRC, grave robbery was a capital offense under the Romans, so if the Apostles had an empty tomb to display, might not the Romans have had some questions about that?

How was it even possible for the Apostles – known followers of a man who had recently been executed by the Romans for sedition – to openly recruit thousands of new members right under the noses of his executioners? Were the Romans that clueless?

Please don’t feel obligated to answer any of these questions. I’m just giving you a sense of some of the things that don’t make sense to me.


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