Beholding, Changed, Transformed
"And after six days Jesus taketh with Him Peter, and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: and He was transfigured before them; and His face did shine as the sun, and His garments became while as the light ... and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him" (Matthew 17: 1, 2, 5).
"We all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit" (or, "the Spirit which is the Lord") (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The link between the two passages lies in one word, unfortunately slightly obscured in translation. In the King James Version it is "are changed into the same image"; in the Revised, "are transformed into the same image." The revisers certainly have made a slight improvement on the other, and perhaps with a fine sensibility, or sense of fitness, they avoided putting the true translation, and made this slight change into "transformed." The fact remains that we have the same Greek word here as that which is used to describe what happened on that Mount - "and He was transfigured before them." That is the same word exactly as is here translated alternatively "changed" or "transfigured into the same image." So that the children of God have a transfiguration, even as the Lord Jesus had. His was an event, an act; a thing, shall we say, as of a moment. We do not know how long it lasted, but it was at a definite time point. Ours is a long process; indeed, right from the beginning of our Christian life to its climax, this is what is supposed to be going on with us: we are being "transfigured into the same image, from glory to glory."
The Outshining of the Glory of A Perfect Man
That at once is very challenging to us, for Christian history, life, progress. There may be - and I am always conscious of being on very delicate ground in making any comparison between the Lord Jesus and ourselves - there may be something different about Him. It has been said that the transfiguration was the outshining of His Deity, and I have no quarrel with that; if that was so, all right; it does not affect the issue at all. But we have reason to believe that it was something other than that also - that it was the perfecting of His humanity, and the outshining of the glory of an absolutely Perfect Man. We do believe, and we feel we have ground for believing, that something like that was God's intention for all men, when He said, "Let us make man in our own image." And when there is so much in the Word about the glory and the glorifying which is the consummation of our pilgrimage, surely there is something in the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus which is not altogether isolated from what the Lord intends for us.
That is where I would put the emphasis in our present consideration; that is the point. Indeed, in an earlier meditation on this matter we said this very thing. We said that the glory which took hold of Him, and emanated from Him, filled Him, an transfigured Him, was the glory of His personality as utterly satisfying to God. For God's satisfaction is always the ground of glory wherever you look in the Bible. Whenever you find in any place that state of things with which God can be well pleased, you will find the glory there - the glory fills and breaks forth. That is supremely the case in the Lord Jesus, and that is why at this point the voice from Heaven attested Him, marked Him out, and said, "... in Whom I am well pleased." The Father was completely satisfied.
(continued with # 21)