I wonder how you picture Jesus? Most of have a mental image of a chap with a beard and long hair, oatmeal-coloured tunic and deeply compassionate eyes. Perhaps not too far wide of the mark – but even if your image is different, it is probably a very human Jesus.
And that’s a good thing: God became one of us, and Jesus’ humanity lies at the heart of our good news. It helps us relate to Jesus as a friend, and also to follow him, because we can visualise him as a human who was wholly obedient to God.
But there is another side to the story. Jesus is also the Son of God, who carries the glory of heaven. When St John saw him in heaven, in the famous vision which begins the book of Revelation, Jesus’ appearance was so glorious, so dazzling, John could do nothing else but fall on his face in awe and worship.
This is the Jesus we will all one day meet, and I hope that we will all experience that same sense of joyful awe at the experience. But a few human beings were fortunate to see it when Jesus was on earth – and the story of that experience is our passage for today. Peter, James and John were taken by Jesus up a high mountain, and there Jesus gave them a glimpse of glory: ‘there he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white… Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him.”’
Wow! It must have been overwhelming; in fact we know it was, because Peter starts gibbering about shelters for Jesus’ heavenly guests. For a few minutes they got a vision of the divine Son, of Jesus as he really is, carrying the majesty of God himself.
It is good to imagine a human Jesus. But there are times when we need to remember how glorious Jesus is. A human Jesus helps us to pray for ourselves. A divine, glorious Jesus helps us to pray for the world, inspired by the knowledge that we worship an awesome God. May the glory of Jesus fill your heart today, and increase your faith to pray, in the precious name of the Divine Son.