Jesus was extraordinarily ordinary. At least his humanity was. He was nobody that we should’ve made a big fuss about. He was born into poverty, not prowess. He was raised in mediocrity, not superiority. He conducted his ministry among the peasants and had little to do with the politicians. One might simply use the word “meek” to describe the circumstances of Jesus’ humanity. Yet even in the meekness of Jesus’ humanity, he was no less than the Son of God. This meekness is what makes the Incarnation of Christ so significant. He was willing to humble Himself, leaving behind the glory and splendor of heaven for a temporary sojourn on this earth.
This made Jesus approachable. Prior to Jesus, God was not easily accessible. Drawing near to God often meant certain doom. From Sinai to the Holy of Holies, you didn’t approach God without a clear invitation. Yet in Jesus, we see ailing women reaching out to touch Him. We see Gentiles beseeching Him for help. We see children climbing into His lap. Jesus was God, but by His grace, He put on flesh and walked in our shoes. The danger in this is that we forget His glory in the midst of his approachability.
In Mark 9, we are reminded in a powerful way that Jesus was more than just a Galilean carpenter. He was and will always be God. After Jesus and his inner circle of disciples ascended a high mountain, we are told that Jesus’ appearance changed. His dingy garments became sparkling white, and for these few moments, the glory of Jesus returned while he visited with two heroes of the faith – Moses & Elijah
The Transfiguration gives us a brief, yet compelling reminder of who it is that we serve. Jesus isn’t a good man, a teacher, or a prophet – He is God. And as God, He shares His glory with no one. That is the mistake Peter made. Instead of keeping his mouth shut and reflecting on the significance of this event, he spoke up and offered to build three tents – one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. By doing so, he was implying some level of equality among them. Don’t get me wrong, as awesome as it would be to see Moses and Elijah, they’re not God. They’ve seen God, but they’re not God.
We must be careful that we do not share the glory of Christ with any created thing. There is nothing that compares, nothing that even comes close. Jesus did live here, in our midst for more than three decades, but His home now is in heaven, and the next time we see Jesus, He will not be a humble carpenter, but a mighty Savior.
In Romans 1:22-23, Paul accurately diagnoses our tendency, “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” That’s all idolatry is, sharing the glory of God with some other thing. The addict gives glory to the drug. The adulterer gives glory to the other person. The alcoholic gives glory to the drink. The glutton gives glory to the food. The prideful man gives glory to himself.
But the truth is that there is only One who is worthy to receive glory. The Psalmist said, “Not to us, Lord, but to Your name be glory…” We behold that glory for just a moment on the Mount of Transfiguration. One day we shall behold that glory forever and ever in the face of Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria!