January 25, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Luke 9:28-31 (NRSV)
Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
The disciples of Jesus were able to catch a glimpse of his heavenly glory. You and I probably won’t get to see this with our physical eyes, but we are able to perceive God’s glory in nature, in loving community, in acts of forgiveness, justice, and mercy. But, the most amazing thing of all is that God, through the Spirit, is transforming us right now into the image of Christ’s own glory. What a wonder!
Today’s devotion is part of the series Following Jesus Today.
When I’m on vacation, I love to get up early, while it’s still dark. My goal is to be able to sit in some naturally beautiful place and watch the sunrise. I love catching a glimpse of the sun as it just begins to peek above the horizon. (Today’s photo is from a trip my family and I took to Central California.)
There’s something about that first glimpse of the sun that I find deeply moving. My feelings have to do with the quietness of the morning, the freshness of the air, the distinctive quality of the light. But seeing the sun in that way as it glows in the distance stirs my soul.
I wonder if that’s how Peter, John, and James felt when they witnessed the so-called “transfiguration” of Jesus. They had gone out to a mountain at Jesus’s invitation, presumably to join him in prayer. This happened sometime during the night or early morning, since Luke mentions that the disciples were “weighed down with sleep” (9:32). While Jesus was praying, all of a sudden “the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white” (Luke 9:29). Then, he was joined by Moses and Elijah, who “appeared in glory” (Luke 9:31). Peter, shaken out of his sleepy stupor, offered to build some shelters for the three glowing men (Luke 9:33). (Parenthetically, I love this response of Peter. It’s so sweet and candid, showing both care and confusion.) But Peter’s offer was interrupted by a voice from heaven saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” (Luke 9:35). When the voice stopped speaking, everything returned to normal.
Don’t you wish you could have been there on that mountain? Wouldn’t it have been amazing to catch a glimpse of Jesus’s heavenly glory? I’m not sure my response would have been any better than Peter’s, mind you. But I would have been moved by what I was seeing even more than when I witness a vacation sunrise.
It’s unlikely that you and I will ever see Jesus in his glowing glory this side of the age to come. But God does bless us with glimpses of his glory at times. Yes, we can see divine glory in the natural beauty of God’s creation. We get a peek of God’s glory when the people of God are united in worship and loving service. We see the glory of God most clearly and profoundly in Jesus, who, according to the Gospel of John, is the very Word of God Incarnate. “And we have seen his glory,” John writes, “the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
But if you really want to be astounded by God’s glory, look at what Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18). To me, this is one of the most astounding and wondrous verses in all of Scripture. It says that we, yes “all of us,” including you and I, can see “the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror.” What? A mirror? Surely it can’t be a mirror facing us because that would mean we are reflecting the very glory of God. But that’s exactly what Paul means. We learn this in the next phrase. As we see God’s glory in a mirror, we “are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” Not “we will one day be transformed,” but we “are being transformed” now, in the present.
Right now, through the Spirit, God is at work in us, changing us into the glorious image of Christ. When you choose to love in a costly way, when you seek God’s kingdom rather than your own success, when you forgive one who has wronged you, when you offer your whole life to God in worship, then you catch a glimpse of God’s glory, not out there on the horizon or out there in the future, but right where you are, right now, in you. What a wonder!
What are some of the most glorious things you have ever seen with your eyes?
When in your life have you had a sense of God’s glory?
How do you respond to the idea that God is transforming you into the glorious image of Christ?
With a wise friend or with your small group, talk about your experiences of God’s glory.
Lord Jesus, I wish I could have been there with Peter, John, and James as you were transfigured. It would have been amazing to catch a glimpse of your glory.
Thank you for the hints I get of your glory in this life: the splendor of a sunrise, the loveliness of sacrificial service, the elegance of your people gathered in worship. And thank you for the wondrous truth that you are changing me into the image of your glory even now, through your Spirit.
O Lord, may it happen more and more as I offer all that I am to you. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: The Transfiguration
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
Good as always, Mark, I have really enjoyed this series on Jesus.
Tom Wright, in Reflecting the Glory, suggests (looking at 2 Cor 3:18) that Christians behold the glory of God as they look at one another. “The Spirit has worked in their hearts; whether they know it or not, they are reflecting the glory of the Lord.”