In Matins this morning for the Transfiguration, I was taken by the relationship of light and sound at the Transfiguration as recorded in Matthew 17:1-9. Peter, James and John taken apart from the other disciples by Jesus suddenly see the light emanating from Christ: Jesus’ “face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” As stunning a scene as that may have been, it is not until the Father speaks, “This is my beloved Son… listen to him,” that the three disciples are terrified and fall down on their faces in absolute fear. They were able to see the sight but are knocked off their feet when they hear God speak.
Were they perhaps experiencing in some manner what Genesis 1:3 reports ?
And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
The voice of God, His Word, creates the light which shines even though the sun has not yet been created in Genesis 1. It is the voice of God which is so powerfully creative. God’s Voice/Word creates light, but it is not the light, it is the Voice/Word which sweeps the disciples off their feet.
Standing outside in the sunlight on the top of a mountain as the disciples were doing, it would take a pretty significant light to outshine the sun and capture the attention of the disciples. And that is the kind of light they saw; the light shining forth from the transfigured Christ is not sunlight but the light God called into existence as the first creative act of the Creator.
How mighty and fearful is the vision seen today!
The visible sun shone from heaven,
but from the earth shone incomparably upon Mount Tabor
The spiritual Sun of Righteousness. (Matins Canon Canticle 6)
The matins hymns reflect the mystery which the three apostles saw:
The invisible has no become visible to the apostles:
The Godhead shone out before them in the flesh. (Canticle 7)
Christ was fully visible to the disciples, but now suddenly they see in Him something which had been hidden from their eyes: His transfigured appearance reveals what is always true about Christ but not always visible, even to His select followers.
The unheard of has now been heard,
For the Sun who came forth from the Virgin without a father,
Receives glorious testimony from His Father’s voice
That He is both God and man, throughout all ages. (Matins Canticle 7)
There was no one to hear the voice of God the Father when He first spoke light into existence in Genesis 1. But now the disciples looking at this light hear the voice of God! “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,” (1 Corinthians 2:9). The transfiguration of Christ was indeed prepared for those who love him. And the disciples saw and heard what God had prepared for humanity from the beginning: “that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).
For other blogs on the Transfiguration see my Tablets of Stone: Do Not Petrify the Word of God, The Transfiguration of the Son of God: Listen to Him, The Transfiguration: Man Fulfilling His Mission and Feast Days: Signs of God’s Coming Kingdom