“And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.” (Mark 9:9)
When Jesus made His way to the cross and when He suffered horribly on that cross, appearing to be nothing more than a tortured man undergoing capital punishment, was He really at that moment still the very Son of God, the One by whom the world was made? There have been those in the history of Christianity who because of “reason” could not accept that the man being tortured to death was indeed very God of very God. They conjured a doctrine from their own imagination, declaring that when He suffered and died, the Son of God left the body of Jesus, and it was only a man who suffered horribly on that cursed tree. After all, how could it be that it was God who was suffering and bleeding to death?
With three eye-witness apostles Jesus climbed the Mountain where He would be transfigured, and to the eye-witnesses when they climbed that mountain He appeared to be only a man—albeit a great man. However on that Mount of Transfiguration Jesus the man was identified as the very Son of God. He was first identified as God when He began to glow with the brightness of the sun. God is light and in Him there is no darkness; Jesus glowed with unborrowed, unapproachable light. God the Father then further identified Jesus as His eternal Son by acclaiming, This is my beloved Son [9:7]. It had to be made clear that the man Jesus even when He did not appear to be God is nonetheless fully God.
When the Son of God became man, though He entered the State of Humiliation and thus did not fully use His divine powers communicated to His human nature, He never ceased to be fully God. Our Lord’s Transfiguration was a reminder of this reality. He is also, on the other hand, fully human. He was tempted as we are. As a man He suffered pain, and more than once He wept. He would, as His ultimate goal in His State of Humiliation, die on the cross.
When He climbed that mountain called Golgotha, carrying His cross, He appeared to be only a man. When he bled, thirsted and cried out in agony, He appeared to be only a man. When finally He died, He appeared to be only a man. The Mount of Transfiguration should have been a reminder to the three eye-witnesses that all along His path of sorrows, He never ceased to be the beloved Son of God. Later Apostolic attestation would confirm this fact, that for instance it was God who bled, and by His infinitely valuable life-blood the Son of God purchased His bride, the Church. Thus pastors are urged …to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. [Acts 20:28b]. God’s blood made the purchase. When the Romans and the Jewish leaders put Jesus to death, they did not realize they were killing the Lord of glory, as St. Paul explains, None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory [2 Cor 2:8]. It was indeed the Lord of glory who was crucified; how else could the world’s sins be atoned for, unless God did it?
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus would be the ultimate attestation that He is the eternal Son of God. St. Paul explained to the Romans that Jesus …was declared to be the Son of God…by His resurrection from the dead [1:4]. When He walked this earth and appeared to be only a man, and when at His death He appeared to be only a man—these were not yet the times to declare His full deity. But on the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus identified the logical time when His identity as God could be shared: …He charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead [v 9]. Now, share the fact that God’s beloved Son, the Lord of glory who shines with the glory of the sun, has purchased our salvation with His own blood…the blood of God. Share the fact that from His conception and forever He is God, for He is risen from the dead and lives and reigns to all eternity.