Christ Over Compartmentalization

About eight days after this conversation, he took along Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly, two men were talking with him—Moses and Elijah. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.

Peter and those with him were in a deep sleep, and when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men who were standing with him. As the two men were departing from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it’s good for us to be here. Let us set up three shelters: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he was saying.

While he was saying this, a cloud appeared and overshadowed them. They became afraid as they entered the cloud. Then a voice came from the cloud, saying: “This is my Son, the Chosen One; listen to him!”

After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They kept silent, and at that time told no one what they had seen.

-- Luke 9:28-36

In this miraculous event called The Transfiguration, Jesus peels back the curtain, as it were, to show Peter, James, and John a glimpse at his glorious fullness. It is as if Jesus has just opened the door up into heaven, just for a bit, in order to confirm his deity to his followers and to encourage them for what lay just ahead in his ministry—namely, his crucifixion.

The appearance of Moses and Elijah beside the Lord Jesus in this revelatory moment is not incidental. Moses represents for God’s people the Law, with all its depictions and demands of righteousness. Elijah represents for God’s people the Prophets, with all their forecasts and expectations of righteousness come to bear. There stands Christ Jesus alongside the Law and the Prophets.

Peter’s inclination is a lot like ours. He is thinking with a compartmentalized spirituality. He wants to put up three tents, one for each of them. If we imagine our own lives—with all of its demands and responsibilities and expectations—we tend to have the same approach. We imagine our life like a calendar or a To Do list. Jesus gets a position in the charts of our schedule. He gets the “spiritual” slot; he fills the “religion” box.

A friend of mine gives a great illustration about how we think of our lives like a big conference table. Around the table sit the representatives of each aspect of our lives. There’s a seat for our Career self, a seat for our Sexual self, a seat for our Hobbies and Interests, a seat for our Family, etc. Then we “accept” Jesus into our life. We give him a seat at the table. Jesus fills our Religious self, we imagine.

But this is not how Jesus operates. He is the fulfillment and satisfaction of every part of our self, and so he deserves the ruling seat over all of our selves! Jesus does not require a part of our life, but our whole life. So, my friend says, Jesus comes in salvation and effectively fires everybody at the table. Now we’ve really accepted him.

When the glorious smoke clears in the Transfiguration event, Moses and Elijah are gone. “Jesus was found alone” (v.36). This is because the demands of the Law and the expectations of the Prophets are all fulfilled in him. He is the summation of every obligation and the satisfaction of every need.