How do you think Jesus, if he were present in human form, would be covered in the media compared to the transcendent figures of today? I just read online articles about two of today's most well-known individuals. Oprah Winfrey and Tom Brady have experienced sustained success at the top of their professions for decades. Oprah has achieved a level of success that her first name alone is recognizable worldwide. And Tom Brady just won his record-setting 5th Super Bowl with the New England Patriots, at the age of 39! In the Gospel today we see Jesus in a "transcendent" moment.
Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, "Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Rise, and do not be afraid." And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.
As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, "Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead." Matthew 17:1-9
Jesus' inner circle got an unprecedented look at history. Two of the most famous figures of their storied past appear beside the transfigured Jesus. And if that wasn't enough, the voice of God Himself speaks of His Son. The disciples were overwhelmed to the point of falling face down on the ground in fear.
I can't say I blame them. What happened next was to me the most surprising part. Jesus instructs the disciples not to say anything. No Tweets! No Instagram posts!! Nothing!!! Imagine their thoughts. "We have to wait to say anything about who we saw? Whom we heard?? Who you are, Lord???" How utterly antithetical to today's culture. Jesus didn't need nor want a PR machine promoting who He was. In fact, He often sought to move around somewhat anonymously. In spite of this, the crowds still found Him. Word still got around about this amazing person.
That is the difference. Like Oprah and Tom Brady, Jesus was an amazing person. And as all humans eventually do, He died. But Jesus' life was just the beginning. Unlike the transcendent of today, His death, resurrection and ascension are what ultimately matter. What the disciples saw on the mountain that day long ago prefigured THE truly transcendent figure who is alive today and forever. You and I need to share that news as often as possible.