The last Sunday in Epiphany is always Transfiguration Sunday, the Sunday where the focus is Jesus being transfigured or, as the Greek says it, ‘metamorphosed (I don’t think that is a new word)’. In simple words, Jesus is changed.
I think it is interesting that each gospel account has a different way to describe how Jesus looked. This year, in the Gospel according to Mark, his clothes are described as ‘intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them (ESV, 9:3).’ Matthew’s description could be connected to creation (17:2), while Luke’s could be connected to another person (9:29). And Mark’s description could be connected to, of all things, a CANDIDATE!
Since most of the media is talking about politics these days, I thought I would join in as well.
If I knew this before, I had forgotten it—that the word ‘candidate’ comes from the Latin word, ‘candidus’, meaning ‘white’. It described the white toga that candidates would wear when they ran for a political office in ancient Rome. (Since this gospel account was written in Rome, I would think that this is a deliberate connection.)
I hope no one thinks that the ancient Roman politicians were extremely nice people and that we have devolved into a very cruel and ‘heartless’ society. Politics has ALWAYS been political. (Et tu, Brute?)
I can imagine young senators wanting to get their toga the whitest so that they would literally stand out amongst the rest. I can also imagine those people paying a lot of money to do that.
But what is that compared to our Lord and how he looked on that day? Any talk about Jesus—or even simply God—helps to keep things in perspective.
In our two-party system in America, we depend on CIVIL conflict—since we are part of a civilized society, much like the Romans. The conflict between those two parties should often resolve itself into a positive outcome for many, if not all.
It might be nice sometimes to retreat to the mountains and have a vision of Jesus in his intensely white garments. But he certainly did not stay up there very long. And, when he finally came down from the mountain, went up to the cross, and then he went down into the tomb. There were a lot of things on his calendar!
After Jesus rose from the dead, many people who wanted to see him were not able—and that still is true today.
But his unique and precious promises also still hold true in today’s reality.