Most of us are more familiar with grumpy expressions. Nobody likes a sourpuss, but let’s face it, with all the stress and anxiety many of us deal with on a regular basis it is not uncommon for us to walk around with a stern face. We shouldn’t, I know, but we do.
In Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians he speaks of how in our earthly lives what we see is but a poor reflection, “as in a mirror”, but that when we die and meet the Lord “we shall see face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12). I think Paul was referring to how we don’t see the Divine Indwelling clearly in our daily lives. But God is inside us and God can radiate a light through us to others.
Jesus had a few disciples that he chose to walk with him and learn from him. Among those twelve apostles were three we might call the “inner circle”. It seemed Jesus wanted Peter, John and his brother James to experience certain special moments. One day on a mountain where Jesus Christ went to pray he took these three men along with him. There he revealed to them his bright and shining divine face in what we call the Transfiguration. Three of the Gospels record this (Matthew 17:1-3; Mark 9:2-3; Luke 9:28-29). Luke’s gospel tells us that “as he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” Furthermore, two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus.
It might be hard for us to imagine the impact of this event on the three apostles. Moses and Elijah were highly revered by the Jewish people. Both Old Testament prophets were prominent in the scriptures and their appearance woke up the sleepy Peter and his companions. Surely they were overwhelmed by it all. Peter even remarked to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters: one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (Luke 9:33). It’s interesting that the writer of Luke mentions that Peter did not know what he was saying.
If we read deeper into this perhaps we are to recognize how any of us, in the company of a great spiritual revelation, need to merely be in humble awe and maybe even keep our mouths shut. I can’t say I blame Peter for his response. But there was something happening that went well beyond the day-to-day experience of the apostles, even with all they were witnessing from the Lord (miracles, healing and teaching). They were getting a preview of Jesus Christ, Lord and God, in radiant glory. They were seeing face to face.
Other Shining Moments
The Transfiguration of Jesus is not completely unique in the Bible. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony (Exodus 29) his face was radiant. Although he wasn’t aware of it, his appearance alarmed the Israelites. The Bible records that his face was radiant because Moses had spoken with God.
Then there is Stephen, another early fervent disciple and one of the first martyrs of the church (“a man full of God’s grace and power” (Acts 6:8). He also had his face change while he was debating religious leaders in the Sanhedrin. They looked at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel (Acts 6:15). Did it shine with God’s love? Apparently his face looked remarkable. What is the face of an angel? We might speculate that it shines.
If we let go to God’s great love and follow Jesus and truly align our wills with the Holy Spirit’s inspiration we are bound to be full of grace. That grace, love and faith will be evident, both in our actions and in our face.
What do others see in your face? Can they see enthusiasm, compassion and joy?
A radiant face full of the love of God must be a powerful and inspiring thing. Consider yourself blessed if you see it. You and I are not likely to encounter such a thing as a common occurrence in our lives. Nevertheless, we can let love shine in our faces; we can, as the hymn goes, let our light shine (This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine).