Are Jesus and the gospel story true? And what makes it so? Many people who’ve never known God and think Jesus is anything from a simple prophet to a myth will think the gospel story’s been made up. To them it might be interesting but it’s far from ‘fact.’ Christians believe it is fact. And I know many Christians who’re intelligent and not easily fooled, which leads me to think there’s more to it than merely story.
The Bible addresses this quandary in many different ways. I thought I’d focus on part of Peter’s account.
Can you imagine being Peter witnessing the Mount of Transfiguration event as portrayed in Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke? He saw Jesus both in the presence of, and heralded by, the chief prophet, Elijah, and the chief law-giver, Moses, as they proclaimed–with God the Father overseeing and giving his own testimony to the event–Jesus’ anointing in fulfilling the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17; 7:12) as Israel’s coveted, yet later rejected, Messiah.
And Peter proclaims this in his second letter, crucially propounding the God-inspiration of both the event and the prophesy that foretold Jesus’ coming, and importantly reinforcing his apostolic authority as one of only three eye-witnesses to the event beyond question:
“We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.' We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain” -2 Peter 1:16-18 (NIV).
And we too are witnesses of his glory through the experience in our own lives. Jesus, by his will and ours (i.e. our belief), broke in and revealed his fullness to us, his glory never-ending. We truly could not appreciate it fully and still can’t. This is not an experience we can explain nor can others relate with, until the personal revelation takes place for the very first time. Then we get it.
It’s at this point that “the story” that many unbelieving people think is fictitious becomes a fervent and pulsing reality for us. Like Jesus was, we too have been transfigured!-and that-spiritually, mentally, emotionally. Suddenly we’re alive to the motioning of the Spirit; our blindness has receded. We begin to see beyond this life and into eternity.
How could we not share this good news? This story of truth is bound to the reality of our changed lives of compassion, empathy, good humour and good cheer. We are not blown by the prevailing winds; we’re directed on the course of truth and grace. We finally begin living the way we always wanted to live.
The “story” makes sense only when our doubts evaporate enough to be open to belief; this is when Jesus-the real Person via the Holy Spirit-is able, finally, to make a home within me or you.
We are destined for our very own Mount of Transfiguration (and many of them) if our hearts and minds are open to receive the Presence of God in Jesus. We have a God of personal transfiguration and transformation in our midst.
In him, for ourselves, we can do the openly impossible and immeasurable. What was once beyond us now becomes, of itself, transfigured and transformed. Many difficult things lay ahead of us, yet with his help, our relative mastery over these proves his existence and Presence with us.
And the things we cannot change, which served only to frustrate us; these are dealt with such that our hearts find it accepting to live and let live. Peace abounds in him who saves us.
 Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:7 and Luke 9:35 also speak of this event.
Steve Wickham is a Registered Safety Practitioner (BSc, MSIA, RSP) and a qualified, unordained Christian minister (GradDipBib&Min).