God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God (Part 1)

We have focused on the importance of the Divine Name revealed by God to Moses. We have seen the importance of names and naming in the Scriptures. We have meditated upon the intimacy of revealing God’s name to Moses as it both discloses the deepest mystery of God and creates a relationship with Him. Jesus was questioned by many to whom He ministered, and by many of His enemies. They wanted to know just who He was. Jesus answers their questions first by fulfilling the prophecies of the work of the Messiah: He heals, He expels demons, He interprets the Law and the Scriptures with authority, He commands nature, He forgives sin. All of these actions point to the establishment of the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom that is planted in a sinful world just as a grain of wheat is planted in the earth.

But Jesus also explicitly reveals who He is in other ways. As He was on His last pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the journey also known as the Exodus of the Lord, we are told in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke that Jesus went up to Mount Tabor where He was transfigured, appearing between Moses and the Prophet Elijah. This is significant: the two figures of the Passover appear with Jesus and “While (Jesus) was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:29-31)

It is here that we experience, along with Peter, James and John, the full reality of the Lord Jesus. As He was praying, His divinity finally broke through His humanity and was revealed to His three closest disciples. Moses appears alongside the Lord, the great figure of the first Exodus, the Lawgiver of Israel and the one who established the first earthly sanctuary where God dwelt among His People. Moses had spoken to God while on the Exodus journey: “The LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as one man speaks to another.” (Exodus 33:11) The radiant glory of God was such that Moses could not be looked at directly after these encounters with God: “Whenever Moses entered the presence of the LORD to converse with him, he removed the veil until he came out again. On coming out, he would tell the Israelites all that had been commanded. Then the Israelites would see that the skin of Moses' face was radiant; so he would again put the veil over his face until he went in to converse with the LORD.” (Exodus 34:34-35) It is this divine light that is now experienced not just by Moses but by Peter, James and John, the Light that radiated from the depths of Jesus’ divinity!

The Prophet Elijah also appeared and was speaking with the Lord. Elijah was the prophet that had been taken to heaven in a whirlwind, the prophet whose return was expected by the Jewish People, a return that would signal the coming of the Messiah. And now here he was, speaking with Jesus! The Prophet anxiously awaited at every Passover table appears at the time that Jesus was going up to Jerusalem to experience His own Passover and Exodus. This was meant to confirm Jesus’ Passion, death and resurrection as the Passover into a new life of mercy and resurrection for God’s People. Elijah’s appearance confirmed to the three disciples that Jesus is not only God, but the long-awaited Messiah.

Saint Paul sums up this mystery in the Letter to the Hebrews: “In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe, who is the refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being, and who sustains all things by his mighty word. When he had accomplished purification from sins, he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high, as far superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” (Hebrews 1:1-4)

This is an important moment in the revelation of the nature, mission and identity of Jesus. In the Gospel of John, we also have explicit confirmation of Jesus’ divinity from Jesus Himself. As we have seen, the Name of God was revealed for the first time in salvation history to Moses, “I am, who am” (Exodus 3:14). The Name I AM is the great revelation to God’s People. So sacred is this Name that out of reverence when the Scriptures were being read, it was replaced by a title, “The Lord,” “The Holy One,” etc. In the Gospel of John, Jesus takes this Name for Himself. He explicitly identifies Himself with the Divine Name, and thus He reveals His divine nature! We will explore this revelation in our next meditation. Until then, we can meditate on this mystery and pray this portion of the Divine Praises:

Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.