Jesus’ face changes (Lk 9:29-9:29)

“While Jesus

Was praying,

The appearance

Of his face

Changed.

His clothes

Became dazzling white.”

 

καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ προσεύχεσθαι αὐτὸν τὸ εἶδος τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ ἕτερον καὶ ὁ ἱματισμὸς αὐτοῦ λευκὸς ἐξαστράπτων.

 

Luke said that while Jesus was praying (καὶ ἐγένετο ἐν τῷ προσεύχεσθαι αὐτὸν), the appearance of his face changed or altered (τὸ εἶδος τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ ἕτερον).  Also, his clothes became dazzling white (καὶ ὁ ἱματισμὸς αὐτοῦ λευκὸς ἐξαστράπτων).  This description of the face and clothing of Jesus can be found in all 3 synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 17:2, Mark, chapter 9:3, and here in Luke, but there are minor differences in all 3 accounts.  Mark said that Jesus was transfigured in front of the 3 apostles.  There was a metamorphosis, as the appearance of Jesus changed right before their very eyes.  There was no mention of the face of Jesus changing, as in Matthew and Luke.  However, Mark indicated that Jesus’ clothes or garments became a dazzling white, so white that not even any cleaner on earth could bleach them any whiter.  Matthew also said that Jesus was transfigured in front of the 3 apostles.  He said that Jesus’ face was shining like the sun, just like what happened to Moses, in Exodus, chapter 34:35.  There the face of Moses was so bright that he had to put a veil on after talking to Yahweh, before he could talk to Aaron, his brother.  Jesus’ clothes or garments also became a dazzling white, like a bright light or white snow.  Suddenly, the human Jesus seemed more brightly divine.  White and light were good, while black and darkness were bad.  What is the whitest white that you have seen?

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Darkness (Wis 17:1-17:6)

“Great are your judgments.

They are hard to describe.

Therefore uninstructed souls have gone astray.

When lawless people supposed

That they held the holy nation in their power,

They themselves lay as captives of darkness.

They were prisoners of a long night.

They were shut in under their roofs.

They were exiles from eternal providence.

Thinking that in their secret sins

They were unobserved

Behind a dark curtain of forgetfulness,

They were scattered.

They were terribly alarmed.

They were appalled by specters.

Not even the inner chamber

That held them

Protected them from fear.

But terrifying sounds rang out around them.

Dismal phantoms with gloomy faces appeared.

No power of fire was able to give light.

Nor did the brilliant flames of the stars avail

To illumine that hateful night.

Nothing was shining through to them,

Except a dreadful,

Self-kindled fire.

In terror

They deemed the things which

That they saw

To be worse

Than that unseen appearance.”

This is an ode to God’s power, whose great judgment is hard to describe. The uninstructed have gone astray. The lawless (ἄνομοι) refers to Egypt, while the holy nation (ἔθνος ἅγιον) is Israel. These uninstructed lawless ones (Egypt) thought that they had the holy nation in their power. However, they were the captives of darkness. They were prisoners of the long night as they were under their own roof. They were exiles from divine providence. They thought that their secret sins would be forgotten. However, they were scattered, alarmed, and appalled. They were full of fear (ἀφόβως) in this darkness. They heard terrifying sounds and saw visions (φάσματα) of gloomy ghost faces. No fire was able to break this darkness. Nothing was shining on them except their own fear. They actually thought that things were worse than what they appeared to be.

The traceless end of the unjust (Wis 5:9-5:13)

“All those things have vanished

Like a shadow.

They have vanished

Like a rumor that passes by.

They are

Like a ship that sails through the billowy water.

When it has passed

No trace can be found.

There is no track of its keel in the waves.

When a bird flies through the air,

No evidence of its passage is found.

The light air,

Lashed by the beat of its pinions,

Pierced by the force of its rushing flight,

Is traversed

By the movement of its wings.

Afterward no sign of its coming is found there.

When an arrow is shot at a target,

The air,

Thus divided,

Comes together at once.

Thus no one knows its pathway.

So we also,

As soon as we were born,

Ceased to be.

We had no sign of virtue to show.

But we were consumed in our wickedness.”

The ungodly and unjust have disappeared like a shadow. Here now, but gone when the sun stops shining. They are like a rumor that vanishes almost instantaneously. They are like a ship going in the sea. Once it is gone, there is no way to trace its path. The same is true on the bird in the air. Once gone, you are never sure of its precise path. The same goes for an arrow shot in the air. No one can tell its path. However, today we do have technology that can trace ships, birds, and arrows. So what? These unjust ones declared that they ceased to exist the day they were born, because they had no virtue. Thus they were consumed with wickedness.

The sacredness of naphtha (2 Macc 1:30-1:36)

“Then the priests sang the hymns.

After the materials of the sacrifice had been consumed,

Nehemiah ordered that the liquid that was left

Should be poured upon large stones.

When this was done,

A flame blazed up.

But when the light from the altar shone back,

It went out.

When this matter became known,

It was reported to the king of the Persians.

The place where the exiled priests had hidden the fire,

The liquid had appeared

With which Nehemiah and his associates

Had burned the materials of the sacrifice.

The king investigated the matter.

He enclosed the place.

He made it sacred.

With those persons whom the king favored

He exchanged many excellent gifts.

Nehemiah and his associates called this nephthar.

This means purification.

However, by most people it is called naphtha.”

After the priests had sung their hymns and the sacrifice had been consumed, Nehemiah ordered that the left over liquid be poured on large stones. A blaze started when the sun was shining brightly. However, when the sun was not out, there was no flame. This was reported to the king of Persia. Nehemiah was a trusted cupbearer for King Artaxerxes who investigated this material. He then called the place where it was found to be sacred. In fact, he gave this as gifts. Thus naphtha, nephthar, or oil gained its importance.