The Gospel of Matthew, listed in the Bible as first (you know Matt, Mark, Luke & John…) was actually written after the Gospel of Mark. Mark had already written about most of what is in Matthew, and it is generally understood by academics that the writings of Matthew expanded and embellished it. This is not altogether unusual in religious writing which came from an oral tradition. The readability of Matthew may be preferred over Mark because of its slower pace and attention to human detail. Jesus seems somehow more accessible and therefore the remarkable things that happen are all that more intriguing.
The Gospel text we read today is no exception. It’s a thought provoking, visually powerful account of a transcendental experience Jesus had in the presence of three others with whom he had a close relationship; Peter, James and his brother John. If you accept that people can have transcendent experiences, as I do, what an amazing experience this one must have been. Honestly, if I had been there witnessing Jesus’ glorious transfiguration as the three disciples did, I believe it would have sent me careening down the mountain shaking in my boots. Imagine hiking with your beloved friend and suddenly she turns incandescently, dazzling white, when reaching the top of the mountain! Jesus led them up to this mountaintop experience, which is what we call a mystical experience these days, and they may well have been tired and perhaps subject to some suggestion, but this? Over the top. Not only did Jesus’ face shine like the sun and his clothes turn an incandescent white, but they are met up there by their Biblical heroes Moses and Elijah.