John stands out from the rest of the New Testament. With Paul we are in the seminar room: we are arguing the thing out, looking up references, taking notes, and then being pushed out into the world to preach the gospel to the nations. Matthew takes us into the synagogue, where the people of God are learning to recognize Jesus as their King, their Emmanuel. Mark writes a little handbook on discipleship for followers of the Servant King and a short apology for the very idea of a crucified King. Luke presents Jesus to the cultured Greek world of his day. John, by contrast, takes us up the mountain, and says quietly: ‘Look—from here, on a clear day, you can see forever.’ We beheld his glory, glory as of the Father’s only Son. John does not including the story of the transfiguration as the other evangelists do; but in a sense, John’s whole story is about the transfiguration. He invites us to be still and know; to look again into the human face of Jesus of Nazareth, until the awesome knowledge comes over us, wave upon terrifying wave, which we are looking into the human face of the living God. And he leads us on, with our awe and bewilderment reaching its height, to the point where we realize that the face is most recognizable when it wears the crown of thorns. When John says, ‘We beheld his glory’, he is thinking supremely of the cross. And those who see this glory in this cross are, very shortly afterwards, commissioned to follow the one who has made this glory visible.
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