The Sunday Before the Season of Lent

Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36

The Transfiguration of Our Lord

This Sunday is given to our Lord’s transfiguration and the passages of Scripture which record that event.  The Anglican Church and some other Protestant denominations choose this particular Sunday before the Season of Lent to remind believers of our Lord’s glory before the arduous journey of the cross through which Lent takes us.  This prepares us to make the same journey as we remember that when he came, his true identity was cloaked for the little while he walked the earth.

So Jesus takes his most intimate disciples with him up a mountain.  (Remember, mountains are small in Israel.)  Luke reports that they had fallen asleep while Jesus was praying.  Luke is fond of showing us that Jesus was in continual communion with his Father while in his humble form on earth.  But for a brief moment in time, while Jesus was praying, the veil of humility was pulled back and his glory as the eternal Son of the Father was revealed.  Indeed, it was only one-nth of the glory the disciples were allowed to see as they finally “became fully awake.”  The Bible records that his face shone like the sun and his clothes became dazzling white as no one could make them.  (The Greek word used here is the same in which we get our word, “metamorphosis.”)  Moses and Elijah appear representing the Law and the Prophets.  Luke adds that the three “spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem,” showing that Jesus fulfills the requirements of the old covenant which these two men embodied.  Peter foolishly asks that the three disciples make tents for Jesus and his two visitors, perhaps hoping they would stay awhile.  Then the Father’s majestic voice answers, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”

The path before Jesus was grueling, and he knew it.  Before it was all said and done, the three men who were sleeping moments ago would fall asleep yet again and forsake him in his darkest hour.  Jesus would walk alone, as only he could do what he would do, what he came to do.  So he went to his Father, not because he doubted, but to share sweet communion once more before the hour came.  And as the Spirit strengthened Jesus, so we pray for the same strength as we carry our cross to Golgotha.  “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).  Lent is a season of reminder for us that we are cross-bearers, people who through the power of the Spirit must be conformed to the image of our Lord (Romans 12:1-2).  He went before us; so let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured (Hebrews 13:13).

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