Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, my family and those whom God loves:
How might these passages be summarized?
Throughout the season of Epiphany, from the star that led the wise men to Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-12), to Jesus’ Baptism (Matthew 3:13-17), to John the Baptizer’s proclamation (John 1:35-42), to Isaiah’s prophecy (Matthew 4:12-17), and finally to Jesus’ own preaching and teaching (Matthew 5-7), the light of God’s revelation has shown Jesus to be the King, the Beloved, the Lamb of God, the Light in the darkness, the in-breaking of God’s kingdom, the Blesser and the righteous Judge. However, in the Transfiguration it’s as if all of that light comes together to declare Jesus to be the beloved Son of God.
The story of the transfiguration from Matthew’s Gospel (17:1-9) is the focal point for the readings. The transfiguration of Jesus confirms for the disciples that He truly is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, as Peter confessed earlier on (16: 16) and as he will bear witness to in his letter (2 Peter 1:17-18). The transfiguration is a foretaste of the coming glory of Christ’s resurrection and His earthly appearances afterward, His ascension, and finally heaven. Though we are still troubled by the cares and ills of earthly life, every believer has a share in this vision of what is to come (1 John 3: 2) and it is with this promise that we can comfort one another with this hope.
The Psalm reading (Psalm 2:6-12) proclaims the coming Messiah as the anointed one to be King with words similar to what God said at both Jesus’ baptism and at his transfiguration (Psalm 2:7): The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.
In the reading from Exodus (24:8-18) Moses ascends Mount Sinai to receive the terms of the covenant God makes with His people. However, sin creates an impassible barrier between God and people. By the blood of the covenant (Exodus 24:8), the Lord anticipates the forgiveness of sins in Jesus, who would become “sin” for us in order to redeem us (2 Corinthians 5:21). It is only because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross that we too can enter into the glory of his death and resurrection.
In the reading from 2 Peter (1:16-21) Peter bears witness to the Lord’s glory on the holy Mount of Transfiguration. We do not have such a vision of glory, but we have been given the prophetic Word of God, on which the faith and hope of our Lord’s triumphant return in glory depends. Until that time, St. Peter points us to where we are to focus our attention in these words (2 Peter 1:19):
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…
In the Cross of Christ I Glory
In the cross of Christ I glory,
towering o’er the wrecks of time;
all the light of sacred story
gathers round its head sublime.
When the woes of life o’ertake me,
hopes deceive, and fears annoy,
never shall the cross forsake me.
Lo! it glows with peace and joy.
When the sun of bliss is beaming
light and love upon my way,
from the cross the radiance streaming
adds more luster to the day.
Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,
by the cross are sanctified;
peace is there that knows no measure,
joys that through all time abide.
† Issues Etc: Looking Forward to Sunday Morning (Three-Year Lectionary): Transfiguration – Dr. Carl Fickenscher, 2/17/20 (Archive)
Grace be with you,