Already at the end of the Epiphany season, Jesus symbolically marks the descent into Lent by coming off the
Really, Christmass and Epiphany go together and form one big revelation of who
Jesus is. During this season Jesus reveals Himself to us. mountain of Transfiguration
And during His whole life, He was not in disguise as a homeless man, a vagrant, or anything sneaky like that. If Jesus didn’t want to be seen, He hid Himself. He didn’t put on a hoodie or a costume. If Jesus didn’t want people to recognize Him, He prevented their eyes from doing so. He did not have to resort to tricks or mind games.
This is taught to us today as St. Peter says,
“Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
St. Peter knew that it was Jesus he had been following the last three years. Peter knew that it was Jesus that he was going to the top of this mountain with, he knew it was Jesus being transfigured, and he knew it was Jesus he was descending the mountain with.
He even tells us, in the epistle reading, that none of the Apostles followed any cleverly devised myths when they preached Jesus to you. There were no word games you had to play. There was no giving of hearts, no meditation, and no moving of the spirit. There were plain and simple words preached and plain and simple words believed.
Jesus’ entire existence is one of transparency. In fact, Jesus desired knowledge of Him to be shared so much, that He created an entire universe in order to show it to a race of beings created by Him.
Jesus had such a need to be known by the whole world that He made Noah build an ark and preach about it for 100 years before bringing the Flood upon the earth, not that anyone else listened. Jesus’ will to be known was so strong that He came down to talk to Moses, came Himself to gather up Elijah into heaven, and was made man.
Our hymn, "O Love, how deep", clues us in on this as well. Go ahead. Turn to it. It sings:
He sent no angel to our race, of higher or of lower place,
But wore the robe of human frame, and to this world Himself He came.
Look at your Introit in your bulletin, right now. All this language, even in the Psalms, is earthly language. Lightning, earth, tabernacles, courts, house, doorkeeper, tents, sun, shield, etc. All these things you can find in your day to day life, well, just about. These things are used by God and yet they are created things. There is never any talk about working yourself up into an emotional, heavenly frenzy in order to find God. He is, and always will, reveal Himself by earthly means.
It is the world that deals falsely with you by slight of hand. It holds lotteries in order to discover who will be the special-lucky person, out of millions, this time. It holds contests and raffles that hide the winner until the very end. It is the world that uses smoke and mirrors in order to determine the true grit of a person.
It is you that employs these same strategies. In dealing with your neighbor, you are told to never show all your cards in order to get the best deal. In dealing with God, you say one thing, but believe another in order to hedge your bets, just in case you got it wrong.
Repent. Jesus does not need tests and trials to uncover what’s in your heart. He already knows. And what He knows is that you are in sin and you are afraid of God. You fear the future and you fear the actions of God in your life, whether they are for you or against you, because you really can’t tell most of the time.
What is this Transfiguration to you? It is something to be feared in your sin, because it is an act of God and because Jesus alone has the glory. In the end this is how it will be. You will look for help from works and merits, priests and holy-men, or maybe even in saints.
But those will all disappear, in the final judgment. Even our own works will disappear and fly from us, leaving us comfort less. And as Peter, James, and John fell down at the Transfiguration, you too will feel forsaken by God.
Yet, Jesus will be known. He will be there and it will only be Him that you see. To those that do not believe, He will be a stern judge ready to cast into hell.
To those who believe and cling to the Word of God, Jesus will be Who He has always said He was: redeemer and savior. He will be the same God who baptized you into His death and resurrection. He will be the same God Who spoke forgiveness to you over and over again. He will be the same God that opens up His side to feed you salvation.
Today, Jesus does not deal falsely with you. He has no hidden agenda or secret path of enlightenment. He has no pop quiz ready and no plans to nor any need to keep anything or anyone in the dark, for the veil came down at the cross.
Do pay attention to the man behind that curtain. He has traversed time, space, and death in order to be here today. He opens Himself to criticism and doubt and yet remains true. He allows Himself to be handed over and handed down to you in hand and mouth.
This same Jesus that is transfigured in glory and that we will see on the Last Day, now publicly and visibly heads down to the cross. This same face of Jesus that shone like the sun will be on the cross, buried in the tomb, and rise again on Easter.
And that is the point. That this transfigured Jesus is the one going to the cross, not some regular guy or false messiah. The Jesus that can shine like God and talk with men who have died will be the one to shed His blood, take His life back again, and offer it to you in His Church today.