Friday, January 30, 2009

The End of the Story in the Middle

There are some scholars and textual critics of the Bible who suggest that the account of the Transfiguration is, in fact, a misplaced resurrection narrative, an Easter story. For whatever reason, the end of the story, Jesus in His glory, got placed in the middle. I don’t agree with this, of course. But there is a sense in which it is helpful for us to think of the Transfiguration in this way. Before we get to the end of the story, Jesus gives us a glimpse of how it all culminates.

We often need this in our own lives. We need to know how the story ends for us, especially in the middle of suffering or difficulty. Jesus shows us this on the mountain. After speaking of the necessity of His suffering and death, after saying that whoever wants to be a disciple of His must take up the cross and follow Him, He then reveals the glory that belongs to all those who are baptized into His body, shining brighter than the sun. The fact that Jesus is speaking of His death with Moses and Elijah on the mountain (Luke 9:31) shows that the only true way to glory is through the cross. “Whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:24).

In the middle of your story Jesus comes to you and shows the glorious climax of it all. He speaks to you the words of eternal life; He gives His own risen body and blood into your frail flesh and blood. He gives away the end of story; but that doesn’t spoil it but gives meaning to it and strengthens you to bear the cross and endure to the end. He says to you, “It’s only a little while longer; keep on going, trusting in Me and loving your neighbor. For the sufferings of this present time are not even worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in you” (Romans 8:18). The Apostle John encourages us, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). (See also Hebrews 12:2)

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