It is an ancient tradition that the story of the transfiguration of Jesus is read on the Second Sunday of Lent. This mysterious story tells of a strange transformation in the appearance of Jesus which profoundly affects the three chosen disciples. In addition, they see a vision of Moses and Elijah and they hear the voice of God.
To understand this gospel and its place in the early days of Lent we need to observe that this experience comes as Jesus begins his journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. All three ‘synoptic’ gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke highlight this journey of Jesus and relate how, even though he foresees his death and resurrection, he remains determined to go to Jerusalem where he will face arrest, trial and crucifixion. The disciples accompany him in a state of reluctance and bewilderment.
The strange vision gives the disciples a glimpse of the future which lies beyond suffering and death. Both Moses and Elijah are said in ancient writings to have been taken up to live in the presence of God. Their testimony confirms the hope of the resurrection.
God’s voice recalls the baptism scene as once again Jesus is proclaimed to be the beloved Son of God. There the Father had commended him as Jesus, the sinless one, began his ministry by sharing in the baptism ‘for the forgiveness of sins’. Now the Father again approves of the Son as he courageously begins his journey to the place of martyrdom.
What does this story teach you as the season of Lent progresses?
What is the most important feature of the story in your understanding?
Let us pray for all Christians that we may keep sight of the hope of resurrection.
Let us pray for all those preparing to be baptised at Easter.