The Transfiguration of Jesus marks a transition point in the Gospels. It’s the segue into His suffering and death. If it had been accompanied by music, we’d be moving to minor keys and darker tones. All the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) include cross talk from Jesus following this event.

After the Transfiguration, Jesus sets His face on Jerusalem and the events by which he accomplished our salvation.

We are drawn to events like the Transfiguration. Like the apostles, we are drawn to glory and uncomfortable with the cross. We like the transfigured Jesus. We like the Father speaking approval. We like to be in the company of great prophets.

We have glimpses of glory, but live in the shadow of the cross.

We are less at home with Jesus crucified, the Father silent, the prophets nowhere to be seen other than in their predictive words. But such is the Christian Faith, and such is the Christian life.

We have glimpses of glory, but live in the shadow of the cross.

Transfiguration Sunday marks our transition to the season of Lent. Many churches say and sing farewell to alleluias until Easter. Services grow more somber. Midweek services often walk us through the passion narratives. Perhaps we give up something dear to us for a time, not to earn God’s favor, but to focus our attention on Christ and his path to Calvary.

We’re told that two men appeared with Jesus on the mount of Transfiguration. One of these was Moses, the great lawgiver. For centuries the Israelites had lived by the laws he gave, with varying success and failure. Christ came to fulfill that law. He came, not to be a new Moses, but to be Moses’ Savior, the fulfillment of what God had promised through this reluctant leader.

Elijah too was there. He worked great miracles and served through great tribulation, when only a remnant of believers remained. Christ’s miracles were in many ways patterned after Elijah’s, but surpassed them. Jesus was the remnant of remnants, alone on the cross, forsaken, to bring the nations into His kingdom. He came to pack heaven with sinners.

Transfiguration is like a farewell party for a dear friend drafted and going off to war.

The Father speaks atop the mount of Transfiguration. He says He is pleased with Christ. This was His Son, who was preparing to make the ultimate sacrifice, the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Listen to Him, the Father told the apostles there. Listen to His cross talk. Surely it grieved the Father’s heart to think about the days to come, but He knew, as did His Son, how necessary these days were. Only in the crucified Christ were we to be reconciled again, reconciled to God and to one another. Only in Him were the Old Testament promises, beginning in Genesis, to be kept.

Transfiguration is like a farewell party for a dear friend drafted and going off to war. It’s a joyous day, and yet a joyous day over which hangs great sadness. We celebrate all that has brought us there, we rejoice in our friend, and yet we know we are sending him off to great danger.

So it is with Christ. And yet Christ goes, not by conscription, but by choice. He goes freely because His love for us is so great. Even more, He goes, not for friends, but those born as His enemies. He goes to redeem us, who have nothing to offer. He offers Himself, all of Himself, as our ransom.

At the Transfiguration we get a brief glimpse of glory, of Jesus’ glory, but He doesn’t want us to stop there, because He didn’t stop there. He brings us along through Lent to Good Friday and to Easter. It’s on the other side of a cursed tree that true glory rests, at an empty tomb.

Make the most of the journey. Rejoice over Him who goes forth for you to the slaughter: God Himself, the Son of the Father, His Father’s delight, who has come down from heaven above to make us His own. He is the one foretold by Moses and Elijah. As they had life and lived in Christ, so do we.

This is the Father’s Son, whom He loves. And He loves you. For this reason, we dare not linger. We dare not build tents and stay there, as astonished Peter suggested. No, we go forth, hopeful, even as things get seemingly hopeless, because we know who it is who goes forth for us, and why.