Reading Time: 2 mins

The Hidden Glory

Reading Time: 2 mins

Hidden beneath the sinner is a glorious saint. Jesus has declared it to be so in your baptism.

Glory often hides. That is the case many times over in the narration of Jesus’ transfiguration found in Matthew 17.

What happened before these words? It’s important for us to ask the question because Matthew 17 begins, “After six days…” So what had just happened? Jesus had just placed two paths before his people, and each one was rather unnerving. One path: follow Jesus and carry a cross for a lifetime (Matt. 16:24). You could escape the cross on the other path, but that means no Jesus, no heaven, only shame and condemnation for eternity. Then silence for six days.

Finally Jesus pulls Peter, James, and John aside. They must have been pondering Jesus’ words for the past week. Did they want to ask about what he said as they climbed the mountain? Certainly Jesus was thinking about them. He had told them he would soon go to Jerusalem to die, but they didn’t want to hear it. Peter even tried to rebuke him. Jesus needed them to know the cross was the only way for him to go, and it is the only way for those who want to follow him. 

Jesus takes them to this mountain to make that truth plain. Jesus had always been God in all his fullness, but he most often hid his glory in the world. On this mountain, he dropped the veil. The glory, hidden for so long, shone forth. His face was the sun, and his clothes were light itself. Moses and Elijah also appear with him in this glory. They speak with each other, and they speak about how Jesus would soon die in Jerusalem. How could anyone witness this event and not see that Jesus, full of such immense glory and power, could allow anything to happen to him or the plan of salvation that he did not want to happen? Trust him; he knows what he’s doing.

The Father then appears. Yet even on this mountain of glory, the Father continues to hide himself. He covers himself in clouds because there is no sinful soul who could withstand his unveiled presence and live. He hides himself still to spare these men from what their sins deserve. But as he hides, he also reveals himself in his word: “Listen! This is my Son. I love him. Listen to him! In this path to the cross, you see only defeat. But it is in my love for him that I want him to walk this path and so earn a glory that has no equal. It is on this path alone that your salvation lies.”

Jesus revealed his hidden glory here while the Father’s glory remained veiled, but what about you and me? Aren’t we those sinners from whom the Father must hide himself? Aren’t we those for whom Jesus had to walk the way of the cross? True, and yet hidden beneath the sinner is a glorious saint. Jesus has declared it to be so in your baptism. There he connects you to his cross where the sinner is crucified and to his empty tomb where the saint rises to live and follow him. 

In this world, that life of the sinner-saint does not seem so glorious. That life under the cross can be ugly and messy and painful. However, because you are connected to Jesus, the crown remains secure. It is also in that connection to him you find strength to carry your cross just as Moses and Elijah did in their lives in this world. That picture of a glorious Moses and Elijah here is a glimpse into your own future in heaven where glory hides no more. Amen.