The reading from Second Peter anticipates the story of the
Transfiguration that we will celebrate this coming Sunday.
Peter alludes to that event by quoting God’s statement concerning
Jesus, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well
pleased.” We have heard these words spoken about Jesus before
in reference to his baptism. After Jesus came up out of the water,
a voice from heaven spoke these very words. Jesus’ baptism and
the Transfiguration proclaim his true and glorious identity.
Central to this text, however, is the apostle’s claim to have
been an eyewitness of Jesus’ majesty. Can any of us possibly
imagine the visible splendor of his divine majesty? In talking
with his students on one occasion, Martin Luther described the
way we should tremble when we stand before an earthly ruler;
all the more when we stand before the Lord of lords and King of
kings. The experience on the mountain must have overwhelmed
Jesus’ inner circle of disciples. Little wonder that the language
pouring onto the page in Peter’s account includes terms like
honor, glory, power and coming.
This reading reminds us that the God of glory whom we
honor is the One who comes. God came in the person of Jesus
who died, was raised, and will come again. Without question,
the “power and coming” of Jesus here refer directly to the coming
of the “Son of Man” about which Matthew wrote (24:30).
The power is that of the risen Christ, whose power will be
demonstrated ultimately in his return. The Transfiguration not
only provides a backward glance through its connection to
Jesus’ baptism; it turns our attention to the future and the coming
of Jesus Christ in final victory.
God of honor, glory, and power, we look forward to your coming in final victory and that time when we will fall down before you and worship you, for you are our God. Amen.
In deep deference and careful obedience, Moses enters the zone of God’s glory, which certifies Moses’ authority. Psalm 99 praises the kingship of Yahweh, while bringing to mind the human agents of God’s rule who facilitate Yahweh’s conversation with the people. The Gospel lesson, like Exodus 24, characterizes what is not fully seen or clearly heard. Jesus is taken up into the zone of God’s glory and so is filled with transcendent authority. Speech about glory points to the assignment of new authority. The epistle reading asserts the authority of the true teachers of the church who rightly present and interpret the scriptural tradition.
• Read Exodus 24:12-18. When did you last experience a life-altering encounter with God?
• Read Psalm 99. Have you ever felt that if God really knew you, you would be hopeless? What changed your mind?
• Read 2 Peter 1:16-21. For the epistle writer, the Transfiguration event focuses more on hearing than on seeing. How do you listen for God’s words?
• Read Matthew 17:1-9. What dark places have you seen brightened by Christ’s presence—through you or others?
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