Lectionary Reflection for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany

This excerpt comes from Matthew (BTCB) by Stanley Hauerwas, commenting on Matthew 5:21-37:

The Son of Man has come. We see his glory in the transfiguration. Six days after the dramatic exchanges at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a high mountain. There he is transfigured, his face shining like the sun and his clothes dazzling white. Moses and Elijah appear with him and engage him in conversation.

Peter, overwhelmed, suggests that they build three dwellings for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, but while Peter is still speaking a cloud overshadows them and from the cloud a voice speaks, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”

An extraordinary event! Jesus has just told his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem to be defeated by the elders and chief priests and be killed. But here on this mountain we are privileged to witness his glorification. This is the glory of the Father who submits the Son to death. This is the one who commands the wind and the waves, who drives out demons, who cures the blind, mute, and lame; this is the one who justly judges, but this is also the one who becomes subject to death on our behalf.

“Six days later” harkens to creation itself. Jesus’s transfiguration is the seventh day, the day God rested, bringing to completion the work of the previous six days. That day of rest is the day of perfect activity in which we are invited to enjoy God in perfect concord. Is it any wonder that the Sabbath is a day of brightness in which Jesus shines with the brightness of the sun?

That same brightness, moreover, anticipates the new heaven and new earth seen by John in the book of Revelation. The end anticipates the beginning, consummating the glory present in creation. Jesus is transfigured, and we begin to see the glory of the God whose home is among mortals, who will dwell in us, and make us his people, wiping away every tear; and death will be no more (Rev. 21:1–4).

 

©2006 by Stanley Hauerwas. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.