Transfiguration Sunday (February 7, 2016)
- First reading
- Second reading
2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 | New Living Translation (NLT)
Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.
But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up.We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.
It’s hard to believe that Lent is upon us. This Sunday marks the last Sunday of the season of Epiphany. During this season we have looked at shining the light of Jesus – being a light to the world. After all that was the mission of Jesus. Jesus is the light of the world and He calls us to shine his light and reflect his glory. This Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday. If you’ve been around the church, you’ve heard the story of the transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus takes his inner circle of disciple friends to the mountain to pray. While they are praying, Jesus face was transformed – his whole appearance was transformed – much like Moses face was transformed after meeting with God on Mount Sinai. The people of Israel asked Moses to veil his face because the glow on his face was too bright. Then suddenly, we are told, that two men show up, Moses and Elijah (probably to represent the law and the prophets,) and they begin talking to Jesus about his exodus from the world – very interesting. What is amazing here is that Peter, James, and John have fallen asleep and wake up to this fascinating sight. Impetuous Peter exclaims (my paraphrase) “This is cool! Jesus is talking to Moses and Elijah. Let’s set up church here and just keep worshiping.” As usual, Peter jumped the gun and God stepped in to show what really was going on. God covered the transfiguration scene with a cloud, and spoke “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to Him!” And then Jesus was standing alone again with His disciples.
How would you react to such a scene? It must have been incredible. Imagine being Peter, James, and John. They got to see Emmanuel – God with us in action. Imagine seeing God in the flesh in action. To be sure, they didn’t understand all of us. We have the Spirit of God living in our hearts and sometimes we don’t understand it.
This is where we step into Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth. Paul explains to them about Moses and his veiled face. Moses had to veil his face because the peoples hearts were hardened to the work of God. That’s why they couldn’t handle his transformed appearance. Before we knew the Lord, our faces were veiled as well – we saw God with veiled faces because we couldn’t behold his glory – his beautiful radiance – for it was far to bright. But now, since we know the Lord and we have turned our hearts to him, we reflect his glory. The Spirit of the Lord removes the veil and now we reflect his glory. How cool is that? Paul reminds us that Jesus is the new way – the new covenant. The law was the old covenant – it only pointed out all our faults and the fact that we could never keep it. Paul reminds us of that in Romans 7. It is only because of God’s great mercy that we are able to walk in the new covenant of Jesus’ grace and mercy – and in that grace and mercy, we are to reflect the image of the Son – just as Jesus reflects the image of his Father.