Summary: There is more to the transfiguration of Jesus than the actual event.
THE TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS is another of those major events in the Bible that speak directly to us of his divine nature and point us strongly to the truth that he was indeed God’s unique and personal revelation of himself. Transfiguration Sunday therefore, is an important day on the Church calendar, not only for the Church to celebrate, but also to confirm and be affirmed by it.
But before we get into that, let us observe first why the Transfiguration is where it is on the Church calendar.
The Church liturgical calendar, as you heard me say before, begins with the first Sunday in Advent. Advent is that season, which occupies our calendar for the four weeks immediately proceeding Christmas. During Advent, the church focuses on the fulfillment of God’s promise of Messiah’s coming and points to his anticipated return to rule as King of the Ages. Advent is the appropriate time to begin the Church liturgical year, signifying that Christ alone is the author and finisher of all that goes on in Church life and ministry.
Advent comes to an end on Christmas day. Christmas then continues as the shortest season on the church calendar. Its theme extends for only twelve days, which end with the beginning of another important but longer season, known to us as Epiphany, the season of divine revelations and manifestations.
Epiphany goes on for six weeks and concerns itself with biblical topics that shed more light on Christ’s true identity. Some of those topics, with which Epiphany deals, are: the Wise Men’s recognition of Jesus as God’s Messiah, heaven’s recognition of Jesus as the Son of God at his baptism, and the miracles of Jesus’ recognition of him as One who possesses divine powers.
Epiphany comes to a climax at the Transfiguration, which happens to be the occasion of this Sunday. The Transfiguration of our Lord marks the end of the six weeks of Epiphany, which began January 6th. It is a remarkable incident that serves two purposes. It brings Epiphany to a close in a most assuring way and opens the door for Lent. Lent, like Epiphany is another season of six, which in turn comes to an end on Easter Sunday. Then the Church goes through the seven weeks of Easter, which end on Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost Sunday begins the longest season of the church year. The Pentecost season covers all the weeks from Pentecost to the Sunday after Thanksgiving, known to us as “Christ the King Sunday,” the last day of the Church year.
The reason for sharing with you this background is twofold: First, it helps us put the Transfiguration of our Lord, in its legitimate theological context. The Transfiguration is another revelation of who Jesus really is. It is part of Epiphany. Secondly, such background is a reminder for us to be intentional in learning to place our theological beliefs in their historical biblical spot.
As we worshipfully celebrate the Transfiguration of our Lord, and close the season of Epiphany in anticipation of Lent, let us reflect on what this most beautiful of the days Jesus spent on earth, mean to our daily living and to all that we have learned so far about Christ’s identity.