In Exodus, there is a critical inflection point when Moses brings the people to Mount Sinai. God appears to Moses there and gives him the ten commandments. This meeting with God was so powerful for Moses that his face shone — he was irradiated with glory — for a period of time. It faded shortly after he came down off the mountain. This became a distraction for Moses. He wondered what people would think if they could see his face fading back to normal. Would they say, “Oh Moses was special for a while there, put now he’s back to being just an ordinary old man. So Moses puts a veil over his face. The people needed to realize that their experience of God at Mount Sinai should never fade. The written law and the spoken words of God’s prophets would go with them into the future.
When Luke tells the story of Jesus being both divine and human, he wants us to think of Jesus as the new Moses. Like Moses, Jesus gives us a new law in brief bullet points, such as, “Go the extra mile,” “love your enemies,” and “Be my witnesses.” He speaks prophetically through his parables. But, he also wants us to see that Jesus was in some ways the opposite of Moses. Jesus doesn’t glow on the mountain because God is shining on him. Jesus is transfigured because for a few moments, the glory he always had within him shines through.
It reminded us of the Exodus as Jesus takes his disciples up the mountain and meets with Moses. The transfiguration is a critical inflection point for Jesus’ ministry because it is here that he turns his face towards Jerusalem, where, at Passover, he will become the paschal lamb slain for us. His atoning blood will cause the judgement of our sins to be passed over. This is why the church begins the season of Lent shortly after Transfiguration Sunday. Lent is an Exodus experience for us as we follow Jesus to Jerusalem.
As soon as we exit worship or come down off of the mountain, we will be in the middle of the stuff of our lives. The glow on our face will fade. Will we hold on to the things that are meant to be permanent? Will the law of Moses, the words of the prophets, and the love of Jesus continue with us? Today, religion is expected to fit in a corner of our lives. We have each learned our own techniques for putting a veil over our face and diminishing the good that should come from our mountain top spiritual experiences. Pause and think about the Lenten journey that you will begin next week. How will this year’s following of Jesus to Jerusalem be different from all the other Lents of your life? Are you ready for an inflection point in your spiritual adventure?