Yesterday was transfiguration Sunday which marks a peak of ascent in the Christian calendar and journey. It is from the vantage point of the mountain of transfiguration that we see behind us the season of Epiphany and before us the season of Easter. Behind us is Christ’s baptism and before us is his death and resurrection. It is from this vantage point that along with Peter and James, we see Christ transfigured before us and then from out of a cloud of unapproachable light, we hear the words, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” (Matthew 17:1-9).
These words spoken from God the Father act as a segue from Epiphany into the season of lent. From the action of Christ’s baptism (in Epiphany) to its meaning for us (Easter). The first phrase from the clouds of the Mountain of Transfiguration was first spoken at the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel:
“And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” – Matthew 3:16-17
After these words were spoken at Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3, we find Jesus being, “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights.” (Mat. 4:1) This brings us to the longing of lent:
- To not live by bread alone, but by the words that come from the mouth of God. (Mat. 4:3-4)
- To not put the LORD to the test (Mat. 4:5-7)
- To dismiss Satan with our worship of “The LORD our God, serving him alone.” (Mat.4:8-10).
On the mountain of transfiguration where we stand in the Church calendar we are invited into this season of Longing, of Lent with the words, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” So we respond to the Epiphany of Jesus as God with obedience; listening and following Christ into a wilderness season of Lent that leads to the death and new life of Easter.