“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Matthew 17:1-8: Bringing Together Glory and the Cross, pt. 2

...At the center of this text is the Father’s declaration, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” This Jesus who fulfills the law and prophets is loved and approved by the Father – the same God as the God who revealed himself to Moses and Elijah. Here, in this new revelatory theophany, following in the tradition of similar accounts, God not only reveals himself in power and glory, but reveals his Son in power and glory and expresses his approval and delight in his Son, thus confirming his identity and authority. As in the baptismal narrative, here we glimpse the unity and love between the Father and the Son. In this respect, the man Jesus far surpasses his predecessors.

Even in the midst of glory, though, Matthew implicitly reminds his readers of the cross. The Father’s command recalls Jesus’ words in chapter 16 concerning the importance and necessity of suffering and even death. Peter is rebuked again for looking only at the Christ’s present glory at the expense of a broader, more complete picture of who Christ is. As he had said and would say again even while descending the mountain, he must suffer and die. Davies and Allison argue that the transfiguration account may have been intended as a parallel to the crucifixion in Matthew 27:32-54 (Davies and Allison 706-7). The radiant light of Christ’s glory is contrasted with the darkness during the crucifixion, Moses and Elijah are contrasted with the two criminals on either side of Christ, and Christ is lifted up in humiliation on the cross, as opposed to glory. The same three disciples are drowsy and confused in the garden as Jesus prays...

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