Today is the last Sunday in Epiphany. Epiphany means “sudden burst of light” and refers to the light of God suddenly bursting out in this world through Jesus Christ causing us to ask: Who is this? Who is this who turns water into wine? Who is this that even wise men from far away lands come and bow before him? Who is this that even the demons fear Him and the wind and waves obey Him? Today is called Transfiguration Sunday – the day the church remembers a significant moment in the ministry of Jesus. On that day, He went up on a mountain to pray with His closest friends and God’s glory descended on Him and His face and clothes began to shine, and Moses and Elijah appeared with Him and God spoke from heaven, like He did at Christ’s baptism, affirming that this was indeed His Son.
But as they come back down the mountain Jesus says that they are not to tell anyone until after He has risen from the dead. And the reason for this is that Epiphany really only shows one side of the glory of God, and we are all tempted to cling to that one side of the glory. Like Peter, we all want to stay there: it’s the glory of miraculous healing, the glory of authority over demons, the glory of supernatural calming of storms, but the other side of this glory is the startling truth that God has also determined to manifest His glory in our weakness, in our suffering, in our storms.
In other words, part of the good news of Jesus is that He came to deliver us from all bondage to sin, Satan, and suffering, but the other part of the gospel of Jesus is that He came to lead us out into freedom through the unexpected path of hardship, weakness, betrayal, and pain. And God is weaving a story of glory together that includes both of these aspects, miracles and suffering, freedom and storms. The gospel is the good news, God’s promise, that if we will let Him, Jesus will ride with us in the storm. He will carry us through. Sometimes He will command the wind and the waves, and they will cease immediately and sometimes He calls on us to ride a little further in the gale. But we are gathered here this morning because we believe in this glory. We believe it is real. We believe that if He is with us nothing can take away this glory, and His presence will light up our darkness even now.