Winning through losing

This Sunday on the church calendar celebrates an event called The Transfiguration. Jesus took three disciples from his inner circle up a mountain. For a few moments, Jesus was revealed in heavenly splendor, joined by Moses and Elijah. The disciple Peter, evidently not wanting the moment to end, offered to put up shelters for Jesus and the prophets. When a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,” the disciples fell down, terrified.

It was the ultimate mountaintop experience.

I imagine that if I had been there, I’d have proposed something like Peter did. I tend to like the glory, even if it’s only the reflected kind. I like the feeling of success, even if it’s someone else’s. I don’t want the good feelings to end.

But the Transfiguration reminds us that our ways are not God’s ways at all.

Just a few weeks later, God’s beloved Son was stripped of his glory, his ministry success was shattered, and the good feelings were replaced by fear and terror.

The Transfiguration invites us to come down from the mountain with Jesus on his way to the cross. It’s a way we tremble to take, but one we dare not miss.

That’s because, Jesus is the kind of God who wins by losing and saves by dying.

Who could have imagined that the greatest splendor of all wouldn’t be revealed in a mountaintop experience but in a tomb experience?