The path of descent
Welcome to my weekly ‘Layman’s Lectionary’ series where I stumble my way through the liturgical year and share my layman’s opinions, doubts, fears, and hopes about modern culture and daily life as it corresponds to scripture.
Click here for Revised Common Lectionary readings.
I wish I had more time and theological expertise to unpack this one. I know there are prophecies from the Hebrew Bible being made manifest and a lot of other nuances going on that are beyond my layman’s proficiencies.
But Jesus is definitely having a mystical God-moment up on that mountain as his appearance changes from a shabbily-clad olive-skinned man to… a luminescent, flowing-robed God-Man. He even channels the prophets Moses and Elijah.
You know that Peter, James, and John — the disciples who accompanied him on that mountaintop — were straight-up frrrreaking out…
A radiant cloud appeared and they all felt the presence of God. A voice out of the cloud rang, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”
This mystical God-moment marks the point before the descent. After this passage, Jesus shares — quite possibly — his most disturbing, shocking, and de-centering teaching of all. He’s about to reveal that he must suffer, die, and rise again — and that anyone who cares to join him must “deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
Lent is upon us. A lot of harrowing stuff is about to go down back on level ground.
But why not delay it a little while? Why not bask in his God-granted and human-witnessed glory and be a supreme king for a while before swallowing the bitter medicine that awaits him at the bottom of that mountain?
I mean, really, why doesn’t Jesus just ride out his success? He’s totally winning right now!!
Instead, Jesus must move his feet one step at a time back down that mountain to the valley of the shadow of death. This God, who slipped into skin as a human, must die.
Because it’s not about worshipping a glorious glowing-white king. If so, the story would’ve stopped there.
But it doesn’t.
It keeps going.
The path of descent has just begun.
God has entered flesh
And now walks
Towards God’s own death.
But even that isn’t the end of the story.