"And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white." - Matthew 17:2
I once worked in a restaurant kitchen that was the size of a small closet. I showed up at 7:00 am with another cook named Steve. We chopped vegetables and spoke infrequently, enjoying the morning quiet. At noon the third cook, Roy, arrived. He could not stop talking. A constant flow of party stories and poor-me stories, high-school touchdown stories and lectures on the best way to cook a burger. I grew to know Roy's family better than I knew my own. His uncle who loved to ice fish. His aunt's sciatica. His second cousin with the super-fast motorbike. Five hundred stories in a room that barely measured 10 square feet.
After a few months of this Steve came to work with a large bottle of Excedrin. At 11:30 he swallowed four of them and offered me the jar. I said "No I don't have a headache." He replied, "Neither do I. But Roy will be here in half an hour."
The word "prolepsis" is defined as "an event that anticipates and answers possible objections before they have the chance to occur." Steve ate four Excedrin before Roy even had a chance to speak.
The Transfiguration is Christ's big proleptic move. He takes his people up a mountain to blind us with his glory immediately before he starts walking toward a most disgraceful death.
After the crucifixion, when his first followers wanted to run from the scandal of a broken God, they could not dismiss Jesus as a failure. They had already seen him glorified.
And so they stood at the foot of the cross with nothing but God and God abandoned. It was Christ's glory that prepared them for his humiliation. His Transfiguration allowed them to survive the cross. It let them embrace a God whose majesty defies all our assumptions about how true greatness should behave. Let it be the same for us.
Dear God, bathe us in Christ's glory before we turn to reckon with his cross. Amen.
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL.