28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure,  which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One;  listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen. Luke 9:28-36 (ESV)
42:1 “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” (Isaiah 42:1-3 (ESV)
And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”
The point was to bring to mind Isaiah 42 and the suffering servant. This transfiguration happens shortly after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God. They knew that they were seeing God in the flesh, that in Jesus Christ the fullness of God dwelt bodily. They knew he was the Messiah, but they were having trouble understanding what that meant. Immediately after this confession, Jesus starts talking about going to Jerusalem, about being handed over, about suffering and dying. Peter is horrified. I dare say we would have been too, perhaps we still are.
As goes the Lord so goes the servant. If they call Jesus Beelzebub, can the disciples ask for anything better. It is enough for the student to be like the Master, to be like his teacher. Christ’s suffering meant that his disciples would suffer, that all his disciples would suffer for his name’s sake, including you and including me.
This isn’t what we want to hear. Suffering is part of this world. Being born of flesh and blood, suffering belongs to our primordial memories. It is not without reason we break the womb with wails and screaming. Suffering, it is precisely this that we hope to be saved from! As far as Peter was concerned Christ had it all wrong, the Messiah was supposed to eliminate suffering. The Messiah was supposed to usher in a golden age of wealth and privilege that would make King Solomon look like small potatoes. So Peter, and the rest of the disciples could not comprehend that the man they knew to be the messiah was talking of suffering. But Jesus understood what it meant to be the Chosen one.
A bruised reed he would not break, a smoldering wick he would not snuff out, he would faithfully bring forth Justice, righteousness. This is what he came to do. In all our efforts to avoid suffering, we only bring on more. Jesus knew the futility of that path for mankind. And he knew that there was no avoiding it for mankind. See, Jesus says a man must pick up his cross and follow him. But the cross is his, it belongs to the man who picks it up. It really isn’t as if we could avoid crosses in this life. The question is, what are we going to do with the cross, are we going to let it kill us in vain, or are we going to follow Jesus with it? Jesus knew there was only one answer to our suffering in this world, and that was that he would suffer in our place, alongside us and blaze a trail through the kingdom of death that would lead to an open tomb. So he goes to Jerusalem. So he has himself handed over. So he suffers in our place and dies in our stead. And this is why the Father says that Jesus is his chosen one in whom he delights. Because the Father knows that in him the world will be restored, in him we will have salvation. So he tells them to listen to him, who stands before us today transfigured in white. And we listen to him, because he will not break the bruised reed, he will not quench the faintly burning wick, but to them he says, “Take heart, the world will give you tribulation, but I have overcome the world.” To them he says, “Take eat this is my body… Take drink, this cup is the New Testament in My Blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” And this he is able to say because he was the chosen one, the one chosen to suffer and die that we might live.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.