“Swiftly pass the clouds of glory, Heaven’s voice, the dazzling light; Moses and Elijah vanish; Christ alone commands the height! Peter, James, and John fall silent, Turning from the summit’s rise, Downward toward the shadowed valley, Where their Lord has fixed His eyes.
“Lord, transfigure our perceptions, With the purest light that shines, And recast our life’s intentions, To the shape of Your designs, Till we seek no other glory, Than what lies past Calv’ry’s hill, And our living and our dying, And our rising by Your will.”
“Glory” can be difficult to define, but sometimes we wouldn’t mind having a bit of it for ourselves. Jesus’ disciples, James and John, wanted a share in the glory of Jesus’ coming kingdom (see Mark 10:35-45). They did not yet understand that suffering would come first. Before the King would be crowned with glory, He would be crowned with thorns.
James and John may have requested a share in glory because they had recently seen their Lord transfigured in divine majesty. With Peter, these two disciples saw Jesus’ face shine like the sun as His clothing became white as light. Moses and Elijah appeared to speak with Him. When the Father’s voice called from aloud, “This is My beloved Son; listen to Him,” (Mark 9:7b ESV) the terrified disciples fell face down to the ground. But then, the glory, the voice, and Moses and Elijah vanished. The frightened disciples looked up and “saw no one but Jesus only” (Matthew 17:8b ESV).
Peter had offered to build three tents to contain the glorious vision. Perhaps the disciples wanted to share that glory; James and John certainly did. But they could not stay on the mountain. They had to turn toward “the shadowed valley where their Lord had fixed His eyes.” There would be glory, for all eternity, but squarely in the road to that future glory stood a cross. As they left the mountain, Jesus spoke of His death and resurrection and told His disciples not to speak of the vision “until the Son of Man is raised from the dead” (Matthew 17:9b ESV). Puzzled by this talk of rising from the dead, the disciples followed Jesus as He turned toward the cross.
As we follow in Jesus’ steps, we too may endure suffering. Yes, there will be glory—the glory of Jesus’ resurrection and our own!—but the cross comes first. We pray that the Lord would “transfigure our perceptions” so that we seek only the glory that lies beyond the cross. It is the glory that is found in dying to self and rising, through Baptism, to new life in Christ Jesus. The week before He was transfigured, Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24b-25 ESV). That is the only glory we seek, the glory of living, dying, and rising in Jesus.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, strengthen me by Your Spirit to take up my cross and follow You until the day I share Your glory. In Your Name. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, “Swiftly Pass the Clouds of Glory,” which is found on page 416 of the Lutheran Service Book.
1. How sharp is your focus on God and His Word? What would make it better?
2. How can you live each day with a Christ-centered perception?
3. What’s the hardest area(s) in your life to take up your cross and follow Jesus in?