son of man
Transfiguration Of The Lord
Fr. Peter Robinson
Preached: August 6, 2023
We have all heard the mantra used in real estate, when buying or selling a house: “Location,
location, and … location.” Did you know that this principle is equally important when studying a
Bible passage? Except the mantra is: “Context, context, context.”
I say that, because just before our Old Testament reading from the Prophet Daniel, the author
introduces 4 horrible beasts. These are the sorts of creatures that we would expect to see in a
sci-fi film, or a horror movie. Daniel uses these images to depict 4 ancient empires – and, at the
same time, these monsters are also metaphors.
For example, by a careful study of history, scholars know that the 4 monsters (which look like a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a fourth terrifying beast) represent the ancient kingdoms of Babylon, Media, Persia, and Greece. Yet these terrifying beasts also depict the forces of evil, that (age after age) wage war on God’s kingdom, and on his people.
Which brings us back to today’s First Reading. You see, there are monsters at loose in our age,
too. There are systems of though (or ideologies) at work in our society — intent on extinguishing our faith (yours and mine) and our Church. Yet consider the One who protects us. Daniel gazes deep into heaven and describes our Protector in vivid detail.
Thrones are set in place, and one called the “Ancient of Days” takes his throne above all. (This is
Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords.) His clothes were the purest white, as white as
snow. And the hair of his head is like the finest wool (i.e., white hair in the Ancient Near East
symbolized maturity and wisdom). His throne is a flaming fire, and a stream of fire emerges and
flows from his presence. Around about, millions upon millions of heavenly beings are there to
serve HIM. Then the books of God’s judgment are opened by HIM.
In summary, this prophecy of Daniel was written during dark days of persecution of Judaism, a
couple of centuries before Christ. From the point of view of the Jewish people, ravening beasts
were indeed tearing them like prey to pieces. And yet, from God’s perspective a noble human
being takes his throne, on whom God confers all power and sovereignty on earth. This noble
leader is given the title “son of man.”
Did you know that this is the only title which Jesus uses of himself, during his 3 years of ministry, the title “son of man”? So, there is no doubt to whom the prophecy of Daniel refers. When Jesus is transfigured on a low mountain in Palestine, his robe becomes “as white as snow.” For Peter, James, and John this could only recall the scene written by Daniel centuries earlier.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, regardless of the challenges coming hard at you this week, this month, this year, obstacles that may seem insurmountable, I want you to remember this: “The kingship and dominion and majesty of all the kingdoms under the heavens” have already been given to Jesus, the Most High (v 27).
Today, our Church around the world celebrates the Transfiguration of the Lord. We affirm that our spiritual Lord, King Jesus, is the true ruler of this planet, and of the cosmos. If we are faithful to him, we too will rule in glory with him — in his eternal kingdom.