The Sundays after Easter are called the Sundays “of” Easter. So today is the second Sunday “of” Easter. It is as though the ancient church fathers did not want to let go of Easter. In that little preposition, “of”, is a sermon that every Sunday is to be a little Easter.
For Easter Sunday is always followed by Easter Monday. We head back to work and the weary world and forget the glory of Easter. Today, after travelling the path of Christ’s sufferings and resurrection in chapters 14 through 16 during Lent and Easter, we take up our weekly journey through Mark’s Gospel with chapters 9 through 13 remaining. This morning we find ourselves on the Mount of Transfiguration. Christ is transfigured in glory. It is a taste of things to come, the glory won for us on Easter.
In Romans 8:18, St. Paul says: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worthy comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Paul does not belittle or deny the sufferings of this present time. In his epistles, he catalogs his own sufferings for the sake of Christ – beatings, imprisonments, shipwrecks, persecutions and hardships of all kinds.
The great heroes of faith listed on the pages of Scripture all have this in common – suffering – times of dread testing when God is silent and seems not to be listening at all. Noah, cast adrift on the waters of the great flood. Abraham, challenged to choose between his love for God and his love for his son, Isaac. Joseph, locked up in prison on false charges. Moses, standing alone against an ancient empire – and too often against his own grumbling people. David, the heir apparent to Israel’s throne, dodging spears and hiding in the caves of the Judean badlands.
But what does the Bible say of all these heroes of faith? Hebrews 11 says: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth…they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one.”
There is no “like unto” on this earth that we can use to adequately describe the glories of heaven for which we are waiting. There is only the firm conviction of faith that the liabilities of this life weigh nothing in the scales compared to the assets of heaven. However bad things may be in your life now – however bad they may get – they are nothing at all, says Paul, not even worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed.
Christ’s glory on the mountain and Christ’s empty tomb preach to us: “You ain’t seen nothing’ yet!” Over our deepest wounds and darkest days, God has inscribed the word: “Temporary.” These things shall not last. They are but one tick of the clock. The glory we await is eternal, unending, unfading.