In yesterday's passage (which we omitted for St. Luke's feast day readings), God beautifully reminds Israel that he alone is God and "besides me there is no savior." Yet, in spite of his gracious love toward them, Israel rebelled and followed after other nations and their practices by rejecting God as their king and setting up a human king in his place. As a result, God is going to judge them...and yet...ultimately he will redeem them from Death and the Grave. By conquering Death, God will be the death of Death and the destroyer of the Grave (v.14)! Though he shall discipline and punish sin, ultimately his actions stem from his unceasing and unfathomable love for his redeemed. "What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul!"
Today's reading is the account of Jesus' transfiguration, that miraculous event in which the veil is peeled back and the true glory of Christ is shown to Peter, John, and James. This event happened on the eighth day after the previous events. The early church was quick to find significance in the number eight. As God created the heavens and the earth in seven days, the eighth day here is understood to foreshadow the resurrection in the world to come. As Ambrose, bishop of Milan, wrote in his commentary, "It says 'about eight days after these words, he took those three alone and led them onto the mountain.' Why is it that he says 'eight days after these words'? He that hears the words of Christ and believes will see the glory of Christ at the time of the resurrection. The resurrection happened on the eighth day...It shows us that he said that he who because of the Word of God shall lose his own soul will save it, since he renews his promises at the resurrection" (Ambrose, Exposition of the Gospel of Luke). Were we to see Christ in his unveiled glory here and now we would surely respond as awkwardly and inappropriately as Peter. What matters most for us here, however, is the certain promise and hope that we have in the resurrection, when we will see Christ as he is, celebrating the death of Death, and enjoying God's perfect presence forever.