People have very differing views about spoilers these days. There are those who make their livelihood by revealing movie secrets on the web. There are those who can’t stand it when the surprise is ruined by the careless dissemination of information. Then there are others, like me, who are somewhere in the middle.
I have an uncanny knack at being able to guess the twists and turns of most stories. It drives my wife crazy. The height of her frustration came with the movie The Sixth Sense. She saw it before I did, and was so taken aback, she couldn’t wait to see how long this one would stump me. She was careful to guard me against any “spoilers” until I could see it. Well … she tried. One day a friend happened to say “That was some surprise ending wasn’t it?” That was enough for me to guess the plot five minutes in. It spoiled all of her fun (and mine too … it is a long movie when you know the secret right from the get-go).
But in our house, filled as it is by little ones, spoilers are a necessary part of any story with questionable or scary parts. I can’t begin to count the number of times we have had to begin a story, a show or a movie with words of caution and comfort. Words that say although there will be scary parts they will not last long, and everything will turn out just fine. In such instances we find that it spoils the enjoyment of the work far less than trying to console traumatized children for days afterward.
In that sense God himself has provided a spoiler for us in the Transfiguration of Christ. On that mountain, in the presence of Peter, James, John, Moses and Elijah God lets slip an important part of the narrative to come. But He doesn’t do it to ruin the fun of what is to come, He does it for the sake of those not quite ready to take it all in. And so God gives them a spoiler. You see the story is about to get scary. It is about to turn dark and ugly. There will be treachery, betrayal, torture, suffering and death. BUT everything will be fine because Jesus really is God! Everything will work out in the end, just wait and see.
And in that way the Transfiguration serves as a spoiler for us too. Tomorrow we begin the season of lent. It is a season of contemplation, repentance and consideration on the sacrifice of our Lord. As a season so intimately connected to soul-searching it can lead us to some very dark places. It can open up to us things we prefer to keep hidden away in dark shadows. It can take us down paths that no one in their right mind willingly wants to tread. Sin, guilt, complicity, suffering, shame, the death of Christ. It is a season in which it is easy to get lost in the dark, lost in ourselves, lost in despair. So God gives us a spoiler just days before we begin. Everything will be fine because it is not about our failures. It is about God’s victory in Jesus! As dark as the soul-searching may get, everything will work out in the end, for there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Just wait and see. That light is Jesus Christ who did indeed come to suffer and die because of sin – My Sin – but He did it willingly. He did it to lead me out of the darkness into the light. He did it to show the true glory of His love for me and all mankind. He did it so that He could rise again from the dead, the firstfruits of all who will go through death to life.
Before the dark he gives us a taste of the light. Before the death, a glimpse of the resurrection. A heavenly spoiler so we can better enjoy, and rightly understand, the story about to unfold. Indeed, the greatest story ever told!