A story is told about a bird which came from a noble layang-layang (swallow bird) family. He loved to fly above the earth and sing beautiful melodies. One thing he hated was the daily work of having to dig worms in order to live.
One day while soaring high above the earth, he saw a little man walking down the road shouting: “Earthworms for sale. Earthworms traded for feathers:” The swallow zoomed down and said to the man: What is the deal?” Two worms for one feather, the man answered. “Try it and you will like it.” So the shallow tried it and liked it. He had many feathers to trade after all.
Day after day, the swallow plucked another feather and traded for worms. Then the awful day came when he tried to fly but was barely able to get himself off the ground and came crashing down again. He realized what had happened. He was unable to fly. A contradiction in terms– a layang-layang that cannot fly. And so he spent the whole day digging for worms.
Many of us are like the bird in the story. WE WANT SUCCESS WITHOUT STRUGGLE; WE WANT FULFILLMENT WITHOUT HARD WORK.
The transfiguration brings home this message. It depicts a glimpse of Christ’s glory, of his resurrection, but it had to be achieved with the greatest of pain–the way of the cross.
This truth applies in every human endeavor. You can’t pass an examination if you don’t burn the proverbial midnight oil; you cannot b e a champion unless you go a long practice and dreary hours of training; in work normally you don’t get promoted if you don’t deliver well, unless you have some good connections.
Strictly speaking, it was unnecessary for Jesus to go through the gory of suffering. He could have redeemed mankind without shedding a single drop of blood. It is mystery. But the mystery has a message: YOU CANNOT ACHIEVE GLORY WITHOUT THE CROSS, YOU CANNOT GET SOMETHING FOR NOTHING.
Thus a Christian without the cross is a contradiction in terms – much like the bird in the story that is unable to fly.
Like the apostles, we have to go down the mountain and face the hard reality of life. We cannot live forever on top of the mountain and build a tent of security– we are to get out of our comfortable zones and face the hard reality of Christian life. And this is the message of the of the transfiguration. There can never be an Easter Sunday without a Good Friday!