Here in this very other-worldly passage where Jesus is transfigured and seen in his glory, Jesus is still talking about his death. Why? Because that was the heart and soul of his mission: to seek and to save the lost by dying on the cross. If we want to follow Jesus there is no escaping the reality of his death. But it’s in dying with him that we find ultimate life.
You cannot avoid miracles in the Christmas story. If you were to try and remove them, you would gut the story of its most crucial elements. Angels appearing, prophecies being fulfilled, God becoming a man. But maybe the greatest miracle of all in the Christmas story is a new heart; God made a way for Mary’s song to be our song.
John the Baptist shows us a way of life in this passage that is not only right, but satisfying: the life of taking second place. It’s not natural, nor is it easy, but it is rewarding.
Jesus tells us that signs will accompany his second advent: calamities, wars, natural disasters, etc. Jesus exhorts us to be ready, to be on watch, to not fall in love with this world! Just as surely as he came the first time, so he will return a second time to make all things right! This is the hope of Advent.