Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Transfiguration - February 10, 2013 - Transfiguration Sunday - Text: Luke 9:28-36
According to our church year calendar, today is a special day. Today is what we have come to call Transfiguration Sunday. This morning we have the opportunity to get a glimpse of Jesus’ relationship with His special friends, Peter, James and John, the three closest disciples who are often known as Jesus’ inner circle. What a treat they received on the mountain of transfiguration, even if they did not realize it at the time.
So, let us get right to our text. Our text begins by telling us that about eight days had gone by since the last events had taken place. Since the Epiphany season is short this year, we have skipped some events so, we might well ask, what were those last events. Those last events were the questioning of the disciples by Jesus concerning His identity, who other people thought He was and who His own disciples believed Him to be. Those last events included Peter’s confession for himself and his fellow disciples that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Now, after these eight days we are told that Jesus took, what we have called, His inner circle of disciples, Peter, James and John with Him, up on the mountain for the purpose of spending time in prayer. Certainly we see this as an example and a teaching for these disciples, and us of the importance of prayer. Jesus spent much of His time in prayer with His Father in heaven. If Jesus, who is true God, needed to spend time in prayer, how much more do we, in our own lives, need to spend time in prayer and Divine Service.
As Jesus was praying, we are told; and we are not necessarily told that Peter, James and John were praying, and perhaps that was their downfall; but as Jesus was praying, Peter, James and John fell asleep (v. 32). If this were simply a book of literature we may be told that this may be a foreshadowing of things to come. Remember, in the Garden of Gethsemane, as Jesus was in prayer on the night in which He was betrayed, the disciples fell asleep there as well.
Anyway, while they slept, Jesus was transfigured, He was changed. The appearance of His face was altered and His clothes became dazzling white. And He then met with Moses and Elijah. Remember, Jesus came to this earth, after giving up the glory that was His in heaven. He came as true God in human flesh in order to do for us what we are unable, in and of ourselves to do. Jesus came to live perfectly for us, in our place. Jesus came to obey all of God’s laws perfectly for us in our place, because we are unable, according to our inborn sinful nature to do so. And so, here come Moses and Elijah, we might say, to check up on Jesus. So, Jesus met Moses, the Law giver to make sure He had fulfilled all the Law, perfectly.
And Jesus met with Elijah. Elijah was one of the most revered prophets, at least during Jesus’ life. It was not the case during his own life. Yet, here is Elijah, the Prophet to make sure that Jesus had fulfilled all the prophecies, all the promises of God, perfectly.
I am sure that one of the things they discussed with Jesus was His departure, that is, His suffering, death, resurrection and ascension. Remember, back at Christmas we were reminded that this cute, precious baby whose birth we celebrated in a manger, this cute baby was born for one purpose, to die. Jesus came to restore our broken relationship with God the Father. The only way to restore that relationship was to pay the price for what broke that relationship. Sin broke our relationship with God the Father. Yes, Adam and Eve’s sin, but also our own sin. We daily sin much and are in need of forgiveness. And in and of ourselves, we are unable to restore our relationship with our Father in heaven. That is why Jesus came. Jesus was born, in the shadow of the cross. Jesus always had the cross in front of Him. And now, here, talking with Moses and Elijah, He was making sure that all things were in place for His death.
Finally, the disciples woke up. They saw Jesus in all His glory. They saw the two men, Moses and Elijah standing with Jesus. And notice that here too we get another glimpse of heaven and what heaven will be like. Notice that Peter does not have to ask, but he knows that this is Moses and Elijah as he proposes to build shelters, tents for Jesus, for Moses and for Elijah. How awesome, in heaven we will not need name tags. We will know everyone and we will be known by everyone.
And we are told that Peter made his suggestions about building the three shelters because he did not know what to say. Peter simply wanted to continue this wonderful “mountain top” experience. I believe that if we were in the same situation, we might have the same idea as Peter.
Moses and Elijah departed and we are told that a cloud enveloped them and then they heard the voice of God the Father from the cloud, testifying of Jesus, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to Him!” And then Jesus spoke and the disciples found themselves alone again with Jesus.
What a wonderful, grand, even mountain top experience. The disciples, Peter, James and John, had the opportunity to see Jesus in His heavenly glory, right here on earth. Certainly that was a sight to see. Unfortunately, for their sake, they were not able to share this event with the rest of the disciples, nor with anyone until after Jesus’ resurrection. As we are told, as they went down the mountain Jesus told them to tell no one about this event until after His ascension.
Okay, So what? First of all, we know that Jesus is truly human. He is a man, born of a woman. He is human just like you and me, except for one important detail, He never sinned. The reason Jesus was born as human was so that He could do for us what we are unable to do. We are conceived and born in sin. He was conceived and born in perfection. We daily sin much and are in need of forgiveness. He never sinned and has no need of forgiveness. We are separated from God the Father. Ours is a broken relationship, broken in the Garden of Eden and broken every time we sin. And we do sin. We break the commandments on a daily, if not hourly bases. Remember, if we only sinned thirty times a day, as a conservative estimate, times 365 days in a year, that is over 10,000 sins a year, times how old we are and we see that our sins add up. We cannot save ourselves. Left to ourselves we would be liable for all our sins, the price of which is death, even eternal spiritual death. Jesus shows He is human because we see Him get tired and hungry, have emotions as He cried for His friends, and so forth. Jesus is truly human and this is important so that He might be our substitute, that is so that He might give His life for ours.
Not only is Jesus truly human, He is truly divine, that is, He is God. Jesus is God in flesh. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, making Him truly divine. He shows that He is divine through the signs, wonders and miracles He performed, healing, casting out demons, raising the dead, walking on water, and so on. It is important that Jesus is truly God, because only God could do the things that Jesus did. It is important that He is God so that He might live perfectly for us.
As Christians, and as sinful human beings, we acknowledge that apart from Jesus and faith in Jesus we have no hope, only eternal separation from Jesus and eternal spiritual death. Even more important than our earthly relationships with family and friend, is our relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
At Christmas we celebrated the birth of the Christ child, born in Bethlehem, laid in a manger. At that time we were reminded that the baby was born for a purpose and that purpose was to suffer and die for our sins on the cross. That was God’s plan of salvation. This morning we continue to see God’s plan of salvation being worked out through Jesus. How does this salvation become ours? How do we gain access to God’s good gifts and blessings? Simple, God gives salvation and all His gifts and blessing to us. Jesus earned forgiveness on the cross and He gives it to us along with all His gifts and blessings. He gives them to you and He gives them to me. He gives them to us through the means that He has given us and that is through His means of Grace. Through the Word of God, which is not like any other book, but is a book with power and authority. Through His Word He gives us His good gifts and blessings. As we read and hear His Word, it does what it says, it gives forgiveness, it gives faith, it strengthens and keeps us in faith. And through His Sacraments, Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Through these means our Lord comes to give us His good gifts and blessings. And through confession and absolution our Lord gives us what He says, forgiveness of sins.
There is only one way to get to heaven and that is by being perfect. Thus, left to ourselves we would not have a chance. It is only as we are given forgiveness of sins, earned by Jesus’ perfect life, perfect suffering, death, and resurrection that we are given forgiveness. Thus, it is so important that we daily repent in order to daily be given His forgiveness which results in life and salvation. And He gives us this forgiveness through confession and absolution, through His Word and through Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which remind us of how important it is that we make regular and diligent use of these means, each and every Sunday and as often as offered, even during the Wednesday mid-week services of Lent and Advent.
To encourage us in our Christian faith and life, this morning we get a glimpse of Jesus’ glory and the glory which will be ours. The glory with which He will robe us, with His robes of righteousness when He gathers us and all the saints on the last day.
What is left? Simply giving thanks and praise. Everything has been done, for us and in our place. Jesus has accomplished everything for us. There is nothing left for us to do except give thanks to the Lord for all His good gifts and blessings. Certainly, we may refuse His gifts and we do that by not confessing our sins, not reading His Word, not being in Divine Service and Bible Class. Yet, our Lord continues to be patient, loving and forgiving. He is always working to draw us to Himself through His Word and Sacraments. May the Lord continue to work on you and in your life, calling you to faith, giving you faith, strengthening and keeping you in faith until Christ comes again. To Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.