The Transfiguration of Our Lord – “Changed” (Matthew 17:1-9)

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon is the Gospel, which was read earlier.

Have you ever found yourself in this situation: you’re going about your business as usual when suddenly you find yourself in the presence of greatness? Suddenly, out of nowhere, you find yourself rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, a celebrity or music artist? Unless you’re privileged to have an all-access or backstage pass, most of the time we do find ourselves interacting with the celebrity crowd. If we are lucky to do so, I’m sure those times are few and far between. As we look at our Gospel account of the Transfiguration, we see briefly of what it is like to have that all-access pass, in this case, to the fullness of God’s glory as seen in Jesus Christ.

I’m sure the day started out as just any other day for Peter, James, and John. I imagine they got up, put on their tunic and sandals, had some breakfast and then followed Jesus as they had every day for the last three years. I would venture to guess that if you were to ask Peter, James, or John if today was going to be any different than the day before or the day after, the answer would most likely be no.

As Jesus takes these three men up on top of the mountain, ideally to pray as Jesus often did with His disciples, the tone changed. In fact, everything about the day had changed. Matthew records for us, “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” Up until this point, Jesus hid His full godliness from the people, the disciples included. He looked like a man, for He was man. The people followed Jesus and believed in His teaching, including believing that He was the Son of God even though He didn’t look like what the Son of God would look like. Now suddenly, Jesus was transfigured before them. But what did that mean?

When our English language translates the Greek word as “transfigured,” do we understand what that means? The Greek word there is “metamorpho,” where we get the word “metamorphosis.” We understand that word as meaning to change form, a word often used to denote the change from say a caterpillar to butterfly, for instance. That same thinking and reasoning is seen here with Jesus.

Christ’s appearance was changed and was resplendent with divine brightness on the Mount of Transfiguration. Christ was changed in that the disciples with Him no longer saw Jesus as just a man – now they saw the fullness of God’s glory revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. This was God removing the veil that covered the divine nature of Jesus. Peter, James, and John were able to witness for themselves the fullness of God as revealed in Jesus Christ.

We see a marked difference at what happens on the Mount of Transfiguration and the time of Moses. In Moses’ day, he was told by God, “You cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” At the time of Jesus, things are changed a bit. Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father except through me…. Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

You want to know who God is? The fullness of God is now seen through Jesus at His Transfiguration. Jesus had told His disciples repeatedly that He was God, and He had demonstrated that fact through the performance of miracles. Yet, here He is making a very visible statement about His divinity. There, Peter, James and John stood before Christ in all of His divine glory. If the Three had any doubts before of who Jesus was, this was all the convincing they needed. But it didn’t stop there. Before their eyes stood Moses and Elijah: Moses, the man of God through whom the Law was delivered on stone tablets. And with him was Elijah, representing the prophets who foretold of the coming Savior, and who endured the worst of times among God’s people. And finally, to top it off, they were overshadowed in a cloud and heard the voice of God. Jesus’ disciples were not dreaming. They actually saw two individuals who had died centuries before this time. How Peter, James, and John were able to correctly identify these two people as Moses and Elijah we are not told. But these disciples were experiencing a little glimpse of heaven. Their lives were changing right before their eyes.

With everything going on here, with a transfigured and veil-ripped away Jesus, with Old Testament icons such as Moses and Elijah, who would ever want this to end? Peter obviously didn’t want it to end; hence why he says to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” When you have all of Scripture present here, how can you not want this moment to end! To see the full glory of God, that alone was worth going up on the mountain with Jesus. And then you add great historical figures of the faith with men like Moses and Elijah, it truly is heaven on earth! And with all of that, the day isn’t over yet!

It seems like it’s been forever since we heard the Father’s voice. The last we heard from Him was at Jesus’ Baptism. Now, God the Father makes a reappearance and echoes the same sentiment at Jesus’s Baptism: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” The lives for the disciples would be forever changed with the words Jesus would speak. Those words would indeed be life-changing words, for they will declare that their sins would be forgiven by His death upon the cross.

We need the Jesus who came to the disciples and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” We need the Jesus who led these three disciples down from the Mount of Transfiguration. We need the Jesus who made His way to another mountain, Golgotha, the place of the skull. On that mountain, Jesus will express the inner most being of God in sweat and blood, pain and suffering, and, ultimately death and burial. It is through that suffering and death on the cross that Jesus earned our justification. It is through that suffering and death on the cross that Jesus took away our sin and replaced it with His righteousness. It is Jesus working through the cross who offers us forgiveness, life, and salvation. It is Jesus who takes away the burden of our sin and makes it possible for us to stand in the presence of God. It is the glory of Christ on the cross that gives the glory of eternal life to us, glory manifested at His Transfiguration and fully shown to us on the cross where He won for us the forgiveness of our sins. In Jesus name, amen. Now the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.

Transfiguration of Our Lord – “Come to an End” (Luke 9:28-36)

C-29 Transfiguration (Lu 9.28-36)Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon is the Gospel, which was read earlier.

It seems, at times, that some things are never going to end. For instance, the red light seems as if it will never turn green, or that cold you have acts as if it has set up permanent shop and you will never be healthy again. Or there are those times that seems like our struggles will never end and that things will never go right for us. Turning to today’s Gospel, Jesus has a message for us about things that will end and things that will not end.

Luke begins this portion of his Gospel by saying, “Now about eight days after these sayings….” We need to ask the question: what were these sayings? About eight days before, Jesus had asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter had responded with that great confession of faith: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” So far, things seem to be going good.

But what Jesus said next must have sounded anything but good to the disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Needless to say, that’s a lot for the disciples to take in. Being raised from the dead, that must have sounded mysterious. The part about being killed, well, that was all too clear of a message.

They barely had time to digest what Jesus just said when He followed up with words that were even more difficult, words that applied directly to them: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” That was what lay ahead for these men. Their Messiah would be killed and they would have lives of daily cross-bearing.

And now that brings us back to today, some eight days after our Lord spoke these ominous sayings. He takes with Him the “Big Three” of the disciples – Peter, James, and John. Their destination – a mountain to pray. Nothing out of the ordinary here, just Jesus and the disciples going to pray. It seems like just another, ordinary day; that is, until they get up to the mountain: “And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”

Great men of old, dead for hundreds of years, faces unknown to the these disciples, are immediately recognized as Moses and Elijah. God’s Word is fully revealed here on the mountain: the Law, the Prophets, and the Gospel all in one place at one time. What joy it must have been to be there on the mountain and to see all of this take place. Here on the mountain, God peels back the lid of His shekinah, His glory, and the disciples get a small glimpse of the true majesty of God as revealed in the Word of God made flesh.

If you could pick one event that you don’t want to end, this would be it. To be in the presence of the fathers of the faith and in Jesus in His full glory, who would ever want to leave? But alas, things cannot stay like this forever. Things must go back to the way they were before. In doing so, Jesus gives His disciples a much-needed lesson in things that will last and things that will not last.

Unfortunately, Jesus will not be with the disciples forever. The time is drawing near that Jesus will set His face before Jerusalem, and when He does, there is no turning back. Despite the disciples’ best efforts, Jesus can not be tempted, Jesus cannot be convinced to turn away from Jerusalem and what that means for Him – it means His death.

What lies before Jesus is suffering and death. It means the disciples will be without their Leader, their Friend. It means that the world will be left without its Messiah, or so it would appear.

Remember the words that Jesus speaks to the disciples as He commissions them to go out and preach the Gospel: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Though Jesus does not remain in body, His work ever remains present in the salvation that He wins for us upon Calvary’s cross. His Word remains present for us, a word that speaks salvation to all who hear and believe it, a Word that gives life to those who are dead in sin and trespasses. He remains ever-present in the life-giving waters of Holy Baptism and in His eternal life sustaining body and blood in His Holy Supper.

Just as Peter declared to Jesus that it was good for them to be there, so it is good for us to be here today. We come today to where God has said He will be found. We come together so that we may hear the words of Moses, Elijah, and Jesus; the Law, the Prophets, and the Gospel. We come here today to receive from the Lord’s bounty forgiveness of sins that have been won for us by Jesus Christ on the cross. We come here today to receive the very body and blood of Jesus. We do not come merely because God commands it but we come because He invites us. He invites us to come before Him, to confess our sins and to hear that word of absolution pronounced upon us. We come because Jesus Himself invites us to His Table, feeding us with the bread of life.

A moment like the Transfiguration would not be complete without God Himself being present. He comes with His almighty voice, speaking to the disciples: “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” Hearing the voice of God was usually reserved for those of great stature, such as Moses, Abraham, David and other prominent leaders of the Old Testament. Yet God saw fit to come to Peter, James, and John to tell them to cast aside any fears, any doubts that they may have, both today and in the future.

Just as He did at the Baptism of Jesus, God the Father addresses mankind. This man Jesus is the beloved and chosen Son of God. At that point, God establishes for mankind who they should listen to; not the things of this world, but to the Son of God. How easy it is for us to give in and listen to what the world says because it’s what our itching ears want to hear. We don’t always focus our attention on the things of God, the promised salvation that comes through His Son, the love shown by Christ for the Father, a love willing to be put to death so that creation would once again belong to the Father. But the words that Jesus speaks to us are the words that we need to hear. Today, we boldly say, “Master, it is good that we are here.” In Jesus’ name, amen. Now the peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.

Transfiguration of Our Lord – “Mountain Experiences” (Matthew 17:1-9)

A-26 Transfiguration (Mt 17.1-9)Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon is the Gospel, which was read earlier.

Mountains are a beautiful expression of God’s creation. They are great in size but can also be small in size. They can be snow covered year round or green year round. When it comes to the Bible, God uses mountains time and time again to convey His Word of Law and Gospel to His people. Today, as we end the season of Epiphany, we find Jesus on a mountain and things will never be the same again for three of His disciples.

On the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John received a preview of heavenly glory. They were privileged to see a display of Jesus’ divine glory, the glory that was His as the Son of God, although it was only occasionally and partially revealed during His time on earth.

There must have been something special about these three disciples of Jesus, for on a number of special occasions did these three and none of the other disciples accompany Jesus. Today would indeed prove to be a very special occasion, as they would serve as witnesses, who in due time, could tell the world what they saw and heard there on the mountain.

There on the mountain, Jesus was transfigured before the disciples. The word would be one that you would recognize, metamorphosis. But this was more than just passing through various stages of evolving like a caterpillar to a butterfly. This was a complete change of Jesus, in that His full divinity became apparent. Matthew says, “his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” This reminds us of the brightness of Moses’ face when he came down from Mount Sinai, but there Moses was only reflecting the glory of God. It reminds us of the glory of the Lord that shone around the shepherds at Bethlehem on the night of Jesus’ birth and of the bright shining angel at the tomb of Jesus on Easter morning. Here we see the full glory of God reflected in Jesus Christ.

This was a spectacle to see if there was ever a spectacle. We see the human nature of Christ and even His clothing was completely immersed with the brilliance of the divine nature. For most of the 33 years Jesus lived visibly in our world, He emptied Himself of the use of that divine glory. He masked His divine nature behind His human nature. On this occasion the Father permitted His Son’s divine nature to shine through the human shell.

Things start to happen, things that should seem impossible. Following the full glory of God being revealed in Jesus, Moses and Elijah appear on the mountain and begin talking to Jesus as if it’s just another day. Moses, the great representative of the Law, was God’s messenger for the Israelites. He led them to the Promised Land, though he himself was not permitted to enter. Moses died at Moab and was buried by the LORD Himself. Elijah, the great representative of prophecy, also appeared. Elijah was taken up to heaven bodily without experiencing death. Now they both stood before the three disciples talking with Jesus.

As far as Peter was concerned, the sight was remarkable, and it truly was. He wanted to freeze the scene as it was. He wished to put everyday life on hold. He wanted to preserve this glorious moment. Peter wanted to keep everything as it was, so that these famous guests could remain where they were and so that Jesus could remain as He was. Who could really fault Peter for wanting this? When you have Moses, the great lawgiver and face of God’s people, would you want to give him up? When you have Elijah, the great prophet of old, who would want to send him away?

It was “good” for those three disciples to be there, and it is good for us to witness this amazing display of the Savior’s glory. In a short time, Jesus would endure the brutal agony and indignity of the cross. This glimpse of Jesus’ glory was meant to remind the three disciples—and it reminds us—that Jesus was and ever is the eternal Son of God.

If things could not have been extraordinary enough, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”” Here you are on a mountain with Jesus, minding your own business. Suddenly, you see the full glory of God reflected in Jesus. Next,  Moses and Elijah appear out of nowhere and begin having a conversion with Jesus. That alone is a sight to behold. But then you hear the voice of God speak. But there would be more to this story, more to this mountain.

The Mount of Transfiguration points us to an even more important mountain, this time, Mount Calvary. Here we see the full glory of God revealed, there on Calvary we see the full love of God displayed. St. Paul says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Here on the Mount of Transfiguration we see Moses and Elijah. There on Calvary we see Jesus as fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. There on Calvary we see the how far God would go to forgive us our sins — all the way to the cross.

Jesus is shown to be the only one who can deal with our sin. Only Jesus fulfills the Law, has all power, and lives the glory of God. It is only Jesus who can save us from our sin. Jesus worked our salvation for the glory of God. By Jesus’ holy life, death on Calvary, and resurrection is God’s plan of salvation fulfilled. Through faith in Him, you are forgiven and have eternal life.

On the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter sought to stay on the mountain forever with Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. He was focused on the here and now. What he failed to realize was that Jesus was not destined for this mountain, but He was destined for another mountain, one that would bring about salvation for all of mankind.

The voice of God speaks and tells us to listen to Jesus. That means we do not add or subtract from salvation through Jesus Christ. All of Scripture points to Him, including that of Moses and Elijah.

Jesus showed us who He truly is with His transfiguration. His ordinary appearance showed that He is true man. His transfigured appearance showed that He is true God. This will help the disciples survive the events of Jesus’ Passion. This will remind all Christians that their sins are truly paid in full.

So what does this mean for us? It means that the work of Christ is complete. It means that God the Father is pleased with the atoning sacrifice of Christ and that salvation is assured for the believer. It means that salvation is assured for you. From the Mount of Transfiguration to Mount Calvary, we see His glory in the salvation He has won for us. In the name of Jesus, amen. Now the peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.

Transfiguration of Our Lord–“Mountains” (Luke 9:28-36)

C-29 Transfiguration (Lu 9.28-36)Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon is the Gospel, which was read earlier.

Mountains. Have you ever noticed the number of times mountains appear in the Scriptures? At a quick glance in a concordance, the words mountain or mountains appears 335 times. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights that take place on a mountain. Moses received the 10 Commandments on a mountain. Jesus, on several occasions, took His disciples and taught from a mountain. The people would come to a mountain to see or hear Jesus. And today, Jesus is once again on a mountain, this time with three of His disciples to pray. The experience that the three disciples had was a changing experience. The lesson: “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”

Verses before our text for today, Jesus told His disciples what was to come: “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Hearing news like that would be quite unsettling to say the least. Imagine if a loved one were to share that type of news with us. What would our reaction be to such news? News like this would be hard to comprehend. When Jesus went up to the mountain, He took these three disciples with Him, maybe for that very reason, to help further explain what He had previously said.

While there on the mountain, something extraordinary happened: And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white.” That must have been a sight to behold. They had walked from their last place, up on a hill in the dust and dirt. They were probably dust-covered, sweaty, and just all around dirty, much like we are. In our present state, we are covered in sin and death and all that keeps us from God. We can’t make ourselves clean, we can’t remove our sin, regardless of how hard we try.

The only way to remove all that hinders us from God is to be a part of Christ. This is what God desperately wants of creation, for it to be connected to Him. That is the whole point of Jesus. The only way for you to be connected to God is by Jesus, not by you. That is why God the Father’s words are so important in our text: “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”

So it is that as we start today’s reading from the account of Luke, we learn that Jesus led a very confused and bewildered Peter, John, and James up on the mountain to pray. Peter, John, and James did what they usually do when they are alone with Jesus while He prayed: they went to sleep. What they saw when they woke up blew them away. Jesus was shining like the sun. Not only was Jesus lighting up the mountaintop, but He was also having a conversation with Moses and Elijah. This conversation was pretty amazing for the simple fact that Moses and Elijah had been dead for centuries. We have an account of Moses’ death and burial in today’s Old Testament lesson.

But as it stood, here was God’s Word present, from start to finish. You had Moses, the representation of the old covenant and the promise of salvation, God’s ever-present Law. There also stood Elijah, one of the great prophets, taken to heaven. Moses and Elijah together equaled what Christ is: the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. The topic at hand: Christ’s upcoming exodus, for you, for me, and for all of creation. His exodus, His death, marked not a defeat as Satan had hoped, but instead was a triumph, one that would set all of creation free from sin and death.

When Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him, they were unsure of what they were seeing and hearing. Maybe it was because they were still sleepy. Maybe it was because they were not meant to understand just yet. Regardless, there they were on the mountain, with the Law and the Prophets and the Gospel.

When they finally awoke from their slumber and saw what was going on around them, it must have been remarkable. A simple visit to a mountain to pray had turned into a visit between Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. Maybe Peter, James, and John happened to be in the right place at the right time. That would explain why Peter exclaimed that it was good for them to be there. And in the event they were going to be there for a while, Peter suggested putting up shelters for them. It was very likely that Peter wanted this moment in time to continue indefinitely, especially after hearing of Jesus’ impending death. It was far better to stay there on the mountain than to leave and face Jesus’ prediction of His death.

Just as Peter declared to Jesus that it was good for them to be there, so it is good for us to be here today. We come today to where God has said He will be found. We come together so that we may hear the words of Moses, Elijah, and Jesus; the Law, the Prophets, and the Gospel. We come here today to receive from the Lord’s bounty forgiveness of sins that have been won for us by Jesus Christ on the cross. We come here today to receive the very body and blood of Jesus. We do not come merely because God commands it but we come because He invites us. He invites us to come before Him, to confess our sins and to hear that word of absolution pronounced upon us. We come because Jesus Himself invites us to His Table, feeding us with the bread of life.

A moment like the Transfiguration would not be complete without God Himself being present. He comes with His almighty voice, speaking to the disciples: “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” Hearing the voice of God was usually reserved for those of great stature, such as Moses, Abraham, David and other prominent leaders of the Old Testament. Yet God saw fit to come to Peter, James, and John to tell them to cast aside any fears, any doubts that they may have, both today and in the future.

Just as He did at the Baptism of Jesus, God the Father addresses mankind. This man Jesus is the beloved and chosen Son of God. At that point, God establishes for mankind who they should listen to; not the things of this world, but to the Son of God. How easy it is for us to give in and listen to what the world says because it’s what our itching ears want to hear. We don’t always focus our attention on the things of God, the promised salvation that comes through His Son, the love shown by Christ for the Father, a love willing to be put to death so that creation would once again belong to the Father. But the words that Jesus speaks to us are the words that we need to hear. Today, we boldly say, Master, it is good that we are here.” In Jesus’ name, amen. Now the peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.

Transfiguration of Our Lord – “Changing Lives” (Matt. 17:1-9)

A-26 Transfiguration (Mt 17.1-9)Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon this morning is the Gospel, which was read earlier.

It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? From the celebration of the Epiphany of our Lord to today, the Transfiguration of Our Lord, we have experienced something that we won’t experience again for another 27 years, or until 2038: we celebrate the entire season of Epiphany. That means we have heard some texts from Scripture that share more of what the Church was like at the time of Christ and shortly there-after: it was rough. It was ugly. It was not what we would think of the Church as being. During the time of Christ, there were groups who sought to put our Lord to death because He made what they thought to be heretical claims, such as being the Son of God and dying and rising from the dead three days later. For Paul, some 25 or so years later, we hear how the Church of Corinth was slowly tearing itself apart from the inside out, setting up faction against faction. Some of the other churches which Paul either visited or formed began to throw out the teachings of Christ and reverting to their previous ways, or accepting the worship of idols and the like as part of their worship. This was the Church, in all of its glory. Praise be to God that this was not a picture of the entire Christian Church, but it was a picture of what can happen when the Church moves away from Christ. But when the Church is firmly rooted in Christ, then it is life-changing.

Today in our Gospel reading, we experience an event that was life-changing. Our text begins: “After six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.”

Jesus had just begun to show His disciples that God’s plan for Him as the Christ will take Him to Jerusalem to suffer and die and rise to eternal life. Instead of taking all of the disciples with Him, Jesus chose to take with Him Peter, James, and John. Sometimes referred to as the Three because they were present with Jesus on special occasions, such as this and again in the Garden of Gethsemane, these men were present when a life-changing event took place. They saw the transfigured Jesus, that is, the Jesus who shone with glory “like the sun.” His clothes became white as light. What occurred to Jesus’ appearance and form was as drastic a change as a caterpillar becoming a butterfly or a tadpole becoming a frog. Here, in this moment, Jesus was allowing some of the splendor of His divine nature to show through.

Indeed, Jesus had told His disciples repeatedly that He was God, and He had demonstrated that fact through the performance of miracles. Yet, here He is making a very visible statement about His divinity. There, Peter, James and John stood before Christ in all of His divine glory. If the Three had any doubts before of who Jesus was, this was all the convincing they needed. But it didn’t stop there. Before their eyes stood Moses and Elijah: Moses, the man of God through whom the Law was delivered on stone tablets. And with him was Elijah, representing the prophets who foretold of the coming Savior, and who endured the worst of times among God’s people. And finally, to top it off, they were overshadowed in a cloud and heard the voice of God. Jesus’ disciples were not dreaming. They actually saw two individuals who had died centuries before this time. How Peter, James, and John were able to correctly identify these two people as Moses and Elijah we are not told. But these disciples were experiencing a little glimpse of heaven. Their lives were changing right before their eyes.

Peter, experiencing this life-changing event wanted to build shelters there on the mountain because he didn’t want the experience to end. Maybe he had the idea that eventually Israel and even the whole world could come to this mountain top and worship the Lord.  Peter did not understand that there was an even greater mountain top experience waiting in the future.

But that wasn’t the only life being changed on the mountain. The life of Jesus was being changed as well.

Within about nine months, Jesus would enter into the depths of His humiliation by being arrested, mocked, tortured, cruelly executed on a cross, and buried in a tomb. Above all this, He had told his disciples that He would triumph by rising from the dead. His transfiguration certainly authenticated that claim. His life would forever be changed at His Transfiguration as He begins to set His eyes to Jerusalem, where lives would forever be changed, including yours and mine.

As Jesus sets His eyes to Jerusalem, lives are about to change. The disciples’ lives would be forever changed when their Friend, their Leader, would be led to the cross and die. The lives of the Pharisees and Sadducees would be changed because Public Enemy #1 was no longer interfering in their lives and their teachings and so they could go back to business as usual. Your life would be forever changed because of the sacrificial act of Jesus Christ on your behalf.

The Transfiguration on this mountain points God’s creation to another mountain-top experience: Calvary. There, we see the extent of the love of God for us: the sacrifice of His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. There, on the cross of Christ, your life was changed forever. At that moment, your sins became Christ’s sins and His righteousness became your righteousness. What should have damned us has been taken from us. That which is not deserved, that is, Christ’s holiness, was given to us.

Lives continue to be changed even today when we heed the words of God spoken to Peter, James, and John: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him. Why is it so important to listen to the words of Jesus? There are many other words that we could listen to that sound just as good. But we listen to the words of Jesus because of the promises which He gives to us. He gives to us great words of comfort when He says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He gives to us the great promise following His resurrection: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Just as Jesus spoke to the Three, He speaks to us as well: “Rise, and have no fear.” There is no reason we should fear. We know that all of the promises made to us by God have been fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

As we prepare for our journey to Calvary, we make ready for another mountain-top experience. On that mountain Jesus will express the inner most being of God in sweat and blood, pain and suffering, and, ultimately death and burial.  It is through that suffering and death on the cross that Jesus earned our salvation.  It is through that suffering and death on the cross that Jesus took away our sin and replaced it with His righteousness.  It is Jesus working through the cross who offers us forgiveness, life, and salvation.  It is Jesus who takes away the burden of our sin and makes it possible for us to stand in the presence of God.  It is the glory of Christ on the cross that gives the glory of eternal life to us, glory manifested at His Transfiguration and fully shown to us on the cross where He won for us the forgiveness of our sins. In Jesus name, amen. Now the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.

Transfiguration of Our Lord

A-26 Transfiguration (Mt 17.1-9)

O God, in the glorious transfiguration of Your beloved Son You confirmed the mysteries of the faith by the testimony of Moses and Elijah. In the voice that came from the bright cloud You wonderfully foreshowed our adoption by grace. Mercifully make us co-heirs with the King in His glory and bring us to the fullness of our inheritance in heaven; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Readings

Exodus 24:8-18
2 Peter 1:16-21
Matthew 17:1-9