Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sermon for 1/20/13--Transfiguration of Our Lord

A Glimpse of Glory
Matthew 17:1-9

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen

Surprising as it may seem, there was really nothing new in the Lord's Transfiguration. The glory that shone forth from Jesus on the mountain was the glory that was rightfully His. When the Son of God came in flesh, He did not leave the glory of His Godhead behind. He did not become less than God. He wraps that heavenly glory up in human flesh. You do not see the bright and shining light of heaven's glory in the stable at Bethlehem as Christ is bedded there in weakness and humility. Hanging in agony on the cross, He dies the death of a common criminal. Where is the glory of God in all of this? It is hidden in the flesh of Jesus. So to see Jesus is to behold the very glory of God. That's why the Apostle John writes “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth.

But now, for a brief moment, the glory that was hidden in His flesh and visible only to the eye of faith is made fully apparent. His flesh no longer veils His glory; instead that glory shines with the light of God. Matthew reports that His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. As that is happening, Moses and Elijah, representative of the law and the prophets, stand and speak with Him. What a sight! Jesus shines with unborrowed light while Moses and Elijah carry on a conversation with Him.  The boredom of the disciples gives way to enthusiasm. “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Before Peter can finish explaining his foolish plan, a bright cloud overshadows the scene and out of the cloud the voice of God the Father declares, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!

The glory God is a marvelous thing. That being said, it’s all too easy to focus on God’s glory. It’s easy to get bored with the everyday Jesus. It’s all too easy to forget that it was in His state of humiliation that He performed His greatest work on the behalf of sinners: taking on flesh, bearing the sins of the world on His sinless body, dying the death that is the wages of sin which only sinners deserve. But the transfiguration made apparent who Jesus is. Peter’s enthusiasm skyrocketed. This is the Jesus who excites. Of course, the vision soon ceased and Jesus and His disciples went down from that mountain; and they made their way toward another mountain, Mount Calvary, where He would suffer and die bearing our sin and shame. The transfiguration points to Calvary and beyond the cross to the glory of Jesus Christ in His heavenly kingdom.

The transfigured Christ is the Christ who was crucified for us and raised in glory as our Brother and our Savior. What Peter, James, and John witnessed in our Lord's transfiguration, we are given here today in the Divine Service as we stand in the presence of Jesus Christ according to both His divine and human nature. We have the prophetic word made more sure. That is, we have the words of Moses and Elijah fulfilled in the sinless life, the atoning death, and victorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Father's voice from the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him.”  And He is speaking here, this morning, as His words are read and proclaimed in preaching. He is speaking here as in the words of absolution, He says to you, “I forgive you all your sins.” He is speaking here as He says, “Take eat this is My body, given for you;” and, “Take drink, this cup is the new testament in my blood shed for the forgiveness of your sins.” Heaven intersected with earth on the mountain of the transfiguration as Jesus was revealed as the Son of the Father. That same thing is what happens in the Divine Service.

Like Moses who stood on holy ground when He stood barefoot before the burning bush, you stand here in the presence of God. Like Peter, James, and John who stood before the transfigured Lord, you stand in the presence of the incarnate Savior, the One who is both true God and true Man. He is here. As He touched the disciples and pulled them out of their fear with His Word so He comes to you today. In the midst of this world of sin and suffering, Jesus gives you a glimpse of the glory that is yet to come, the glory that you are destined for in His heavenly kingdom. It is the glory of His presence. It is the glory that you behold by faith when you eat His body and drink His blood, given and shed for the forgiveness of your sins. It is the glory that one day you will behold with your own eyes, as you will stand before Him, lost in wonder, love, and praise.  In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.  

No comments: