Monday, January 26, 2015

Sermon for 1/25/15: Transfiguration of Our Lord



Do Not Be Afraid

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

We believe with the certainty of faith that what the Bible says is true. The world laughs at Christians because of that. The world thinks we're stupid for following a book that was written thousands of years ago. As long as you hold the Bible to be the inspired and inerrant Word of God, the world will think you are an idiot. “It’s time to move on,” they say. “It’s time to think for yourself.” That is quite a temptation, isn't it? How well do you really know your Bible? Have you studied it and become familiar with it? Or do you see the Bible as the world sees it? Is it just old stories that are out of date and irrelevant for life in our fast paced modern world? The fact is, that would be a good perspective on the Bible if that's all it was. But it's not. It is the Word of God which delivers Jesus. That's why He's standing on that mountain and shining like the sun for His disciples to see.

And who is standing with Him? Moses and Elijah are there, representing the Law and the Prophets. They represent the Old Testament Church. What Peter, James, and John see—Jesus, flanked on either side by Moses the law-bringer and Elijah the prophet—means this: Jesus is what the Old Testament is about. The Old Testament is the Word of God because it shows us Jesus. It declares a promise that God has made—He would send a Savior. And it shows the way in which the Lord has worked things out to bring that promise to actually come to pass. The Old Testament was not written merely so that we could argue against evolution. The Old Testament wasn't written merely so that we can learn how to behave. The Old Testament isn't just a bunch of stories that the Jews told to convince themselves they were special. The Old Testament is the testimony and record of the Lord working out His promise that He would save sinners.

But it doesn't stop with the Old Testament. What does the Father say from the bright cloud? "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him." That's right. Listen to Him. Hear what He says. Hear His Word. And what does His Word say? What Jesus has to say can be summed up in what He tells His disciples who are face down in the dirt and terrified: "Do not be afraid." What wonderful words! "Do not be afraid." "Do not be afraid" of the devil's lies, because I am the truth of God's Word. "Do not be afraid" of your sins, because I will pay for them with my suffering and death. "Do not be afraid" of death, because I will throw it down by my resurrection. "Do not be afraid" of being unclean, for I will wash you with water and the Spirit in Baptism. "Do not be afraid" of the things that trouble your conscience, because I will send preachers to proclaim forgiveness to my people. "Do not be afraid" of false gods, for I will give you the preaching of my cross. "Do not be afraid" of death, because I will give you my body and blood to eat and drink, and I will raise you up on the Last Day. "Do not be afraid" of anything in this world or even the world itself, because I have overcome the world.

It doesn't matter if the world laughs at you for believing God's Word. The world doesn't understand. The world denies the truth. But Peter reminds us in his epistle that they weren't making this stuff up. Peter was there as a witness on that mountain with Jesus. But even there Jesus teaches Peter that the big deal isn't what He can see, but the Word that Jesus speaks. So it is for you. We don't see Jesus on the mountain. But we have His touch upon us with water, bread and wine and His Word which says, "Do not be afraid." "Do not be afraid" of sin. "Do not be afraid" of death. "Do not be afraid" of the world and its doubts and lies. "Do not be afraid" of anything. Jesus is God's beloved Son, and in Christ through Baptism, so are you. And because of Jesus, the Father is well pleased with you. 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. 

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