Monday, February 16, 2015

Sermon for The Transfigruation of Our Lord: "From Glory to Glory"

+ Transfiguration of our Lord – February 15th, 2015 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series B: 2 Kings 2:1-12; 2 Corinthians 3:12-18, 4:1-6; Mark 9:1-9
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Students, again…make sure you essay has a clear introduction and a strong conclusion, so your readers know what your main point is from beginning to end.”
Maybe your teachers were like mine and pounded that lesson into your head week after week in English class.
St. Mark’s account of Jesus’ Transfiguration is similar. Of course, Mark isn’t writing an essay or an op-ed piece, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. It’s God’s living, active, life-giving Word. And it’s history and narrative.
So Mark does what all good writers do. Jesus’ Transfiguration begins with a clear introduction and ends with a strong conclusion, from beginning to end the main point is: The glory of Jesus’ Transfiguration points to his glorious death and resurrection for us.
Jesus’ words about his dying and rising bookend his transfiguration.
Before they head up the mountain, Jesus foretells his resurrection, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.”
And…as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 
Everything that happens in between – Jesus transfiguration; the conversation with Moses and Elijah; the holy cloud; and the Father’s voice from heaven –points us from the mount of transfiguration to Mt. Calvary. Everything said and done on the mountain reveals that… 
The glory of Jesus’ transfiguration points to his glorious crucifixion and resurrection for us.
Mark makes this all the more clear for us by placing Jesus’ Transfiguration smack dab in the middle Jesus’ three death and resurrection predictions in Mark 8, 9, and 10.
The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected…and be killed, and after three days rise again.
This is no coincidence. Jesus wants to show us that his transfiguration is inseparable from his death and resurrection.
This is why Jesus instructed Peter, James and John to be silent, to not post their Transfiguration pictures on Facebook or send out some Tweets and Snapchats about their totally awesome mountain getaway with Moses and Elijah. They wouldn’t understand until after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.
Today we stand on the mountain with Peter, James, and John, overlooking the valley of Lent with the cross and the empty tomb on the horizon. Jesus’ transfiguration in radiant white gives us a glimpse of what the angel, also clad in brilliant white robes, will announce in 7 weeks. Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified One. He is not here. He is risen.
Even at Jesus Transfiguration and resurrection, Jesus is always the Crucified One for you. This is why we display crosses in our homes, churches, or artwork, whether it’s an empty cross or a crucifix, the message is always the same: Jesus is crucified for you.
For the glory of Jesus’ transfiguration points to his glorious crucifixion and resurrection for us.
James, Peter, and John needed Jesus’ transfiguration for all that would take place on the way to Jerusalem, and during Holy Week. Knowing the end of the story sustains us through our Lenten journey. As we plunge into the season of Lent we do so with a glimpse of Jesus’ resurrection. As we go down the mountain into the valley for 40 days we bid the Alleluias farewell for a season, knowing they’ll return on Easter.
And this is true throughout life as well. In the crosses we bear in this veil of tears, as we face illness, suffer and wrestle with our sin and temptation, even in our darkest days, the glory of Christ’s transfiguration, and the greater glory of his death and resurrection sustains us. Though Jesus dies in utter darkness, Christ crucified is our greatest light in our night of sin. We know the end of the story: Jesus is transfigured. Crucified. Risen. For you.
Epiphany leads to Lent. From the mount of transfiguration to the mount of crucifixion. In Jesus’ suffering for us we see God’s glory. Jesus’ transfiguration tells us how we should see Jesus.
This is the subject of Jesus’ Transfiguration summit as Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.
Luke’s Gospel says they were talking about Jesus’ exodus in Jerusalem. His suffering and death for us. The conversation on the mountain is spoken on earth as it is sung in heaven:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”
(Revelation 5)
Heaven and earth are joined at Jesus’ transfiguration, confessing the glory that is to come in Jesus’ death and resurrection. The witness of Moses, Mr. Torah, and the witness of Elijah, Mr. Prophet is that the Christ - the Messiah - must suffer, die, and rise for you. The entire Old Testament is witness to Jesus’ glorious crucifixion and resurrection for us.
This is My beloved Son; Listen to Him.
The Father’s words point us to Jesus’ Word. That’s where Peter found comfort and hope…in Jesus’ Word, especially after the resurrection. Jesus’ Word gives us hope, comfort, life, and salvation whether you’re feeling like you’ve had a glorious mountain top experience, or whether you’re in the valley of darkness.
Jesus knew Peter was afraid. Jesus knows our fears too. Fear is always our sin against God’s promises in the first commandment. So when our relationships are strained, finances are tight, futures are uncertain…we panic, turn inward on ourselves and lean on our own understanding rather than fear, love and trust in God above all things. It’s no different in the church. When giving goes down, when plans don’t go our way, when our friends constantly reject our invitations to church, we panic, turn inward, and lean on any other spiritual means of hope and comfort rather than fear, love, and trust in Christ’s word, water, body and blood to do what he promises they’ll do.
But Peter had no reason to fear. And neither do you.
Although Jesus’ glory was hidden. The cloud was gone. Moses and Elijah gone. The splendor, the mountain-top moment…the divine revelation all of - gone. But Jesus was not gone.
Suddenly looking around they no longer saw anyone…but Jesus only.
The glory of Jesus’ transfiguration points to his glorious crucifixion and resurrection for us.
Faith looks at the crucified Christ and says, “This is God’s beloved Son…for me.”
Faith receives the simple washing of water and Word in Baptism and says, God declares that I too am his beloved child.
Faith receives the absolution spoken by a fellow sinner and rejoices to hear Jesus’ voice: “I forgive you all your sin.”
Faith receives the holy supper and rejoices that the Jesus’ glory revealed in his transfiguration, death, and resurrection for us, is hidden in bread and wine.
Once again heaven comes to earth. You don’t need to go to the mountain to find God’s glory. Jesus brings the glory of his transfiguration, crucifixion, and resurrection to you personally in the waters of your Baptism, in Jesus’ body and blood in the Supper, in the spoken Word of forgiveness. The Scriptures, the Font, the Altar – here’s your mountain. Here’s where Jesus meets you and forgives you.
It is good, Lord, to be here.
And it is good to leave the mountain of transfiguration and journey to Mt. Calvary. For we are not given to stay on the mountain of transfiguration, but we are given to stay – and must stay – at the cross.
For…The glory of Jesus’ transfiguration points to his glorious crucifixion and resurrection for us.
A blessed Transfiguration and Lent to each of you…
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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