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February 25, 2006

The Transfiguration of Our Lord                             Trinity Lutheran Church
26 February 2006                                                                                           Murdock, NE

+ Jesu Juva +

St. Mark 9:2-9

If you’re going to have a blow out big time power kingdom of God on the earth, you couldn’t ask for anything better than this.  Right?  Check it out!  Peter, James and John are on the top of a very high mountain.  Mount Sinai was huge in the Old Testament.  Moses, Ten Commandments, God’s holy mountain.  Elijah doing battle with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel.  And now today another mountain. 

And sure enough, Jesus is there.  What will it be this time?  What can top all his previous preaching, teaching, healings and exorcisms?  A Transfiguration.  That’s what!  The Lord’s transfigured.  His divinity leaks out before their very eyes.  Spills out all over the place.

Matthew’s account tells us that the Lord’s face shone like the sun.  Check out His clothes:  exceedingly white.  Bleach white.  No — whiter than bleach white.  Whiter than snow.  A pure white.  A holy white.    This is quite a Jesus.  He’s not just a man.  He’s divine.  He’s the divine King that the prophet Daniel saw in one of his visions (Daniel 7:9-14).  Who is given an everlasting big time power kingdom.  Over the entire world.  Over all peoples and nations.

No wonder that the biggest prophets of the Old Testament show up.  Ten Commandments Moses and Whirlwind Trip to Heaven Elijah.  Having a conversation with the everlasting power kingdom King Jesus. 

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Great and fearful stuff!  Talk about a mountain top experience!  Leaves you speechless.

Unless you’re Peter.  Always the one to act and speak up.  Even if he’s not sure what to do or say.  If he’s going to be crowned the future bishop of Rome, he’d better start acting like one and take charge.  Like he’s the enthroned one. 

So he does.  He speaks.  An encyclical.  Let’s call it:  Eternum Mountainous Experientum – loosely translated as “Eternal Mountain Top Experience.”    It goes like this:  “Listen here Jesus.  This is really nice.  Seeing your divinity and all.  Hearing the chat with the prophets.  I’ll see to it that your holy whiteness and power revealed here will never end.  I’ll see to it that Moses and Elijah will always be by your side.  All the nations and peoples should be gathered here with us to see your majesty on this mountain.  I know it’s short notice, but let’s enshrine this moment forever.  Tabernacles all around!  One for you!  One for Moses!  Another for Elijah!”

We don’t hear from James and John.  They must have agreed.  Or they were too afraid to disagree.  But what about you?  You’ve heard from Peter I.  What say you? 

Before we can answer — before the apostles get out their hammers, nails and saws – before they can forever enshrine the moment – there’s more big time stuff.  God stuff.  The Father’s there with His Son.  We know because He’s hidden in the glory cloud.  Just like the pillar of glory cloud in the Old Testament.  The Father’s there in the cloud.  And He speaks:  “This is My Son whom I love.  Listen to Him!” 

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Jesus is the eternal beloved Son of the Father.  The eternal kingdom power King.  Better listen to Him.  Not to Peter’s encyclical. 

And then all of a sudden there’s only Jesus. Gone are the prophets and the Father in the cloud.   Jesus remains.  But His divinity’s stopped leaking out.  Clothes and face back to normal.  Behold, the untransfigured Jesus.   

He will not stay on this mountain.  Can’t.  He’s going somewhere.  To do the big time power kingdom of God job that only He can do.  But not here.  Not this way.

The Peter way is for Jesus to stay transfigured and to set up shop in mountain tents.  Peter likes this show of power.  So do we.  That’s a Jesus we and Peter will trust.  A Jesus we and Peter can count on.  Almighty power in His face and clothes transfigured Jesus.  Transfiguration Central!  For Peter, you, and me:  In Almighty Transfigured Jesus we trust.   

The Jesus way is to do the big time kingdom of God power job.  In another way and on another mountain.  Mount Calvary.  Where He sinks into misery.  Betrayel.  Scorn.  Humiliation.  Crucifixion agony.  Where the spikes ruthlessly are hammered into His feet and hands.  Thorns adorn His head.  Body battered and bloody.  Enthroned on the Tree.  So deep He sinks.  Into His crucifixion death.  Eternal King Jesus dies.  Slumped.  Hung.  Breathless.  Cold.  The universe stands still.  Dead darkness as creation weeps for the God who created it all.

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What kind of God is that?  The Jesus kind.  King Jesus who goes into the deepest death to rescue sinners like you and me.  He gives Himself for you in this cruciform way. 

There is power in the Crucified King’s Death.  Power of such immensity and enormity.  For the Blood spilled that Good Friday is the Blood of God Himself.  Offered into death for the salvation of the world!  Blood for sacrifice to atone for all sin.  Forgiveness.  Blood for cleansing – purification.  Blood for life – eternal life. 

Now you know why the Lord will not stay on the Mount of Transfiguration.  He’s has another mountain to do.  The Good Friday climb.  The Good Friday Death. 

For foolish Peter, James and John.  For you.  For your salvation.  For your forgiveness.  For your eternal life with Him. 

For you to trust.  You’re died for.  And you’re baptized.  Buried with Him into that Very Good Friday death.  And raised with Him for the new life of faith only in Him. 

And for you, the baptized, He gives to you His Holy Supper.  Body.  Blood.  The Calvary kind.  The Resurrection kind.  His.  With the bread and wine to eat and drink.  His Body and Blood given into death for the forgiveness of your sins.  Life.  Salvation.

Died for you are.  Baptized.  Lord’s Supper-ed.  You are saints.  Holy ones.  Children of God.  Temples of the Holy Spirit.

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The Lord Jesus remains here with you.  He will never leave you or forsake you.  No matter what.  Not even in death.  You’re safe there too.  

For on the Last Day He will raise your
body from the grave.  And then you will see who, what, and where you’ve always been:  in the transfigured, crucified, risen and ascended Christ Jesus.

See you on Ash Wednesday. 

In the Name of Jesus.   

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