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Holy Transfiguration! (St. Mark 9:2-9)

February 19, 2012

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St. Mark 9:2-9

An incredible scene!  I mean … really!  Have you seen anything like it?  Have you ever seen Jesus like this?  Have you?  Peter, James, John – and you — get to see Jesus like no one else before.  What a gift!  What a privilege!     

Do you see Him?  Don’t fall asleep now!  His divinity is leaking out all over the place!  His heavenly splendor is revealed full bore!  God of God!  Light of Light!  Very God of very God!  The “Kingdom of God has come with great power” (Mark 9:1) in Jesus Himself!  And so His face gleams like the sun!  His suit is dazzling white!  Lightning white!  White as light white!  If you ever wondered who Jesus is, let there be no more doubts!  The preacher from Nazareth is truly who He claims to be:  God in the flesh!  When you see Jesus you see God!  Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven!    

And now all of His heavenly glory is revealed!  God Jesus – face – clothes — all transfigured on the mountain!  Heaven’s brilliance!  Heaven’s majesty!  Heaven’s grandeur!  In, with, and under Jesus on the mountain!  Now wonder then that He’s holding conversation with the two greatest prophets of the Old Testament:  Moses and Elijah!  These two giant preachers longed to see the promised day of the Messiah!  All their preaching was geared toward the promised Messiah!  And now here He is on the mountain!  And so the two prophets once again give their undivided witness once again – to the Messiah!  He’s Jesus!  God in the flesh!     

Jesus – transfigured on the mountain – the kingdom of God on the earth!  Jesus – transfigured on the mountain – heaven on the earth!  Moses had been buried by God Himself.  Elijah was shuttled up to heaven in a fiery chariot.  Now both appear together with Jesus and both are alive and well!  And Peter, James and John know who they are!  No formal introductions.  No nametags.  The disciples had never seen Moses or Elijah and yet Peter knows exactly who they are.  This gives us a brief glimpse of heaven as a place where everyone knows your name.  And you know theirs!  No nametags.  No introductions. 

Transfigured, majestic in splendor Jesus is too much for the disciples.  They are shaking in their boots.  And they don’t know what to say.  Peter, however, is able to blurt out:  “Lord, great to be here!  Let’s keep your divinity in booths – tents.  One for you and two others for Moses and Elijah!  I’ll enshrine this event once and for all.  Memorialize it!  I’ll put up a plaque that reads:  ‘On this mountain Jesus revealed His glory!’  And then I’ll turn this place into a world-class retreat center complete with an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus golf course!  Yes, that’s the ticket!  I have spoken!”

Peter would take Jesus under his control.  Manage Jesus.  Be a Jesus handler.  Supervise what Jesus can and cannot do.  Would you join Peter in this endeavor?  Of course!  We love to be in charge.  Boss Jesus around.  “Stay here Jesus!  Don’t get off this mountain!”

However, do you realize what’s at stake here?  I mean, if you join with Peter to keep Jesus all tented up on the mountain, then He doesn’t go … where?  That’s right, Calvary!  And then He’s really of no use to you at all.  For then you’re keeping Him off the Cross and dying for all your sin!  No cross – no salvation!

Now, just imagine if Jesus, Moses, and Elijah suddenly appeared here at Trinity at the altar?  We’d all be dumbstruck!  Speechless!  Can you imagine the buzz in the community?  People from all over eastern Nebraska would line up on Church Road just to get a peek!  All the TV news trucks and reporters would be parked in the lot!  We’d have to hire extra ushers to hold off all the visitors and news folks from breaking down the south doors!  We might even consider clearing our calendars of everything – even of sporting events – in order to get a spot in one of the pews!  We might enter the nave with immense reverence and fear.  We would probably speak in hushed tones and bow our heads.  We wouldn’t want to leave.  Do you think anyone would say church at Trinity was boring if Moses and Elijah suddenly appeared with Jesus to proclaim His death and resurrection, His exodus?

And yet every Sunday we come into the same glorious presence of the transfigured Jesus together with all the angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven!  Every divine service and any other day we gather to hear God’s Word we are setting foot on a mountain with Jesus!  Every Sunday we receive forgiveness, life and salvation from Him.  Every Sunday Jesus preaches His Word to us and feeds us with His Body and Blood in the Sacrament. 

EVERY SUNDAY SOMETHING GREATER THAN THE TRANSFIGURATION TAKES PLACE!  Yes, that’s right!  I said it! EVERY SUNDAY SOMETHING GREATER THAN THE TRANSFIGURATION TAKES PLACE!  Every Sunday the King of God comes with great power as Jesus justifies the ungodly and declares them as saints by His words:  “I forgive you!”  The crucified and risen Jesus is here for us just as He was for Peter, James, and John on the mountain.  The only difference is that we can’t see Him.  

Nor would we really want to see Him.  Really!  After all, the sight of Jesus in His glory would be too much for us to bear!  Peter was left mumbling nonsense about some tents.  In the Book of Revelation, John saw Jesus in all His splendor and glory and he fell at Jesus’ feet like a dead man!  You and I would be in the same flat on our faces position!  For “no one can look at God and live.” 

Jesus, however, is kind and gentle with us.  He reserves His full blast glory for the Last Day.  Until then Jesus hides in humility.  So hidden is Jesus that most people – perhaps even you – pass by and don’t even notice Him.  So hidden is Jesus among us that I fear we forget that wherever the church is gathered in His Name, even if it is only two or three, He is there!  Physically present in all His divinity and humanity!

Now, the voice from the cloud puts our attention where it should be!  Not on what Peter says.  BUT JESUS!  The Father declares:  “This Jesus is my Son!  I love Him!  Listen to Him!”   

There you have it!  “Listen to Jesus!”  Why?

Because Jesus has the words of eternal life!  Because His words are Spirit and life!  Because Jesus is God’s sermon – God’s promise of complete and total mercy and forgiveness to you!  In former times God spoke by the prophets, by Moses and Elijah.  But now in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son Jesus! 

“Listen to Him,” the Father commands.  And that’s when Elijah and Moses disappear and the disciples are left only with Jesus!  “Listen to Him.”  Only Jesus! 

That’s the point of the Mount of Transfiguration.  And that’s what every divine service every Sunday is all about.  Only Jesus.  Only listening to Him!  For He is God’s beloved Son!  Only Jesus shines with the glory of God through our human flesh and blood.  Only Jesus bore your sin in His own body nailed to the tree.  Only Jesus rose bodily from the grave never to die again.  Only Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father to pray for you, to forgive you, and to give you life in His name.  Only Jesus reveals the glory of God to save you and deliver you.

St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians and us:  “We who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory.”  As the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy given have their way with us, we too are being transfigured, changed from the inside out.  Changed to be like Him.  At the moment that work is hidden under great weakness for our bodies get fatter, older and weaker by the minute.  But on the Last Day when Jesus appears in glory, this time for the whole universe to see, He will change our bodies to be like His glorious body!  And what a Day of Transfiguration that will be!

That’s Jesus promise.  And He will keep it.

In the Name of Jesus.         

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