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Transfigured FOR YOU!

March 2, 2014

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Transfiguration of Our Lord                                                Trinity Lutheran Church

2 March 2014                                                                              Murdock, NE

Matthew 17:1-9

Well, there He is!  Take a good look.  Who is this on the high mountain?  It’s hard to see.  After all, your eyes are blinded by His face that shines like the sun and by His clothes that are as white as pure light.  He’s flanked by the two greatest prophets of the Old Testament:  Moses and Elijah.  So who is it?

Preacher man Jesus?  Yes.  Can you say more?

I would remind you of the Old Testament reading.  Another mountain climb.  On the mountain Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and the seventy elders see, “the God of Israel” and under His feet “was something like a pavement made of sapphire clear as the sky itself.”

So, yes, Preacher man Jesus is on this mountain.  But here you are shown who He is.  Face beaming as the sun.  Clothes whiter than light itself.  The Preacher man is also God!  His divinity is leaking out all over the place for you to see.  He doesn’t try to cover it up.  Jesus gives you the truth.  He is God in the flesh.  Truly.  God of God and Light of light.  Very God of very God.  Begotten not made.  Being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made.

But He’s not God for Himself!  He’s God in the flesh FOR YOU!  To be God FOR YOU!

Here’s how Preacher-man-God-FOR-YOU-Jesus rolls.  He has a game plan.  He announced it six days earlier.  He is trekking to Jerusalem in order to suffer many horrible things.  To be betrayed, killed and then rise from the grave on the third day.  That’s quite a game plan!  It’s the salvation of the world game plan that consists of Him pulling off a stunner:  A Holy Week victory.

Not for Himself but FOR YOU and for your salvation!  That’s what the entire Old Testament prophesied.  And so there’s Moses and Elijah.  Holding a conversation with Jesus.  About His suffering, dying and rising.  The Cross and empty Tomb:  the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises of salvation for Israel and the world given by Moses, Elijah and all the prophets.  God Jesus redeems you, His sinners, from all their sin, death, and hell when He does His suffering under Pontius Pilate-crucified-died-buried-and raised from the tomb work.

Peter butts in to Jesus’ conversation with the prophets.  He wants to have his say too.    Issues an encyclical.  He wants to do something.  If he’s going to be the first bishop of Rome, then he just can’t sit there.  James and John may beat him to the punch.  Can’t have that.  “Pardon the interruption Lord.  Great for us to all be here isn’t it?  But if it’s OK with you Jesus, I’ve got a plan.  I know I haven’t prayed about it.  In fact, it’s quite off the cuff.  But you know how I am.  So here goes.”


“Let’s revise your Jerusalem mission statement.  Put a hold on all that silly suffering, death and resurrection talk.  In fact, let’s just postpone all that absurdity indefinitely.  Instead, I’ll start a building project.  I’ll put up three booths.  First, tent number one will be for you.  Then two more — one for Moses and another for Elijah.  Let’s make it Transfiguration all year long!  A 24-7-365 Transfiguration!” 


“I’ll market it as Transfiguration Mountain! With Moses and Elijah too! Go from booths to a gigantic auditorium like the Pinnacle Bank Arena!  Add some rock bands, an amusement park, and big screens up the wazoo!  A multi media multiplex extravaganza!  It’s time we Walt Disnify your Transfiguration Jesus!”   


“Can you imagine the crowds?  The year-long tourism?  The mega success?  Once this mountain is Walt Disnified we’ll go gangbusters Jesus!  This is the majesty that will sell! ‘Majesty!  Worship His Majesty!’ will be our theme song!  Dare I say it Jesus?  Yes I will.  I’m on a roll.  Your Passion Play Plot is just flat out moronic. It’s a losing proposition.  In fact, I’m really getting tired of hearing it!”

Poor, poor, pathetic Peter.  Poor, poor, pathetic you too if you’ve fallen for the Peter Plan.  The fool proof Peter Plan is to have a forevermore Walt Disney-ed Transfigured Jesus.  Have a happily ever after on the very high mountain.  The Peter Plan would protect God Jesus.  Shelter Him in a tent.  Camped out in perpetuity with Moses and Elijah.  A sideshow freaky power Jesus.  The Peter Plan would divert the majestic Jesus from … lowly Jerusalem.  Sidetrack Him from bitter suffering.  Deflect Him and save Him from a Good Friday dying.

Are you all in with the Peter Plan?  You are?  You too would protect Jesus from suffering a Holy Week.  Guard Jesus from a bitter and humiliating death.  Then there’d be no need for a … (what was that?) … (some kind of rising on the third day?) … whatever that means!  Got to keep Jesus on the mountain!  Makes a lot of sense.  After all, we can’t be having a suffering, dying and rising Jesus, can we?

Well, if you bullishly insist on having a Disney Jesus like Peter wants – then you have no … salvation!  No Savior for you, for Peter, James, John or anyone for that matter!  Seriously!

BUT – and this is a divine “but” — Jesus will not be protected, preserved, diverted or taken off track.  Not even Peter will derail Jesus from hiking down the mountain, descending to the plains and then going to Jerusalem. He has a Good Friday salvation job to do.  So Moses and Elijah can’t stay either.  No booths for them.  “Thanks anyway Peter,” the prophets declare.  “We’re here to bear witness to Jesus and His Good Friday dying for you, James, John, all Israel, and the world.” 

While Peter’s still trying to push his Walt Disney Jesus on Transfiguration Mountain, still trying to have his say, the Father of our Lord Jesus takes over.  The Father reveals Himself in the very bright cloud.  Overshadows them all.  And what He says puts a zipper on all Peter’s prattle.  “Pay attention everyone!  This Jesus, whose divinity is showing, He’s My Son.  I love Him! I’m very pleased with Him.  He’s my Suffering Servant Prophet King!  He’s the Savior!  He’s come to take the world’s sin in His Body and suffer and die with it all.  If anyone is in Him there is no condemnation!  Heaven is for those who believe in Him!  And so if you’re going to listen to anybody, you’d best be listening to Him!”


No wonder Moses and Elijah disappear.  They’re not saviors.  Only servants who bear witness to Jesus!  So as Jesus gets on with His Jerusalem work, they step aside.  The attention is not on them but on the Jesus whose divinity leaks out and glows full blast on the mountain!

Now Peter, James and John are sore afraid.  They’re flattened by the Father’s words.  They’re like dead men!  So Jesus come to the   He touches them.  “Arise.  Get up.  You’re safe with me.  Even in my suffering, dying, and rising.  No need to be afraid.  I’m the Savior.  Now, let’s go.  I’ve got that Jerusalem job to do.  For you, Israel, and the world.  And since who I am and what I’m going to do is so scandalous and so deeply misunderstood (Peter!), let’s not talk about what you’ve seen until after I’ve risen from the dead.” 

And so off Jesus goes.  Undaunted.  Down the mountain.  Face and clothes back to normal.  Peter, James, and John will listen to Him as they follow Him to Jerusalem.  And so do you as you follow Him this Lent as He goes on His way to do His work.  For He’s God in the flesh.  Going to Jerusalem.  Where He, God in the flesh suffers, dies, and rises FOR YOU.  Yes, that’s right!  In the person of Jesus God dies FOR YOU!

You are forgiven!  You are saved!  Heaven is yours!  It’s what Jesus says.  And He’s the Savior.  The only one.  That God Jesus would suffer Himself to die for you the Good Friday way is quite staggering.  It just flattens you too like dead men.  And so here today He comes to us.  With all the angels, archangels, Peter, James, John and the whole company of heaven He touches us and bids us to arise.  And, look! Behold His hands! His wounds are showing!  And from His hands His Mount Calvary Body and Blood in the Sacrament are given in the bread and wine.  He says so.  Listen very carefully to what He says to you in the Sacrament.

Now you too are witnesses of His divine majesty right here and now for you.  And where He’s for you for the forgiveness of your sin in this unique way, there’s no need to be afraid of anything.

Happy listening to the Father’s beloved Son Jesus over these next 40 days.  Looking forward to seeing you this Ash Wednesday where we’ll begin to have a repentant and happy Lent together as we follow and listen to Jesus the Savior of you His sinners!

In the Name of Jesus.

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