“Listen to Him!”
The Transfiguration of Our Lord Trinity Lutheran Church
15 February 2015 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
St. Mark 9:2-9
Transfiguration Sunday! There He is. On the high mountain. With Peter, James and John. Let there be no more doubting. Jesus is God in the flesh. Look at Him! His divinity is showing! It’s leaking out all over the place. His clothes are dazzling white! Lightning white. Whiter than any bleacher on the earth could bleach them. Pure white. Heavenly white. DIVINE white. Matthew says that Jesus’ “face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light,” (Matthew 17:2). Luke tells us that Jesus’ “face changed and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning,” (Luke 9:29).
All this reminds you of the prophet Daniel’s vision of the future. When He was given to see the time of the promised Messiah! When Daniel prophesied the most important period in the history of the world! The day – the climactic day — in which the Lord would sit on His throne to reign over all the earth AS GOD FOR HIS PEOPLE – to be Savior FOR ALL. Listen: “As I looked,” Daniel says, “thrones were set in place and the Ancient of Days [that’s the Lord] took his seat.” Now listen carefully. It connects us to Transfiguration Mountain. “His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool,” (Daniel 7:9).
I can’t help myself. I have to do it. To the Book of Revelation we go! To connect the dots even more with the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain. Listen to St. John’s description of Jesus as He reigns as the Good Friday God and Lord of sinners on the earth in the church. “The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow,” (Revelation 1:14). Again, it’s the heavenly white. DIVINE white!
And so, lo and behold, Jesus is transfigured on the mountain. His divinity is showing full blast! Peter, James and John are honored eyewitnesses of His heavenly majesty. “His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” Indeed! In, with and under Jesus the “kingdom of God has come with power,” (Mark 9:1).
That’s precisely why Moses and Elijah are there. They are the two greatest prophets of the Old Testament. They prophesied and promised that God Himself would reign on the earth. That God would personally establish His kingdom on the earth. That God would save His people and the world. And now it’s all being fulfilled in Jesus! They see God doing His kingdom of God reign with their own eyes! Now, on the mountain the prophets once again bear witness to Jesus. Like any faithful preacher does! Jesus fulfills all their prophecies. The divine kingdom has come. God reigns. Salvation of the world has arrived. All you have to do is look at Jesus.
Or do you? The looking lasted only for a while. After Peter’s suggestion of three tents (not knowing what to say), “a cloud appeared and covered them.” That’s the glory cloud! The cloud of God’s heavy weight divine presence! Just like in the Old Testament. You know. In Exodus. When the “cloud covered the tent of meeting and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle … In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out – until the day it lifted. So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels,” (Ex 40:36-38).
So now on Transfiguration Mountain the “glory cloud” of God the Father’s presence covers them. The Father of our Lord Jesus speaks. Just like He did at Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan. “This is my Son. I love Him. Listen to him!”
Did you hear that? The looking at Jesus ends. The transfiguration with His Son of God divinity showing full blast lasted only for a moment.
Now, we, together with Peter, James and John are given orders. The divine command. From God the Father. “Jesus is my Son whom I love. Listen to Him!”
Now is the time of hearing! That’s exactly why the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have recorded what Jesus preached and taught.
“Listen to Him!” That’s the entire point of Transfiguration Mountain. “Listen to Him!” Why? “Because He’s my Son,” the Father says. And, “as my Son I’m absolutely delighted, pleased and thrilled by His divine words and His divine actions that He speaks and does FOR YOU.”
“Listen to Him!” Because Jesus is the one who gives Himself into death FOR YOU the sinner! Jesus bears all your sin in His body on the cross. Incredibly, Jesus, who knew no sin was “made to be sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21)! Consequently, He experienced His Father’s entire wrath against all your sin. He was made to be a “curse,” (Galatians 3:13). He was damned! FOR YOU! That’s when He proclaimed: “IT IS FINISHED!” The salvation job for you was accomplished. Won. Achieved.
So I warn you. The Father’s “Listen to Him!” is salvationly serious. You don’t have better words than Jesus! Really! You don’t! Jesus’ words are divine. Yours are not. Jesus’ words are perfect and pure. Yours aren’t.
As you, the new Israel, travel in and through this wilderness world on the way to the Promised Land of Heaven, you are given to: “Listen to Him!” Listen to Jesus and you have salvation.
After all, Jesus gives the very salvation He promises AS THE DIVINE WORD OF THE FATHER MADE FLESH. His salvific words go like this: “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise,” (Mk 9:31). That’s the IT-IS-FINISHED-salvation-of-the-world-achieved on Good-Friday and the EASTER-SUNDAY-RESURRECTION-PEACE-BE-WITH-YOU-FORGIVENESS that He bestows and gives to sinners from His own lips until the Last Day.
Such Good Friday forgiveness and salvation come through the beloved Son of God’s promises. Listen. Jesus categorically promises: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved,” (Mark 16:16). What a promise! With all the heaven and on earth authority that Jesus has been given! And it’s just FOR YOU. You’re baptized. He gave you His divine Name and the faith He calls for. Therefore, He promises: YOU WILL BE SAVED! Salvation includes the resurrection of the body and life everlasting!
At the beginning of every divine service you are given the opportunity to “Listen to Him!” To use the language of Exodus 40 and today’s text, He “clouds” or overshadows you with a promise that you never would expect or deserve as a sinner. To you, His sinners, He emphatically declares the absolution through the mouth of your pastor! “In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.” His word does and gives what it says! Your sin – all of it – is Good Friday-ly forgiven! Not counted against you because all your sin and every bit of its damnation were counted against Jesus as He hung FOR YOU on the bloody altar of the cross.
In just a few minutes there is more “Listening to Him!” With His words is His living voice: viva vox Christi! Jesus speaks to you in the Supper. How do you know that? Because you hear His words! He speaks through His words! That’s the entire point of the Words of Institution and why the pastor faces you as He chants them. He is there FOR YOU – God FOR YOU – SAVIOR FOR YOU with His words. “This [bread] is my body … This [wine] is my blood of the new testament which is poured out for many” (Mk 14:22, 24). It is “given and poured out FOR YOU” “for the forgiveness of your sin” (Mt 26:28; Lk 22:19-20)!
What bounty with the forgiveness of sins! Where there is forgiveness of sins, there is life and salvation! That’s exactly why the Father commands you to “Listen to Him.” That’s what Transfiguration Mountain is all about. You’re salvation is at stake.
Happy listening to Jesus this coming Ash Wednesday, this Lent, this Easter Sunday and the rest of your lives! Believing what He promises through His words!
In the Name of Jesus.