In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost.
Just a few minutes ago we sang the words, “’Tis good, Lord, to be here.” We have borrowed those words from St. Peter, who often gets a lot of grief for that statement and his desire to build three tabernacles for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. He is criticized as having a theology of glory, a desire to have the best life now, in this world. But is Peter’s offer really that bad? His desire comes from faith, a longing to be with the Lord in His glory, to leave behind this sin-marred world. He has seen the Lord as He truly is: great and glorious, all-victorious. What more could this world have to offer?
We can’t help but wonder the same thing. We look around us and see how bad things are. This world is crumbling. Society is falling apart. Violence rips through neighborhoods and schools, families are fractured, divisions in the world are growing deeper.
But the problems aren’t just in the world around us. The Christian Church on earth also suffers from these same sad divisions. Even though “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,” many try to invent new and novel interpretations of Scripture or question it in ways that only harm faith when no salutary answer can be found. Numerous church bodies, in an eager attempt to make friends with the world, abandon the clear teachings of Holy Scripture and assimilate with men’s fallen reason.
Even closer to home, we see that we are just as guilty. All the commandments which the Lord spoke to Moses on Sinai we ignore. We come up with our own versions which allow us to walk away unscathed while everyone else ends up as the worst sinner. But when we consider life in light of all God’s Law, we see how our sin is what has marred this world and leads to the sorrow and heartache that is the lot of life in this world.
In the midst of all this sin and sorrow, Our Lord talks with Moses and Elijah. St. Luke tells us that the three discuss Jesus’ exodus, that is, His work to lead His people from the slavery of sin to the freedom of forgiveness and eternal life. But in order for that to happen, for His glory to be ours for eternity, a solemn time is coming when our tears for sin must flow. Jesus must give up His life for the life of the world. Only by the shedding of the Blood of the Sacrifice can peace be restored between man and God.
That is why, as we close the Epiphany season and make the preparations for our Lenten journey, Jesus gives us a glimpse of His glory. At His Transfiguration Jesus is not changed. He does not take on something foreign to Him, but what He truly is, namely God in the flesh, is revealed. Jesus shows the glory that will come to flesh, to earthly bodies, because of His exodus, His death for our life.
As Jesus’ glory was revealed in shining face and bright array, Peter, James, and John received a glimpse into their own future, and they have recorded it for your comfort. At His Transfiguration Jesus gave a glimpse of what His finished work in you will look like. This day is here to comfort and sustain you in this life. It is here to prepare you for the Lenten journey ahead as Jesus leaves this mountain and journeys toward another: Mount Calvary.
So if the vision on the Mount of Transfiguration reveals what Jesus wants to accomplish in you, it is Calvary that reveals how He will accomplish it. He lifts you to His glory by entering into your shame, your sin and death. He will clothe you with His grace and mercy by being clothed with your sin. He will transport you to that happy place beyond all tears and sinning, forever in the presence of God, by being cast out of it, by being God-forsaken. Having done the Father’s will, dying for you to ransom you in love, He was raised to new life and clothed in a glory that will never again be hidden, a glory He freely gives to you.
Just as the Excellent Glory, God the Father, declared Jesus to be His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased, so does this Voice from the cloud foreshadow your adoption as sons. Your own transfiguration happened on the day of your Baptism when you were clothed with Christ, made a co-heir with the King of His glory. Your Baptism is when God looked at you and said, “You are my child, the one whom I love and in whom I delight.” There all that Christ won for you on Mount Calvary was applied to you, made yours, Christ giving to you life forever.
And just as Jesus told Peter, James, and John to arise and not be afraid, He says the same to you today. He says to you, “Do not be afraid. Though this world is full of sin and is dying all around you and you do not know what the future holds, I know. I will bring you home. I will end your sorrow. Do not be afraid. I will not fail, I will not forget you. Your day will come when I will bring you from this life to the life everlasting, out of this cruel world, home, where you belong.”
The peace of God which passeth all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Sermons from Mount Olive
Mount Olive follows the historic one-year lectionary (series of readings).