Dear Lord Jesus, how we long for that day when like Peter, James and John we can behold Your glory! How we long to see You clearly and to stand enveloped by the pure light of Your holy love! How we long to probe the hidden wisdom of the ages alongside Moses and Elijah! Lord, although we must wait a bit for such a day, on this holy day we have come to bask in the warm glow of Your grace and truth. Uplift us by the experience, just as those ancient heroes of faith were uplifted. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE LORD OF ALL GLORY!
TEXT: Mark 9: 2-9
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Do you think anyone who escaped from that horrific fire in West Warwick, Rhode Island, will ever forget that awful night? Just like soldiers in combat, those survivors will continue to hear the screams, see the flames, and recall the fear of that fateful night. That memory is seared on their consciences forever. And for the rest of their lives, those folks will try to make sense of it all, trying to distill some meaning from it.
When St. Peter was an old man he wrote about an event that was seared on his conscience, too. Years before he had been with Jesus on the Mt. of transfiguration. Now, over 30 years after that life-changing event, Peter describes it and then applies it to our lives even today. In his second epistle Peter writes: “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Unlike Peter we don’t have a transfigured Christ standing before us this morning. Unlike Peter the heavenly voice of God Almighty is not booming in our ears. However, we do have God’s Word. Christ speaks to us, the holy Father speaks to us, the Holy Spirit speaks to us via the humble, yet profound Words of the Bible. And it is for that very reason, my friends, that just like St. Peter, we, too, can exclaim:
IT IS GOOD FOR US TO BE HERE!
Why did Jesus choose those “inner three” disciples—Peter, James and John—to go up that mountain with Him? Why did He choose to cast aside the veil of mere flesh and show forth His Divinity in all its brightness? Why did Moses and Elijah appear beside Jesus talking to Him? The answer is rather simple. First, He was about to begin His passion, His suffering for sinners like us, which would culminate on the cross. Jesus wanted the disciples to never forget—even amid that degradation to come—that He truly was the Son of God. He never wanted to them forget that God would die for them, and us, on the cross. He never wanted them to forget that He possessed all power in heaven and on earth. And He never wanted them to forget that the entire Old Testament—represented by the great lawgiver Moses and the greatest of prophets, Elijah—that the entire Old Testament was about Him and that He would fulfill all its prophecies with His death and resurrection. In short, Jesus wanted to comfort them amid the trials to come. And from Peter’s later words, it was obvious this lesson was taken to heart.
When the ancient church set up the yearly calendar, those wise men had this same thought in mind. They placed Transfiguration directly before the 40 days of Lent. This was to provide a glimpse of glory before suffering and abuse. It was to show us that Christ was always just a blink of the eye away from the majesty of heaven. Likewise, it was to show us that we’re just a blink of the eye away from such glory, too. In short, transfiguration puts our lives with all our ups and downs in proper perspective, doesn’t it?
It is good for us to be here! It is good for God’s saints, His children of love, to assemble together and listen to His wise words of comfort. It is good for us to know that because Jesus walked in our shoes and did everything in His life for us, because of that “nothing can ever separate us from the love of Christ.” Hardship, danger, persecution, terrorists, loneliness, even death—in all those things we are more than conquerors through Christ! For He has conquered them for us. And when we follow the Holy Father’s command and “Listen to Jesus!” those huge problems get shrunk down to size. Yes, when we listen to Jesus He uplifts our souls and causes us to rise above all our fears by embracing the truth that our eternal existence has been made secure by the blood of the Lamb.
Every one of us likes to think that if Jesus stood before us this morning, our faith would never, ever waver. We like to think that if Jesus showed us His transfiguring glory we’d never question Him again and never ask: “Why Lord?” However, Peter, Peter who had that experience not only ran away in Gethsemane, he later openly denied Jesus to save his own skin. And then, 30 odd years later, that same Peter looks back over his life and says this: “We have the word of the prophets made more certain.” That’s an audacious statement! But, it is true! We have the sure Word of God. We have Divine truth in our Bibles. And that Word makes our faith more certain than a visible manifestation of God’s glory. For through the Words of Scripture the Holy Ghost comes to us. Through those words He comforts us and uplifts our souls. Through those Words we possess the benefit of hindsight—of seeing all that happened to Christ and having it all explained to us.
It is good for us to be here! Because it is here, today, that Christ—the Word made flesh—meets us and talks to us and calms our souls. Peter was so impressed by that event, that he wanted to build three cabins and remain in that warm glow of God’s grace forever. Well, you and I get to experience that glow every time we worship together. And we also get to take it with us when we leave church. For it is the transfigured Lord who says to us: “Surely I will be with you always to the very end of the age!” In that we rejoice! Amen