Online Worship for Transfiguration, Sunday February 14, 2021
Sermon for Transfiguration – Sunday February 14, 2021
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus, the Christ. Amen.
28 Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. 30 And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him. 33 Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said.
34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” 36 When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the things they had seen. *
In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
Son of God and Son of Man,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –
“He couldn’t see the forest because of all the trees.”
It’s an expression sometimes used of someone who is so involved in the minute details of a problem, that they miss the big picture. The expression is familiar because it does happen from time to time that we become so bogged down in the details of a project that we never actually complete it.
It can also happen when we study Scripture, in particular the parables of Jesus. When we study the parables of Jesus, we can get so caught up in the details that we miss the point of the story. For example, the Parable of the Rich man and poor Lazarus recorded in the Gospel of Luke (16:19-31).
Jesus’ story goes like this: There was a rich man who had all he needed and a poor beggar named Lazarus who only wanted the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. In time, both men died. The rich man ended up in hell. The poor beggar in heaven. The rich man, in anguish, begs that a drop of water be sent to cool his tongue. The request is denied because there is a chasm between heaven and hell. The rich man also begs that Lazarus be sent back from death to warn his brothers so that they not end up in the same anguish. The second request is also denied because the brothers already have the means to escape hell, it’s to be found in the OT Scriptures (16:29): “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.”
Do you see what I mean? We get so caught up in the descriptive details of the story…that we miss the whole point of the story, which Jesus repeats twice at the end: “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” In a nutshell, “If you want to avoid hell, listen to what the Scriptures have to say.”
The same thing can happen when we study historical events like the Transfiguration of Jesus. The event is recorded three of the four Gospels, from three different points of view. There are many elements in the account, and there is the danger that we get so caught up in the details that we miss the message of the Transfiguration.
We therefore ask the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we may both hear and understand the message of the transfiguration and listening find in it -- Life Eternal.
We therefore pray:
“Sanctify us by your truth, O Lord, Your Word is Truth.” Amen.
28 Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray.
Let’s stick with the basics and try not to get bogged down. Jesus took three of his disciples on this excursion, Peter and the two brothers James and John, and they went up on a mountain. The mountain isn’t named, but their purpose in going up to the mountain is: they went with Jesus to pray. We don’t know how long they prayed, but it may have been a while because Jesus’ disciples got sleepy and fell asleep.
29 As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered,
and His robe became white and glistening.
While Jesus was praying, something happened to his appearance. The Gospel of Luke tells us that the form or outward appearance of his face was altered, it became different. Matthew and Mark say that Jesus was ‘transfigured’ before them, the word meaning ‘to change in appearance.’
How did Jesus’ face, his outward appearance change? Matthew tells us that his face shone like the Sun (17:2). It wasn’t just his face that changed, so did his clothing.
How did Jesus’ clothing change? Matthew says that it became bright white as the light (17:2). Mark describes it as ‘radiant, shining’ like the stars, whiter than any launderer could whiten them (9:3). Luke says his clothing became bright white, flashing like lightening.
So, while Jesus prayed, his face changed and began shining like the Sun and his clothing became bright white and flashing. Then Jesus wasn’t alone.
30 And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
Now the word ‘behold’ indicates that there is something here to be noticed. The thing to be noticed is that two men – other than the three disciples – appeared in glory and spoke with Jesus when He finished praying. The two men were Moses and Elijah.
Moses was chosen by God and sent to liberate the People of God from slavery in Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land. After seeing the Promised Land from a distance, Moses had died and was buried by God (Deuteronomy 34:1-8). It was through Moses that God gave His Law and Promised that a Great Prophet would arise from among them whose word they were commanded to hear, to listen to (Deuteronomy 18:15-19, Acts 3:22-26).
Elijah was chosen by God and sent to speak to the Kingdom of Israel during King Ahab’s rule. The Prophet Elijah worked to turn the hearts of the people from the false god Baal to the LORD, before being taken by God directly to heaven in a chariot of fire by a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11) as you heard in our OT lesson.
The Prophet Malachi said that one like Elijah would appear to turn the hearts of the people again to the LORD before the Promised Savior appeared (Malachi 4:2).
While the other Gospel writers only note their presence, Luke tells us what they discussed. They spoke of Jesus’ decease, literally, of His Exodus which He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem. Even as God had liberated the people of Israel through the Exodus and led them into the Promised Land, so would God free all people from slavery to sin and lead them into the Promised Land of Heaven through the Exodus of Jesus, His death on the Cross.
This coming week we begin the penitential season of Lent, during which we meditate upon the suffering and death of Jesus which delivers us from sin, from death eternal, from Satan’s power. May God grant that our worship be from a heart of thanksgiving and not merely a traditional going through the motions.
We still haven’t come to the message of transfiguration. Let’s not get bogged down in the details.
32 But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him. 33 Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said.
Jesus’ three disciples were not all praying, but had become drowsy. When they were fully awake, they saw Jesus’ glory and Moses and Elijah. It was as the two men in glory were departing, that Peter sought to prolong the experience. In his just awakened state, he suggested that they erect three tents, one for Moses, Elijah and Jesus.
Peter didn’t know what He was saying…neither did he understand the purpose of their appearance. Moses and Elijah appeared to speak with Jesus of his upcoming death. They were a support for the man, Jesus. They also appeared for the benefit of Jesus’ disciples. Hopefully they remembered God’s Promise about the Great Prophet and about the Elijah who was to precede the Coming Savior.
The Apostle Peter would later be moved by the Holy Spirit to write about the event and what they learned from it. It confirmed for them that the Promises of Scripture were true and fulfilled in Christ (2 Peter 1:16-21).
After one more thing happened, the message of the Transfiguration was given by God Himself. Just a couple more details, and we’ll get to the message:
34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud.
What happened on the Mountain wasn’t normal or expected. If it had been, the disciples would have thought nothing of it. Instead, they were afraid, even terrified. A cloud appeared and enveloped them.
In the days of Moses, a cloud was a visible sign of God’s presence (Exodus 40:34-38). The LORD confirmed his presence on Mount Sinai by means of a cloud (Exodus 24:14-18). When the people of Israel wandered in the wilderness, they were led by pillar of cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22).
On the Mountain of Transfiguration, the presence of God was confirmed by the cloud and from the mouth of God Himself the message of the Transfiguration was audibly given and here written:
35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying,
“This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!”
Now up to this point we have learned about the circumstances surrounding this event. There are surely things to be learned about Jesus from them, but the message proclaimed by God the Father is here given.
It is two-fold, first: “This is My beloved Son.”
Jesus is God’s Son. This doesn’t mean that Jesus is secondary to or lesser than the Father. It’s evident from the circumstances that Jesus has the qualities of God. He has all the qualities of God according to His Divine Nature. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, for the most part He hid his glory as God, revealing it only in miracles.
Jesus is God’s beloved Son. Why is the Son beloved by the Father? Why was He well-pleased in Him?
a) He was the perfect son; He always did what the Father asked as our substitute. He completed the work given him. This wasn’t the first time that the Father said that He was well-pleased in His Son (cf. Matthew 17:5). He said that His favor rested upon Him at His Baptism already (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22).
b) He was God’s beloved Son because of His willing sacrifice, His departure, His death. This too was part of the plan when the Son of God entered human flesh. He came to die to redeem sinners. The Father loved the Son for his willing sacrifice and so Jesus said (John 10:17-18):
“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
The second part of the message is also important. It’s directed to Jesus’ disciples, to us: “Hear Him!”
It’s important that we hear how Jesus’ glory was revealed on the Mountain of Transfiguration, showing Him to be God. It’s important that we hear how Jesus healed the sick and infirmed, cast out demons and raised the dead. These miracles prove that He is God, the Promised Savior (Isaiah 35:1-6; Matthew 11:1-6).
It’s even more important that we hear, that we listen to what Jesus says in His Word. For through His Word, He reconciles us to God and promises us an eternal future apart from sin and death. In His Word, Jesus promises that if we listen to His Word and believe on the one who sent Him (John 5:24), we have everlasting life. We will also see Him in all His Glory (John 17:24, 1 John 3:2).
These blessings are not received by sight, but by faith, by hearing His voice which rings out to us from His Word.
This is the message of the Transfiguration:
Jesus is God’s Beloved Son…Listen to Him!
Divine Instructor, gracious Lord, Be Thou forever near;
Teach me to love Thy sacred Word And view my Savior here