In the Name of JesusMatthew 17,1-9 1212
Letzter Sonntag nach Epiphanias 019 weiß
The Transfiguration of our Lord
Valerius, Bishop of Trier, Germany. Disciple of Peter.
29. January 2012
1. O Lord Jesus Christ, the Glory of Israel and the Light unto the nations, who on this day revealed Yourself to be the true Son of God, our Savior. In Your Light we see light and in Your transfiguration we see the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, yes the very Author of Heilsgeschichte (salvation history) who redeems us back unto our Heavenly Father. Support us with Your power to be ever faithful in proclaiming this gospel unto our neighborhood. Amen.
2. And after six days Jesus took with Him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with Him. And Peter said to Jesus: „Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for You and one for Moses and one for Elijah.“ He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said: „This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.“ When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying: „Rise, and have no fear.“ And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them: „Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.“
3. O how we wish we had an encounter with Yahweh, the Great I Am, like Moses did on Mount Sinai at the Burning Bush. How envious are we of Peter, James and John who saw Jesus transfigured in His glory on Mount Tabor, the highest and loftiest mountain in Galilee. Three earthly men, Peter, James and John, meet three heavenly men, Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Moses and Elijah are not chosen willy-nilly by the Lord to visit Him. Moses’ face had shone with light when he returned from speaking to Yahweh on Mt. Sinai. Elijah had stood in the presence of Yahweh when the heavenly fiery chariots swept him away from his protégé and disciple, Elisha.
4. Jesus spoke with the great prophets Moses and Elijah at His transfiguration. Luke tells us in his Gospel: »Moses and Elijah appeared in glory and were speaking of Jesus’ exodus, which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem« (Luke 9,31). The departure of which these three holy men speak is the forthcoming and imminent death of Jesus. We note that these three men all have unique, spectacular deaths.
5. Joshua, the successor of Moses, tells us that Yahweh and Moses took one last walk together in Moab (Deuteronomy 34). They hiked up Mount Nebo, opposite Jericho, and Yahweh showed Moses the promised land of Canaan. Before Moses was the land Yahweh had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Israel; He was giving this plenteous land to their descendants. The land was a good and blessed land, flowing with milk, honey and vineyards ripe for making wine. I suspect tears streamed down Moses’ checks as he saw the beautiful and bountiful land that Yahweh was giving to His beloved people. Moses, however, would not enter this land. He had sinned against God and disobeyed His command just one time (Numbers 20,1-13). Moses, at 120 years old, died apart from Israel, but he closed his eyes in the wonderful presence of Jesus, the Son of God, who then lovingly carried Moses in His own arms and with great care buried Moses in a valley opposite Beth-peor, a town five miles northeast of Mt. Nebo. No human being knows exactly where Jesus buried Moses.
6. But the devil knew where Moses had been buried. He was waiting and watching to make his complaint before God in order to claim Moses’ body. The Apostle Jude tells us: »The Archangel Michael contended with the devil and disputed about the body of Moses« (Jude 9). With Yahweh’s own word, Michael rebuked the devil and ordered him to stand down and yield his claim for Moses’ body.
7. Elijah likewise had a spectacular departure from this world, all the more wondrous because he did not die. When Elijah and Elisha crossed the Jordan River, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated them and in a whirlwind Elijah ascended into heaven in his physical body (2. Kings 2,11).
8. These two great prophets of the old testament descend at Jesus’ transfiguration to discuss with Jesus His impending death (Luke 9,31). Six days earlier Jesus had spoken to His disciples about this very topic, saying: »From that time on, Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, but on the third day be raised from the dead« (Matthew 16,21-22).
9. The disciples were uncomfortable with this talk of suffering and dying, for this did not fit their ideal of who the Christ was supposed to be. Peter even tried to prevent Jesus from walking down this path of the Suffering Servant (Matthew 16,22), but Jesus’ transfiguration impressed upon Peter, James and John that the Law and the Prophets were all about Jesus and Jesus’ death and resurrection. On Mt. Tabor these three disciples saw with their own eyes that Jesus is the very God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel. Jesus is the Son of God who appeared to Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 24,9-18). Jesus is the Son of God who spoke to Elijah on Mt. Horeb (1. Kings 19). Jesus is the Son of God, incarnate in human flesh, who was born of the virgin Mary so He could suffer, be crucified and rise again. This Jesus, transfigured in His glory, is God in their midst who has arrived to save you, me and all mankind from our sinfulness.
10. Moses, the great Lawgiver of the old testament, will not save you. The Ten Commandments, as wonderful as they are, will not merit your salvation no matter how diligent you may be in keeping them. Elijah, the renowned Prophet of the old testament, will not deliver you. Only Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel can, and does, save you. The transfiguration declares that Jesus is this very God of Abraham. Moses and Elijah rightly point to Jesus as the Author and Fulfiller of the old testament, the one who brings the new testament, the one who humbles Himself unto death on a cross to save you. The mighty voice of God the Father rightly proclaims: »This Jesus is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.« The Heavenly Father is well pleased with Jesus because Jesus will become the sacrifice that will redeem the world.
11. Moses and Elijah returned to heaven. The Voice of God became silent. There is only Jesus in the midst of the three apostles. There is no need to be afraid, for Jesus is with you. The impending suffering and cross is the means of your redemption. Only Jesus can save you. Only by the cross and the empty tomb can you have eternal life. The transfiguration is about Jesus (Gibbs 861). His path takes Him to the cross and the grave. Jesus exhorts you to travel this path with Him. Focus on the cross, the crucified Christ and the risen Savior, for He has redeemed the world; He has ransomed you. Jesus can and will sustain His disciples as they deny themselves, take up their cross and continue to follow Him (Gibbs 861). This is still true today, for Jesus can and will sustain you as you suffer and walk the way of the cross as His lowly disciple, because Jesus has named you co-heirs in His glory.
12. You have experienced Jesus in His Word and Sacraments. You behold His glory each week in the Divine Service. „You cannot stand still with such an experience, for you return to everyday life, often with suffering, but you take with you the shining light that encourages you to continue living in God’s light“ (ELKB), the Light that is Jesus Christ, your Savior. Amen.
13. Let us pray. O Christ Jesus, the brilliance of the eternal light and a stainless mirror of that Divine power and an image of goodness, pour upon us the Holy Spirit so that we are emboldened to proclaim the wonders of Your loving-kindness unto our neighbors. Amen.
One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you!All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4th Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.
ELKB. Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern. www.bayern-evangelisch.de/www/index.php. Copyright © Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche in Bayern.
Gibbs, Jeffrey A. Matthew 11:2 – 20:34. Copyright © 2010 Concordia Publishing House.
Löhe, Wilhelm. Seed-Grains of Prayer: A Manual for Evangelical Christians. Wartburg Publishing House, Chicago circa 1912. Concordia Publishing House; Concordia on Demand.