Monday, February 08, 2016

Sermon on Luke 9:28-36, for the Transfiguration of our Lord

  • Contrast of glory to cross
  • Transfiguration account follows right after Jesus’ first prediction of His suffering, rejection, death, and resurrection. Read Luke 9:22-27
  • 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
  • Jesus had just predicted His crucifixion, death, and resurrection for the first time—undoubtedly a difficult message for His disciples—and followed by taking up your cross and following Jesus. The way of self-denial and the cross. Facing rejection from others, and losing our life for the sake of Christ saving it. Sets contrast of glory to the cross.
  • 3 disciples—glimpse glory—ordinary appearance gives way to dazzling brightness and light. Transfiguration (metamorphosis), changed appearance, showed who He is.
  • Within an earthborn form He hides His all creating light; to serve us all He humbly cloaks the splendor of His might, the splendor of His might. LSB 389:3
  • We could easily imagine a totally different way of God bringing salvation by earthly glory, power and might, without the humility and suffering of the cross—but God determined that the cross, lowliness, and suffering were the necessary way for His glory to be revealed. In sacrifice, for sin, not in boasting or power or might, but laying down His life. Greater glory in this, but clothed under the cross. Not the worldly way of glory. Hidden under Jesus’ flesh and blood was the great glory of God’s own Son.
  • He undertakes a great exchange, puts on our human frame, and in return gives us His realm, His glory and His name, His glory and His name. LSB 389:4
  • The Son of God came down to earth, became lowly and human, born the baby Jesus, so He could give us the riches of His grace and glory. God shows His glory in the straw bed of the manger, the traveling rabbi sleeping outdoors with His disciples, and the crucified Jesus, hung between thieves.
  • For a brief moment, among only the 3 disciples, Jesus gives a glimpse of His true glory, before He hides it again. Peter would set up camp to bask in the glow, but Jesus takes them down the mountain with nothing but the astonishing event emblazoned on their memories. Contrast to Jesus’ death on the cross. None of the blinding light, the glory, the holy worship of Jesus, but in its place there is mockery and scorn of the same Jesus. The same Son of God who must be worshipped, is spat upon.
  • Both the transfiguration and crucifixion happen on a mountain. But for which does Jesus create a living remembrances for all generations to come? Not the mount of transfiguration, where only 3 disciples witnessed and remembered that glorious day. But the hill called Golgotha. For what Jesus did there, He established both a living remembrance and our ongoing participation in that event. Not for 3 disciples, but for generations of Jesus’ disciples to come. Jesus prepared a new meal, His Supper, to serve us His body and blood of the covenant, poured out for us, for the forgiveness of sins. His body offered up, His blood shed on the cross. The Lord’s Supper is a living participation, a communion in the body and blood of Jesus, remembering what He did on the cross for us, and receiving it in our hand and mouth.
  • It really should come as no surprise that the cross, and not the Transfiguration gets all the glory and the emphasis—even from Jesus. The mount of Transfiguration is a way-point, a rest stop on the journey—not the climax or “ground zero” of His journey. The mount of transfiguration was a high point from where Jesus, Moses, and Elijah could look out to the not-so-distant future, and see His coming cross. Luke tells us this one detail the other gospel writers leave out—the topic of their conversation. “They spoke of His departure, which He was to undergo in Jerusalem.” Footnotes in your Bible will tell you that “departure” is actually the word “Exodus.” Jesus, like Moses, was going to complete and accomplish His great redemptive journey in Jerusalem. Jesus was setting His people free from the slavery of sin, just as generations before, the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. The cross would bring us freedom.
  • That was the turning point for Jesus’ true glory, and would mark the beginning of Jesus being lifted up, exalted, glorified by God.
  • So for now, the journey is still underway—we’ve paused to rest, to catch a glimpse of Jesus’ glory, and what lies ahead of Him—but now we descend back from the mountain with Jesus and the disciples, following His steps to the cross. This Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of 40 days of repentance, 40 days of humbling ourselves as we follow after our Savior. And as we journey with Jesus, this season of Lent, these words ring in our ears—words of our Heavenly Father: “This is my Son, my chosen One, listen to Him!” Listen to Jesus, learn from His lowliness, receive His grace, and worship Him!
  •  Your grace in lowliness revealed, Lord Jesus, we adore, And praise to God the Father yield And Spirit evermore; We praise You evermore. LSB 389:7

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