Monday, February 06, 2017

Sermon on Matthew 17:1-9, for theTransfiguration of our Lord, "Jesus Only"

Sermon Outline:
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
·         Who can you call down from heaven to your attention, or to pay honor to you? Underscores the power and identity of Jesus. Son of God.
·         Note Moses and Elijah—alive. Promise of resurrection. Who they were…
·         After six days…setting, time reference, Moses, and events parallel one of Moses’ own mountaintop encounters with God in Ex. 24, the first time he received the stone tablets. Whether or not this intends for us to see the similarities, Moses-Law + Elijah-Prophets = represent OT, together pointing to and in service to Jesus
·         Moses—prophecies of a greater prophet, like him, to be raised up from among them and to speak God’s Word, and we must listen to Him. Elijah—mountaintop encounter with God, hidden in the cave. Ministry of mighty miracles, raising the dead son of a widow (like Jesus would later do for the widow at Nain, and Jairus’ daughter). Bold confrontation of idolatry and hypocrisy, like Jesus would also do.
·         After six days…more immediate connection, foretell of death and resurrection (the cross!). Taking up cross and following Jesus. Peter (and others?) did not want to see Jesus die. No glory in that. Now they see glimpse of glory, but at the end, returns to His focus on the cross—“Tell no one… till the Son of Man is raised…”  Cross first and foremost—glory in its own time.
·         Speaking of glory—how many times did God audibly speak from heaven over Jesus? 3. Last—John 12:27-33. Jesus acknowledges the coming hour of His death, and He’s ready to face it. Asks: “Father, glorify your name”—God speaks, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” Three times approval of Jesus’ actions to carry out God’s will. Christ’s glory would come through the cross. This miracle glimpse of glory on the Mt. of transfiguration is a private event, only for them to see.
·         Greater importance, to hear and listen to His Word!
·         God’s voice—Beloved Son, Well-pleased (repeats from Baptism), Listen to Him. Most important duty for all disciples. Most important for us.
·         More important even than seeing this glorious event. 2nd Peter—prophetic word is “more sure” and we “do well to pay attention”. Peter turns our attention to Jesus, and His Word. Moses and Elijah appear to turn our attention to Jesus, acknowledge His glory. God’s own voice turns us to “listen to Jesus.”  Do we need any other special reminders or warnings?
·         Jesus lifts up frightened heads, and they see Jesus Only. Focus again on Him. How much will our lives profit to focus on Jesus Only? Listen to Him. Worship Him alone. Love Him, no other gods. Trust in all of life—take up the cross and follow me…lose our life for His sake, will find it. Who else can return to us our very life? Who else could return the very life of Moses, Elijah, dead for centuries?
·         Son of Man is raised from the dead…the Son of Man who defeated death Himself can. Resurrection and the Life.
·         Life clutters with so many cares, worries, troubles—but even delights, joys, and amusements. Whether bad or good, it’s all too easy to lose sight of Jesus only. Instead of front and center in my life and trust—too easy to become lost in the crowd or forgotten among a million other things that occupy our attention. Where is Jesus Only? He is in His Word, where He still speaks today. Still as relevant and challenging and comforting and forgiving as ever. He is in Baptism, God’s beloved Son, inviting us to be washed with Him, forgiven and cleansed of every sin and stain—clothing us in His new righteousness. He is in His Supper, a holy meal He has prepared with His own body and blood broken and poured out for the forgiveness of your sins, and to bring you into fellowship with Him and each other. Jesus Only is our Savior. Not hidden on a mountaintop, not waiting for an elusive experience with His glory, but accessible and available to all who would hear the Word of God and listen to Him. God grant that we do! In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Sermon Talking Points
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    1. Matthew 17:1 gives a “time marker”: “after six days….” What had taken place in the events between this and the preceding time marker in Matthew 16:21-28? Where was Jesus telling His disciples the journey of His ministry would take Him? What would He face and do?
    2. Who else saw God’s glory and heard God’s voice in a cloud on a mountain, after six days? Exodus 24:15-18. How had Elijah encountered God on a mountain? 1 Kings 19:9-18.
    3. “Transfigured” is metamorphosis in Greek. To change form or appearance. Jesus’ essence or being was not changed—but what about His being shone forth through His changed appearance to the disciples? John 8:12; 10:30.
    4. Peter wants to show hospitality to Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, but is interrupted by God’s own voice, giving him a more important instruction. What was it? Matthew 17:5. Why must we do the same?
    5. God’s voice speaks over Jesus at 3 key times in His ministry: Matthew 3:17; 17:5; John 12:27-33. How do these three episodes each confirm Jesus’ identity and God’s approval of His Son’s actions and teaching?
    6. Does Jesus want His disciples to be fearful? Why not? Consider last week’s message on Matthew 8:23-27, and read 2 Timothy 1:7.
    7. After the vision of glory faded, their focus was left on Jesus alone (Matthew 17:8). We do not live in glory or in uninterrupted bliss. How does having Jesus occupy our focus, enable us to journey through life successfully? Refer back to Matthew 16:24-28.
    8. Why would people be more ready to hear and believe the account of this mountaintop vision, after what Jesus says in 17:9 took place?

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