Passage: Luke 9:28–9:36
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Luke 9:28-36
Date: February 7th, 2016; Transfiguration; Series C
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Today is the last Sunday in the season of Epiphany.
The season of Epiphany focuses on the many ways that Jesus Christ is revealed to be God in the flesh – the promised Messiah.
This morning our Gospel lesson tells of another amazing epiphany as Jesus shone as bright as the sun and spoke to Moses and Elijah.
Some context is important for understanding the significance of this event.
A few days before Jesus took those three disciples onto the mountaintop, he had been giving them some instruction. He was preparing them for what was to come.
Jesus asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?"
And the disciples answered, "John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen."
Then Jesus asked, "But who do you say that I am?" And Peter answered, "The Christ of God."
Peter was right. But, he didn’t fully understand what it meant.
Soon after Peter’s confession, we are told, “Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
Showing clearly that he didn’t understand, “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you."
“But [Jesus] turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’”
This provides some context for our Gospel lesson for this morning.
Jesus was teaching his disciples that he was soon to suffer and be put to death – and this left the disciples completely baffled.
The disciples knew that Jesus is the Christ – they had witnessed him do many miracles and teach many things that showed them this is true.
But, at this point, they still believed that he would be a great and powerful political liberator who would defeat their enemies and restore them to great glory – like the days of David and Solomon.
They couldn’t grasp the teaching of the Christ who suffers, dies, and rises from the dead.
So, Jesus led a very confused and bewildered Peter, James, and John up on the mountain to pray.
While Jesus was praying, we are told that the disciples fell into a deep sleep.
When they awoke, they saw Jesus’ glory - he was shining as bright as the sun and he was having a conversation with Moses and Elijah.
Just imagine waking up to that!
Not only was it a miracle that Jesus was lighting up the mountaintop, but he was also having a discussion with two men who had been dead for centuries!
We are told that the topic of discussion was Jesus’ upcoming suffering and death in Jerusalem.
Likely in a state of shock, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah."
We don't know exactly what Peter was thinking, but we do know that he still didn't understand. Luke tells us that Peter didn't know what he was saying.
God the Father interrupted Peter, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!"
God the Father is basically saying to Peter, “Get rid of your preconceived notions of the Christ being a great political leader - and listen to him!”
“Listen when he says, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things…and be killed, and on the third day be raised.’"
Peter, the disciples, and many others were not looking for a saviour who would suffer and die.
The Jesus who did a bunch of miracles and lit up the mountaintop fit into their plans, but the Jesus who said he is on his way to Jerusalem to be put to death did not.
It’s part of our fallen human nature to want a saviour who is spectacular - one who will make life easy for us and grant us all of our wishes.
But thankfully God has not sent us the saviour we want - but has sent us the Saviour we need.
Our sin has separated us from God and from each other and causes us all kinds of trouble in our lives.
We let each other down. We say hurtful things. We look after our own desires and watch as others go without.
Our bodies get sick and injured.
Manmade and natural disasters wreak havoc.
And worst of all, our sin has caused death to enter God’s creation that was only filled with life.
We need to be saved - and we need more than just a strong political leader to get us out of this mess!
Dear friends, God has sent us the Saviour we need - the One who saves us from sin and eternal death.
Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?"
As we consider the Transfiguration when Jesus shone in glory and spoke of his saving work with Moses and Elijah - we see that he is the Christ.
He is the Christ who would go on to another mountain, Calvary, to suffer and die in our place.
Jesus took upon himself all of the punishment our sin deserves as he stood in our place to satisfy the justice of God.
This is the Saviour we need.
This is the Saviour that we see on the mountaintop as he shines in glory, talking with Moses and Elijah.
God the Father identified Jesus as our Saviour and told Peter, James, John (and all of us!) to listen to him, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”
Listen to him and cling to the promises he made personally yours in Holy Baptism.
You are his forgiven, loved, and redeemed child.
Listen to him as he speaks to you through his living Word which stirs-up, nourishes, and strengthens your faith and life in him.
Listen to him as he declares, “I forgive you for all of your sins.”
Listen to him as he says, “This is my body and this is my blood for the forgiveness of your sins and the strengthening of your faith.”
With these words, with his body and blood, the same Lord who was transfigured in glory, who was crucified for your sin and who was raised for eternal life - is with you and gives you his salvation.
Listen to him as he calls you and empowers you to live your life according to his will.
A life that reflects his love, charity, forgiveness, and compassion.
A life that shows the world the hope that is within you as Christ’s loved and redeemed who has the promise of eternal life.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, listen to him and receive the salvation you need won for you by the Saviour you need. Listen to him. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.