The Transfiguration of Our Lord
Passage: Matthew 17:1–17:9
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Matthew 17:1-9
Date: February 26th, 2017; The Transfiguration; Series A
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Experts agree that the key to a healthy relationship is communication.
Good communication is important in all of our relationships – our relationships with our family, our friends, and our co-workers.
And the most important part of good communication is listening.
It’s easy to talk - but it is much more difficult to listen.
And not only listen by being quiet - but really listen. Really hear and try to understand what the other person is trying to communicate.
This is difficult.
And it can become more difficult to truly hear someone when we are familiar with a person.
This happens often between husbands and wives. Couples become so familiar with one another that at times they stop listening.
I must admit that there have been times when I am enjoying an Edmonton Oilers game on TV and my lovely wife Natalie will start talking to me and I will not truly listen to what she is saying.
Sure, I hear the words, but I am not engaged the way that I should be. I am not truly listening.
And this can lead to those awkward moments a few days later when she tells me it’s time to go somewhere and I have absolutely no idea what she is talking about.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has found themselves in this situation. When someone is talking to us, we hear them, but we are not truly listening.
This not only happens in our relationships with friends and family, it also happens in our relationship with God.
Our communication with God breaks down. We might hear him, but we stop listening.
This can even happen to us, God’s people, as we might come to church, hear the liturgy, hear the prayers, hear the readings, hear the hymns – but we are not truly listening.
The noise of our sinful flesh, of the world, of Satan drowns out what God has to say to us.
It seems many in this world are turning a deaf ear to what God has to say.
God speaks to us and tells us that we are to love and fear him above all things. That he is to be first in our lives. That he is to be the foundation of who we are and what we do. But we don’t like to listen.
We would rather listen to our sinful nature that tells us that we can and should do whatever we want whenever we want.
We like to listen to our sinful nature that tells us that we should keep ourselves first – that we should look out for number one. It’s the survival of the fittest.
We don’t like to listen to God who has clearly revealed himself and his will for our lives. We like to create a god that we want. A god who supports us in all of our sinful desires. A god we turn into a genie who is there to grant us every wish.
We don’t like to listen to God when he tells us that we are to love our neighbour as ourselves. That we are to be forgiving, charitable, and kind. That we are to serve our neighbour as we are able.
We prefer to listen to our sinful nature that likes to hold grudges. That wants to hold onto everything we have. That likes to receive and be served by others. Who cares about anyone else, as long as I have what I need?
This kind of background noise of sin can prevent us from truly listening to God.
When we are honest with ourselves we must recognize and admit that - although we may hear God - we do not always listen.
We do not always listen to God and we do not live our lives according to his will - and for this we repent.
Our gospel lesson for this morning describes the Transfiguration of Jesus.
This was a spectacular event and there are so many things that can be considered and discussed in this text, but let’s focus on this part, “[Peter] 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.”
God the Father said this to Peter, James, and John.
But make no mistake, he is also speaking to you today.
Christ Jesus is God the Father’s beloved Son and you ought to listen to him.
And what does Jesus have to say?
Well, there is no doubt that our Lord demands that we live our lives according to his will. He made it clear that our sin is serious and has eternal consequences.
You may remember from a couple of Sundays ago that Jesus said that it would be better for us to tear out our eyes and cut off our limbs than to allow them to cause us to sin (Matthew 5:29-30).
We do well to listen to our Lord and to live our lives according to his will.
But that is not all that Jesus has to say to you.
And this is another area where many seem not to be listening.
Christianity is often heard only to be a list of dos and don’ts. Or, it is heard as an instruction manual for how to earn your way to heaven.
But this is not what Jesus has to say to you. So listen.
Jesus says to you: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Listen as Jesus invites you to come to him with your sin, your worries, your turmoil.
By his grace he removes from you the weight of your sin and the burden of your guilt. He gives you peace and rest.
You need not bear the burden of your sin and the weight of your guilt because Jesus took it upon himself when he suffered and died on the cross for you.
For the sake of Jesus, your sins are forgiven, your guilt is removed, and your relationship with God is restored.
Listen to Jesus as he speaks words of forgiveness and acceptance in the blessed waters of your Holy Baptism.
Your baptism may have been long ago – but listen again to what Jesus promised and gave to you through water and his Word as taught in Luther’s Small Catechism.
“[Baptism] works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.”
Listen to Jesus as you receive his true body and blood in Holy Communion. He says to you, “Take, eat; this is my body, which is given for you. Take, drink; this is my blood shed for you for the forgiveness of your sin.”
Again, from Luther’s Small Catechism, “These words, ‘Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,’ show us that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.”
Dear friends, good communication is essential in our relationships with each other and truly listening to what the other person is saying is paramount.
This is also true in our relationship with God.
God has given us his Word to clearly communicate that in Christ our sin is forgiven and we have the gift of eternal life.
Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26). 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.