The Transfiguration of Our Lord
Passage: Mark 9:2–9:9
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Mark 9:2-9
Date: February 11th, 2018; Transfiguration Sunday; Series B
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.
Epiphany is a season of revealing.
The word epiphany literally means a revealing of something that lay hidden, unseen by the world.
The season of Epiphany is about God revealing himself in our Lord Christ Jesus.
The season began with the star leading the magi so that they could see and worship the child Messiah.
In the following Sundays, we heard of the epiphany to the people at the Jordan River as Jesus was Baptized. The Holy Spirit descended on him as a dove and the Father in heaven proclaimed him to be his Son in whom he is well pleased.
We heard the revealing of Jesus as he clearly taught the people at a synagogue that he is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies – he told them plainly that he is the Messiah they were expecting.
We heard of the epiphany of Jesus as he demonstrated the power and authority of his Word that rebukes demons and miraculously brings the sick back to health.
These accounts, these epiphanies, are not meant to simply cause us to think, “Wow, that Jesus is sure powerful!”
No, St. John tells us the true purpose of these accounts when he said, “…these things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).
Finally, today, we hear of the epiphany of Jesus’ Transfiguration. When he is in the presence of Moses and Elijah and his appearance is – well to put it mildly – changed.
Just imagine that you are with Peter, John, and James as they accompany Jesus up this mountain to pray.
While praying you look over and see Jesus - and he is as bright as a flash of lightening from the sky! He is so bright that your eyes can hardly bear looking at him.
And not only are you seeing Jesus shining brilliantly like this, you also see him talking to Moses and Elijah! Moses! Elijah!
These men were called by God to play such an important role in bringing about his plan of salvation for humanity. They are heroes!
They died centuries ago - but there they are talking with Jesus!
Then, standing in a daze after seeing these incredible things - a cloud falls on you like a blanket. You can’t see a thing.
You hear a loud voice boom from heaven, it says, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him” (Mark 9:7).
As the cloud lifts you see Jesus standing alone, looking like himself again.
If water being turned into wine, miraculous healings, evil spirits being cast out, boat loads of fish - if all of these epiphanies didn’t convince you that Jesus is God in the flesh – then certainly the Transfiguration should.
Now, imagine as you are standing on top of this mountain where the Transfiguration took place - you see another mountain in the distance.
Upon this mountain you see 3 crosses. This is mount Calvary.
It is upon this mountain that our Lord was crucified, nailed to a cross, for our sins.
Of course, between the mountain on which we stand and mount Calvary is a valley.
A long expanse of land way down below separating the two mountain peaks.
Today, on the mountain of the Transfiguration, we get to see that Jesus is truly the Son of God, fully human and fully divine.
He is the long-awaited Saviour promised by God!
On this mountain it is made abundantly clear that Jesus is no ordinary man. He is not simply a great teacher or prophet.
He is the Chosen One, full of glory!
Thank God for this epiphany! Thank God for revealing himself to us so clearly on this mountain of Transiguration!
Because from here - it is nothing but downhill.
In the season of Lent we join our Lord as he makes his way down this mountain into the valley of death. We accompany him as he puts away his glory and takes on humility.
In humility our Lord goes down into the valley where he spends forty-days with the devil. There he experiences what it is like to feel painful hunger. There he experiences what it is like to face temptation. There he experiences what it is like to be human.
As our Lord makes his way down into the valley during the season of Lent he continues to perform miracles and teach about the kingdom of God.
But, he is rejected even more by the people. He is disrespected. There are many who want to kill him for what he is doing and teaching.
We make the journey with our Lord into the valley remembering that it is our sin that has caused him to suffer.
It is a reminder that sin is the cause of all of the valleys in our lives.
The valleys that are caused by our relationship problems. When conflict with our friends and family cause such heartache and turmoil in our lives.
The valleys in our lives that are caused by injury and illnesses. When we, or someone we love, are sick or are in pain - the dark shadows of the valley quickly creep in on us.
The valleys in our lives brought upon by death. When those we love die - it can seem like there is no way out. The valley can seem overwhelming.
With our Lord, in the valley, we experience shame and humiliation, pain and suffering. With our Lord, in the valley, we experience life in a fallen and sinful world.
But as we stand in that valley, we look back and see the top of the mountain of Transfiguration where Christ Jesus was revealed in glory to be the Son of God!
We look back and see that he truly is the Promised One who has come to put an end to all pain and suffering and death.
And as we look forward, to the top of mount Calvary, we see the instrument through which he would accomplish all of this for us.
The instrument was a wooden cross that was used by the Romans to punish criminals.
In this valley, as we enter into the season of Lent, we look back and see Christ in glory shining like a flash of lightening.
Then we look forward and see his ultimate act of pain and suffering, his ultimate act of humility as he hangs to die on a cross.
But we also look beyond Mount Calvary, we look forward to Easter Sunday when Christ rose from the grave showing that sin and death are defeated!
How important are the words of our heavenly Father that we heard on top of the mountain of the Transfiguration, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”
How important these words are in the valley of Lent and in the valley of our lives.
Listen to him; cling to the promises he made personally yours, in Holy Baptism. You are his loved and redeemed child. This promise is yours no matter how deep the valleys in your life become.
Listen to him as he says, “I forgive you for all of your sins.” He took upon himself the punishment your sins deserve. You are forgiven. You are set free.
Listen to him when he says, “This is my body and this is my blood for the forgiveness of sins.” 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.
Listen to him, for by His Word he remains with you. By his Word he sustains your faith in all that he has accomplished for you. By his Word he brings you out of the valley of death to eternal life. Thanks be to God! Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.