Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
We’ve done it! The Epiphany season has come to a close; our Lord has been Baptized with our sin, He’s been tempted by Satan, yet has been so without sin, He’s changed water into wine, He’s healed and cast demons out by His authoritative Word and has shown us that He is the great Love that Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 12 and 13 in fact, His love is that which shall be splagidzomai’d to us. Epiphany has revealed the Messiah and over the next six weeks we will see just what this Love of Christ looks like as He pours out His guts, and indeed His life for us. How much does your Lord and Savior love you? He splagidzomai’s you, loves you from His guts and pours that love out to you super abundantly and here, on the mount of transfiguration, the sprint to Christ’s glory on cross begins.
Today, Luke sets before us a Transfiguration, a word that literally means, a changing in form and figure, a metamorphosis seen today in “the appearance of His face being altered, and His clothing was extra dazzling white.” A change happened, a coronation of sorts, where the Old Testament law giver Moses and the Old Testament Prophet Elijah witnessed and testified, in one brief moment, who this Jesus was and what He had come to do for us. And while Christ’s disciples were fast asleep, the Law and Prophets continued to testify of the True Kings Glory and the place where the salvation would be won, Moses and Elijah remind us that His glory, indeed all glory, would come for us in His coming departure, literally, as the Greek text shows an ??????, an Exodus, Christ’s exodus for us.
Glory in Exodus? Glory in departing? Glory derived from Suffering? My friends, you are all vaguely aware of the Exodus‘ written about in the Old Testament, Adam and Eve banished, sent out on an Exodus from the promised land, so to, Moses sent out from slavery in Egypt to Exodus in the wilderness for 40 years. Exodus’ aren’t exactly the place where we expect to derive glory from, are they? In fact Exodus‘ connote a departing from, a being cast away. And so it is today that Moses and Elijah reveal to us our Lord’s perfect Exodus from the bondage of sin, death and the devil. My friends that which had been spoken about for millennia in the Law and Prophets would find its culmination in Christ and the final Exodus was one that Christ your Lord would enter into alone, would suffer alone for you! Your King begins His triumphant march, His Exodus, to Calvary, on your behalf, to die the bloody death that your sin had sentenced you to, to carry your sin to be killed with Him. Moses and Elijah came testifying that glory would come… but reminding us that suffering always precedes glory, but groggy ole Peter, well he just doesn’t seem to get it.
No, indeed, Peter, like you and me, is awakened and not knowing what he is saying speaks to our King “Doctor, Smart Guy… Jesus it’s really good that we are here right now, this glory that we’re seeing right now is terrific! Let’s make three tents one for You and Moses and Elijah so that this glory may never end.”
Peter, the beloved one, Jesus favorite; He had been told of all that was to happen to our Lord and He knew that the time of reckoning was fast approaching, in fact just days before Peter had confessed Christ to be the Lord, the One who had come for the salvation of the world but now, Peter, enamored by the here and now became fixated on the glimpse of heavenly glory that was before his eyes and wished to keep it as it was, it was a moment that Peter didn’t want to end. He wanted things to continue as they were in order that the suffering he had been told of would not come to pass. Peter couldn’t fathom true glory and was content to maintain the glimpse of glory, the peep show, the snip-it the sound byte of glory that was there before him in Christ’s transfiguration.
Peter is what is known as a theologian of glory, caring not for the substance or the way to true and lasting glory which could only come through the death of His Lord, instead focusing on what he could do to maintain things, focusing on the glory now but forgetting the perfect glory that could only come if Christ died. And too often, we like Peter, become fixated on the glory, the snip-it’s the highlights of glory in this present world, and in so doing we look past the fact that Jesus uses these transfiguration moments not as events which actually bring glory, but rather as the finest teaching points of His entire ministry, to show forth the glory that will be bestowed to us by His bloody, transformative, substitutionary death on Mount Calvary.
True glory, eternal glory, substantive glory follows suffering. And to prepare His disciples both then and now, for the suffering ahead, Christ gives us a glimpse, a foretaste of the glory that shall come to all of us. But as it is when the theologians of glory rear their ugly heads in our own lives Peter and indeed all theologians of glory must always emphasize something that they must do; “what must I be doing to maintain this glory?” Peter wanted to build tents and too often we look to build earthly homes to protect the interests of our own temporal fulfillment’s. For this we must repent.
We are all too happy to look for the temporal fulfillment of the transfiguration and live a theology of glory, believing that the Christian life is that which filled with only radiance, joy, smiling faces and a grasp at the life triumphant, the life victorious which we believe can be seen through temporal wealth, prosperity, good health and the like. But my friends this is not what Jesus is showing us and His disciples today, Jesus is not teaching us that we can have our best lives now, indeed He is showing us that our best lives, lives without sin, lives without fear wrest only in Him and what He has done for us.
Let’s put this into perspective; The last time I looked in the mirror I didn’t see things getting better, instead I found wrinkles around my eyes, saggy skin, and the scale keeps telling me to lay off the cookies; and as I look out into this congregation I see lost hair, arms in splints, people with aches and pains. The reality is that we too often look at events like the transfiguration and think, like Peter, that Jesus and Moses and Elijah, yeah the entire premise of Christianity is about receiving an extreme body make-over. Too many are looking for how Christianity can be made relevant to their lives now in order that we may avoid the suffering that does come. But dear children of the King, there are no guarantees that poverty, pain, suffering, poor health and the like will not strike us at various points in our lives and this is why the Transfiguration is so very important! Your lives and mine as Christians will be plagued with disaster, sickness, disease and plenty of bad days, and the transfiguration, yes indeed the entire premise of Christianity is to show us that in spite of these things, yes even in the midst of them, that we may know that joy can be had in the midst of suffering, peace can be had in the midst of poverty and sickness. The transfiguration gives us a glimpse in His radiance, of the true and everlasting glory that will be won for all when He hangs on His cross shaped throne to banish death by his death. We are not theologians of glory but indeed are theologians, indeed Christians that must look only at the Cross. We are theologians of the Cross and it is this transfigured Lord of yours who will hang in what looks like bloody shame to the world but is in this salvific work that will sign seal and deliver the promises spoken about in Revelation 7. The promise of our transformation, indeed our own transfiguration is made complete by our Lord’s death, those of you who have been in the Sunday morning bible study are aware of this, listen closely to how the elder describes our present times; “Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Today we get a glimpse of the certainty that is ours now already by faith and will be ours fully on the last day. The radiance of Jesus white (with clothing brighter than anyone can bleach them) is reality for all the baptized…. the ones clothed in white robes, for you! Indeed, Jesus from the mount of transfiguration was preparing for the final exodus from sin, death and the devil, He would face our enemies of sin, death and the Devil alone so that we wouldn’t have to. He faced the worst that we humans could muster, scourging, cursing, and the most agonizing and damning death known to man in order that we may never be alone, He would fulfill all the law in our stead, He would die the death that we deserved in order to reconcile us to the Father, Here on the Mount of transfiguration Jesus gives us a glimpse of our future, our transformation, our certainty and our hope! And the Law and prophets testify to the legitimacy of the entire plan of God the Father for our salvation.
There is no need for us to build temporal tents, like Peter, to house these promises. There is no work that you and I must do dear brothers and sisters for your Savior and King shall and has splagidzomai’d you, pour Himself out for you. Your King has promised you that your glory isn’t ephemeral, it isn’t temporary, your glory that you share with Christ your King is guaranteed and it is this promise which shall galvanize you as you too face the worst that this world has for you. And lest you forget whose you are, hear the words your Heavenly Father speaks to you today… “This is my Son, my Chosen One; continue always to listen to him!” Keenly listen and hear what your King has done for you as you trudge the road of Lent together. Dear children of God, grasp not for glimpses of glory, but instead cling steadfastly to His word and promise that you see fully by faith now that all this King has done, indeed all that He is still doing through His bride the church, has been done for you! And in the end, you shall see by sight that eternal glory which has been promised to you and to all the baptized.
The transfiguration gives you a glimpse of what your Christian future is. As Moses lead the Israelites out of the wilderness into the promised land so now Jesus leads you to your eternal glory. The transfiguration is an anticipatory event showing us in a glimpse the glory that awaits all who have been redeemed by His blood, the glory that is indeed guaranteed to you already.