Summary: A sermon for Transfiguration of the Lord Sunday.
“Have We Changed?”
By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
One day, Jesus took Peter and James and John with Him up onto a high mountain, and “There he was transfigured before them.”
The Greek word metamorphothe is translated as ‘transfigured’.
But our understanding of the English word—metamorphosis—as a change or transformation, can be misleading.
In all actuality, the transfiguration of Jesus’ face and clothing was not a change into something new, but rather an uncovering of Who Jesus really is!
Peter, James and John witnessed, if only for a moment, the glory of God revealed in the Son.
This was the true Jesus.
There is a lot of talk these days in theological circles as to—“Who is the Real Jesus?”
Few, if any, folks will dispute the fact that a man named Jesus did indeed walk this earth 2,000 years ago, and through the work of ‘outside sources’, that is, unbiased sources outside of the Bible—like Jewish historians from that time--we know it to be fact that Jesus was indeed crucified under the watch of Pontius Pilate.
And much of the historicity of the Book of Acts is also backed up by other reliable sources as well.
So there can be little doubt that there was a Real Jesus…
…the question that many are asking is Who that Real Jesus is.
This is probably the same thing that the folks who were living during Jesus’ time on earth were asking as well—including the disciples.
In the chapter before this morning’s Lesson Jesus asked His disciples: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They came up with a number of answers.
Then Jesus asked “But what about you? Who do you say that I am?”
“Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Well, Peter was correct…
…but Peter still did not understand exactly what that meant…
…a couple of verses later when Jesus predicts His death…
“Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!’”
To which Jesus replied: “Get behind me Satan…you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
It’s interesting, that so often, when different folks try to interpret the Real Jesus…
…the Real Jesus quite often comes off looking a lot like them!
Now, that’s not too bad in one sense, because God did indeed become one of us in Jesus Christ…
…but for us to limit the Real Jesus to the finite, sinful, prejudice typecast of me or you or anyone else…
…is to do great abuse to the image of the One True God.
Paul tells us that we are “to be conformed to the likeness of” Jesus Christ…it’s not the other way around.
So, how in the world do we go about doing that?
Peter tells us that “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
Peter spent a lot of time with Jesus.
And bit by bit and piece by piece…through God’s divine power and grace Peter grew and grew and grew in his knowledge and understanding of Christ.
Eventually, Peter became so conformed to the image of Christ that he was martyred for his faith.
So the first thing we need to do is to spend as much time with Jesus as is possible.
That’s how we get to know someone.
That’s how we build a relationship, and that’s how we come to love the one we are in relationship with more and more as time passes…
…by spending time with…
…by getting to know and understanding the other…
…by experiencing life with the other.
How much time do we spend with Jesus?
How often do we pray?
Do we study the Scriptures?
Do we come to Bible study?
Do we attend a Sunday school class?
Do we come to worship, and only miss when we absolutely have to?
Do we come to the Lord’s Table every time the invitation is extended?
As United Methodist Christians we believe that Holy Communion is a means of grace.
When we come to the Table we are being nourished for our spiritual journey.
When we come to the Table the Real Presence of the Risen Christ is their with us…
…not that the bread and wine actually somehow become the flesh and blood of Christ…
…but Christ’s Real Presence is there to forgive us, revive us, awaken us, and even possibly convert us.
Of course, no one completely understands what happens at the Table, and therefore we do not need to understand everything…
…it is Christ Who offers us His grace at Holy Communion…