Summary: A sermon for The Transfiguration of Our Lord, Series B
The Transfiguration of Our Lord, February 22, 2009 “Series B”
Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, on this last Sunday in the season of Epiphany, we recall how Peter, James and John were given a glimpse of your Son’s divine glory. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, increase our faith in the future glory that we share with him, as a result of our faith and baptism into his death and resurrection, that we might live our lives reflecting your redeeming grace to those around us. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.
For the past six weeks, our Gospel lessons have focused on revealing to us that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. On the day of Epiphany, had we celebrated that event, we would have heard the story of the visit of the magi to proclaim the infant Jesus to be the king of the nations. Then, on the first Sunday after Epiphany, we recalled our Lord’s baptism, in which Mark tells us that God’s Spirit descended upon Jesus, and a voice from heaven declared him to be God’s beloved Son, in whom he was pleased.
And with lightning speed, we moved through the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, in which he called his first disciples, assuming authority to rename Simon as Peter. Mark declared that he taught with the authority of the incarnate Word of God. He cast out demons with a spoken word. He healed the sick, even cleansing a leper of his disease and restored him to the fellowship of his community. And this all took place in the very first chapter of Mark’s Gospel.
Clearly, Mark wanted his readers to gain an understanding of who Jesus is, before he goes on to describe the events of his ministry in Galilee, which comprise the next seven chapters of his Gospel. But then, right in the middle of his Gospel, just as Jesus is about to leave Galilee and go to Jerusalem and the cross, we encounter Mark’s witness to our Lord’s transfiguration. It is, as if Mark wants to leave no doubt in our minds and hearts, about just who Jesus is, as he begins his journey to the cross for our redemption.
Now, I am going to ask you to do something that us preachers hate to see on any given Sunday, but if you like, close your eyes and try to picture yourself climbing that mountain with Jesus, as one of his disciples. The day is clear, and the softness of the wind is a little chilling to your face, as the beads of sweat from the climb evaporate. As we reach the summit, a calm begins to settle in, as we look forward to a time of reflection with Jesus, and a bit of rest before heading back down the mount.
Then suddenly, Jesus’ clothes become brighter and brighter, emanating a light of their own, even brighter than day. And as this was happening, you gain a glimpse of two others, who mysteriously appear from out of thin air, whom you instinctively sense are the persons of Moses and Elijah. They are talking with Jesus, even though you can’t hear what they are saying.
As you are witnessing this, a dark cloud moves in and blocks the sun, so that the only illumination comes from the presence of Jesus. The scene before your eyes is eerie. It is terrifying. You don’t know what to do, whether to get up and flee, or to stay in awe of the situation. Then a rumble comes from the cloud, in a voice that is understandable, which simply says, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” And when you dare to open your eyes, the whole scene has vanished before you, and you are simply left looking at Jesus, a person of flesh and blood.
Now, let me say again, dare to open your eyes! Now, I did not expect that through this exercise, that anyone had an experience of Jesus’ true identity, as was manifest to Peter, James and John. But I do know that some of us, through the power of God’s Spirit, have experienced an epiphany or manifestation of Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God. In fact, I can recall a couple of times in which I was overwhelmed by the experience of the presence of God in my life.
And although those experiences have served to strengthen my faith in Jesus as God’s Son and my redeemer, I am painfully aware that I have not fully understood those experiences. Nor did Peter James and John fully grasp the significance of what they experienced the day on the mount. It is almost as if, when God pulls back the veil to offer us a glimpse of his presence, we can not fully comprehend it.