Summary: We want to see what the disciples saw at the Transfiguration and say with them,"It is good to be here!"
February 22, 2004 — Transfiguration/Last Sunday after the Epiphany
Christ Lutheran Church, Columbia, MD
Pastor Jeff Samelson
Wake Up and See the Glory
I. Christ’s True Nature
II. A Taste of Heaven
III. The Source of All You Need
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Word of God for our study this Sunday is found in Luke 9:26-38:
About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters-- one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)
While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen. (NIV)
This is the Gospel of our Lord.
Dear Waiting and Waking Disciples of our Glorious Lord:
What, in your life, have you missed because you just couldn’t manage to wake up in time? The bus? A flight? Breakfast? The chance to say goodbye to someone special, or to see a once-in-lifetime event?
There are many things in life that we miss, or come close to missing, because we’re asleep, or just plain sleepy. Maybe it’s an experience we don’t want to miss. Maybe it’s an obligation that we can’t forget about. Maybe it’s an opportunity that we don’t want to let pass by. Whatever it is, it’s worth waking up for, and so we’re thankful — eventually, anyway — when a mother, or a spouse, or a friend takes the trouble to make sure we don’t give in to that voice that’s telling us to stay in bed. Sometimes we’re even thankful for an alarm clock that won’t let us roll over and go back to dreamland. “Wake up!” we’re told, “You don’t want to miss this!”
Peter, James, and John were very sleepy, Luke tells us. Their bodies and minds both were telling them to keep their eyes closed, their heads down, and their breathing slow. But something woke them from their slumber that night on a high mountain in Galilee — and you can be sure that they were thankful for the rest of their lives that something was knocking on the door of their unconsciousness and saying, “Wake up! Wake up, and see the glory!”
I. And that’s what they saw, of course — they saw Jesus in all his glory — and Moses and Elijah standing there with him. Can you imagine what a shock that must have been to those three disciples? When they started drifting off, they were with Jesus, whom they had seen do some amazing things but whom they had only ever seen as a man, and here they were, waking up and rubbing the sleep out of their eyes and seeing a transfigured Jesus, his face shining with the light of heaven and his clothes radiating the glory of God. I mean, that would have been quite a sight and mental adjustment even if Jesus had told them in the middle of the day, “I’m going to be transfigured now; get ready,” but here this is what they were waking up to. It’s no wonder they were confused and afraid. No doubt they were remembering what happens when sinful men come face to face with God’s holy power and glory: they die.
But that didn’t happen, and that’s because there was a reason why Jesus had brought them there that day — this transfiguration was more for their sake than his. They needed to see his glory.
What Peter, James, and John woke up to see was a revelation. It was evidence. It was an experience. It was power. It was Jesus as no one had ever seen him before. And most of all, it was a real, live, in-your-face demonstration of who Jesus really was.
Because Jesus’ transfiguration set aside once and for all any notion they could have had that this man, Jesus, was just a man. The glory they saw in, surrounding, and coming from Jesus was God’s glory, but it was his own glory. Earlier, Peter had confessed their faith that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God — and now they saw the proof. Jesus was so much more than just a teacher or a prophet gifted by God — he was God himself in human flesh. Throughout his time on earth Jesus had set aside his divine power and glory, but for this brief moment he took it up again. There could be no question any more that Jesus was God as much as he was man.