Sermon for The Transfiguration of Our Lord – 2.27.22

+ Transfiguration of Our Lord – February 27th, 2022 +

Series C: Deuteronomy 34; Hebrews 3:1-6; Luke 9:28-36

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“Mountains and the Messiah”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Here in the Pacific Northwest, mountains are a significant part of our way of life. Recreation. Navigation. Watersheds. The names alone speak significance Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, Mt. Olympus, each takes on significance all its own. Maybe you’ve seen the mural in downtown Sumner that beckons us to “Live like the mountain is out” or the welcome sign in Orting, “Small town – Big View.” Whether you like hiking around them, or just admiring their beauty, mountains are where big things happen.

 

The same is true in Scripture. Throughout God’s Word, mountains take on a holy significance. A lot of big things in Scripture happen on mountains.

  • Moriah, where Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Isaac yet God provided the sacrifice of a ram instead. A substitute. Later on that same mountain, David built an altar to the Lord and Solomon built the temple of the Lord.
  • Sinai, where Moses saw the burning bush, received YHWH’s covenant, he and Israel saw a theophany (divine revealing) of God, Elijah too.
  • Zion, where God promised to dwell with his people again in Jerusalem, the chosen city that was to point forward to God’s holy people and his chosen city of the holy Christian Church.

 

These sacred summits are places of divine epiphany, of revelation. A place of theophany: God revealing himself in a visible way for the benefit of his people. Whenever mountains come into view in Scripture, God is doing something big for his people.

 

It’s no accident, then, that on this last day of the season of Epiphany, when we celebrate Jesus’ transfiguration, it occurs, of all places, on a mountain. The mountains of Scripture surround, and lead to the mountain of Jesus’ transfiguration.

 

Luke starts off his account of Jesus’ transfiguration with a significant biblical number. 8. 8 days for circumcision of infant boys. 8 people in the ark. 8 becomes the number of new creation. Peter, James, and John are there on the mountain, too, serving as the Old Testament’s requirement for 2 or 3 witnesses. Testifying to what Jesus reveals on this mountain in his transfiguration.

 

As he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white.

 

Dazzling white clothing. Like the kind the angels are clothed in at Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. It’s the same word in fact! Luke’s point is simple, yet profound. If Jesus’ birth reveals that God has become man to save us, then at Jesus’ transfiguration, it is revealed once again that Jesus, who is true man is also true God. Jesus was, is, and always shall be true God. And by his incarnation, he is and always shall be true God and man. True Man full of humility and true God radiant with divine glory.

 

Notice, though, that Jesus is not alone on this mountain of his transfiguration. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory.

 

Why these guys? Both Moses and Elijah saw theophanies of God and spoke with God at Mt. Sinai. Both men embody the whole Old Testament. Moses, the Torah. Elijah, the prophets. Their presence on this mountain at Jesus’ transfiguration is a signal that all the mountains, indeed all the promises of the Old Testament, finally crest, and find their fulfillment in Jesus.

 

Not only are these two men important. So is their message. Only Luke records this little, meaningful detail. Moses and Elijah, spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”

 

What’s his “departure” you ask? The Greek word here is far richer and deeper, it’s the word “exodus.” Moses and Elijah spoke with Jesus about his exodus, which he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.

 

Wait, the exodus? The one where God rescued and redeemed his people from bondage to slavery in Egypt? Yes. The very same one. When Moses and Elijah converse with Jesus on this mountain top meeting, they’re discussing Jesus’ exodus he is about to accomplish in Jerusalem. And so the mountain of Jesus’ transfiguration leads us to the mountain of his crucifixion.

 

All the mountains of Scripture lead you to Mt. Calvary. To the great exile of the cross where Jesus will be forsaken by the Father for you. Where the greater Isaac will be sacrificed as a substitute for you. Where all the punishments of Law that we have broken will come down on Jesus like an avalanche. Where all the curses that we deserved from Mt. Sinai will cascade down upon him and crush him under the mountainous dung heap of our sin.

 

Once again, on a mountain top, Jesus does big things – the biggest off all – he saves sinners by becoming sin for you. Already at the mountain of Jesus’ transfiguration, the mountain of his crucifixion is on the horizon. On that mountain where Jesus is crucified, he embarks upon the greatest exile of history, his exile to the cross, and down under the mountain and into the grave. But not just his grave. Yours and mine and the whole world’s. God does big things on this mountain.

 

God also does big things under this mountain. Three days later, Jesus returns from his exodus under the earth, in your grave, and rises again. And when Jesus walks out from the grave he does so like one of those mountain rescuers, carrying you and all humanity upon his shoulders.

 

What the prophets long foretold, Jesus accomplishes. A worldwide exile in which the lost, fallen children of Adam and Eve, will finally return home. What Jesus does on this mountain of transfiguration, and at his crucifixion, he does for you, and for all. Jesus dies, you die. Jesus rises, you rise. Jesus lives, you live. Jesus is glorified, you are glorified in Jesus.

 

Did Peter, James, and John understand all of this as they sat on that mountain top witnessing Jesus’ transfiguration? Of course not. But, by God’s grace, they would. And by God’s grace you do as well.

 

And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”  And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.

 

What’s true for the disciples is true for you as well. Listen to Jesus. His voice. His Word. His word resounds and rings, down from all the mountains of Holy Scripture, to you, here on Mt. Zion, the church. On this mountain, God continues to do big things for you in his life giving words and healing waters and nourishing, forgiving, sustaining body and blood. In Jesus’ transfiguration we see the glory of his coming death and resurrection for you, where Jesus brings us through the great exodus of his cross and empty tomb to give us freedom, life, and redemption.

 

A blessed day of the Transfiguration of Our Lord to each of you…

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

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