Sermon for Transfiguration Sunday – 2.19.23

+ The Transfiguration of Our Lord – February 22nd, 2023 +

Series A:

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA


“Only Jesus”


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


If you’re looking for a Happy Transfiguration Sunday card at the Dollar Tree, I’m guessing you won’t find one. Christmas. Easter. We understand those days. But what’s so important about Jesus’ transfiguration?


And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.


The word is “metamorphasized”. Changed appearance. Transfigured. Ever tried looking at the sun? (And I highly recommend that you don’t). It was like that but the light was radiating from Jesus’s face. Think about that the next time you hear the benediction: “the Lord make his face shine upon you.” For a moment, the veil of Jesus’ humility is pulled back. Christ’s glory is revealed. The glory that once filled tabernacle and temple is seen in the man Jesus. This isn’t Mighty Morphin’ Power Jesus or Transformer Jesus – though there is more than meets the eye. All the fullness of deity dwelt in him bodily, as Paul says.


Epiphany is a season about revealing, making known, and manifesting who Jesus really is.

That’s exactly what Jesus is doing on the mountain. Jesus’ Transfiguration reveals who he is and what he’s come to do. Jesus’ transfiguration reveals his glorious divinity and death for you.


And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.


Don’t you love God’s sense of humor here, the irony that the two men in the OT who wanted to see YHWH’s glory (and couldn’t but were both hidden in a cave to protect them from it) now get to see it radiating from the incarnate God-Man, Jesus. Now in Jesus, it’s safe to be in the presence of God’s glory. Now in Jesus you can see the face of God and live to tell about it. It’s no coincidence that Moses and Elijah are there. Mr. Torah and Mr. Prophesy, standing, talking with Jesus like old friends. It’s a great sneak preview of the resurrection. And a reminder everything these two prophets spoke is fulfilled in Jesus.


But Peter interrupts the conversation: “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”


Peter says what everyone else is thinking. We’ve all thought it before. “Wow! What a sight. Wish I could’ve been there, even as a little lizard on the mountain top. Just to see it for a moment.”


In truth, we’re a lot like Peter. We want the mountain. The experience. We prefer the glory to the cross. We prefer the power and the majesty of a Jesus who shines with unearthly glory than a beaten and bloodied Jesus who hangs dead and defeated. But here’s the rub: you don’t get the glory without the cross. If all that Jesus did was appear shining on a mountain to three of His disciples, we’d still be dead in sin.


Thankfully, before Peter could build his shrines, God the Father interrupts Peter. A thick cloud covered the mountain. The same cloud that covered Sinai; filled the tabernacle and temple. The Father’s voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him.”


Epiphany ends as it began: with the Father’s voice resounding: the Lord’s presence in the cloud, and Jesus standing in our place. We heard these words at Jesus’ baptism. Now as Epiphany gives way to Lent, we hear these words again: “Hear Him.” 


We might want to go to that mountain, but you don’t need to go to. We don’t need to go find the glory of God. The mountain comes to you. God’s glory comes to you….in Jesus. Christ draws near, comes to you personally in the water of your Baptism, in the bread and wine of the Supper, in the spoken Word of forgiveness, wherever two or three gathered in His name. The Scriptures, the Font, the Altar – here’s your mountain. Here’s the place where Jesus meets you.


This is why Peter hangs all hope – not on the glorious vision – but on God’s word: For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,”  we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure, the prophetic word…


Jesus’ Word is that “something more sure”. In our life as stewards of God’s gifts at home and in this congregation, Christ’s word is our great treasure. In our life of speaking the Gospel with others, Christ’s word is a firm foundation. In our life of devotion and prayer, Christ’s word is our life. In all our daily vocations, Christ’s word leads and guides us, and reveals Jesus’ promises to us. Jesus’ transfiguration reveals his glorious divinity and death for you.


And that’s the key. Without the cross we don’t understand Jesus. Without the cross we have no idea how to live as Jesus’ disciple either. Peter sure didn’t…at least not until after the resurrection.         Like Peter our fear is exposed. Fear is our denial of God’s promises in the first commandment, that he will be our God and we need no other. And people do strange things when they’re afraid. The disciples fell on their faces.


What about us? When our friendships and family bonds are strained, finances are tight, futures are uncertain…do we fear, love and trust in God above all things or do we panic, turn inward on ourselves and lean on someone or something else? What about our life as God’s people? When it’s hard to find people to serve, when we wonder what the future holds for us as God’s people, when our friends constantly reject our invitations to church, do we fear, love, and trust in Christ’s word and sacraments to do what he says they will or do we panic, turn inward, and lean on other spiritual means of hope and comfort? The same light of Jesus’ transfiguration that revealed Peter’s foolishness also exposes the folly of our sin.


And yet, look how Jesus answered his disciples. “Arise. Get up. Stop fearing.” That’s death and resurrection language. Arise. Stop fearing. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.


The glory was gone. The cloud…gone. Moses and Elijah…gone. The splendor, the mountain-top moment…the divine revelation all of it…gone. Except for Jesus. They saw Jesus only.


Moses and Elijah can’t save you. Jesu’s word opens heaven for you. Jesus’s word forgives your sin. Jesus’ word feeds and nourishes you along with his body and blood. Jesus’ word will raise you from the dead. Arise. Do not fear. Jesus spoke those same words after his resurrection to the women as they left the empty tomb in grief and confusion. Arise. Have no fear.


That’s why Jesus charges his disciples, “Tell no one the vision until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” Jesus’ transfiguration only makes sense after His death and resurrection.


Jesus’ Transfiguration reveals his divinity and his death…but also his resurrection. You will see shining, glorious Jesus one day. Jesus will come again in glory to raise us from the dead and give us eternal life. You’ll see Moses and Elijah and all the saints. And we won’t need any tents to preserve the moment, because the moment will be an eternity. And what a sight that will be.


But for now, the mountain of transfiguration gives way to the mountain of crucifixion. Alleluias give way to ashes. Shining Jesus gives way to crucified Jesus. Transfiguration Sunday gives way to Ash Wednesday. And in all this the Father is pleased with his Son, and through His Son Jesus, he is well pleased with you.



A blessed Transfiguration Sunday 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.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday

By appointment only June and July


2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
(253) 922-6977
(253) 922-6977