Sermon for Transfiguration of our Lord – 2.11.24

+ Transfiguration of our Lord – February 11th, 2024 +

Series B: 2 Kings 2:1-12; 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:6; Mark 9:2-9

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

“The Transfiguration Declaration”

 

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

 

There are certain moments in life where words are said that change you. Words that transform you.

 

“I do.”             “It’s a girl.”    “It’s a boy.”                “I forgive you.”

 

Think for a moment of a time when someone’s words changed, or transformed you. Where you were transformed by what someone said. Think about what was said. About how those words changed or transformed you. And keep that idea in mind as we hear St. Mark’s account of Jesus’ transfiguration.

 

When we think about Jesus’ transfiguration the first thing that comes to mind is the changing, the transfiguring, of Jesus’ appearance. And that’s an important part of the story. But there’s more. Not so much what is seen but what is heard. The most important thing at the transfiguration isn’t the eyes – though there’s plenty to see – but the ears. You could call the mountain of Jesus’ transfiguration the mountain of the Father’s declaration. God speaks. And when he speaks, he makes a promise and a declaration and good news: This is my beloved Son; listen to him.

 

Jesus’ transfiguration is a day of declaration of God’s promises to you in his Son Jesus. So that’s what we do. We find our Sabbath rest in Jesus’ word. We listen to Jesus. And in hearing Jesus word, we hear his promises and we are forgiven by his grace. We are changed as well… From guilt to pardon. From captivity to sin to freedom in Christ. From condemned to justified It’s all given to you by the Father’s declaration, in the beloved Son who is transfigured here on this mountain and will soon be crucified on another mountain.

 

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.

 

After six days. It might sound random. But this is not the first time God has done something after the sixth day. God spoke creation into being in 6 days, and on the 7th day rested – day of rest in his word. After six days Moses ascended Mt. Sinai where God spoke and delivered his word. On the 6th day of Holy Week, Good Friday, Jesus speaks a word of salvation and fulfilment from the cross: “it is finished.” When Mark begins the transfiguration account with “after six days”, it’s a signal that God is about to do something with his word.

 

What came first, however, was a sight to behold. Jesus was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one[a] on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.

 

When Matthew, Luke, and here, Mark, record Jesus’ transfiguration, they all describe it a little different. It makes sense. How do you describe something like Jesus’ transfiguration?

 

Peter recognizes the glory of the moment: “Rabbi, it is good that we are here.” He was right. It was good. It was glorious. And yet, the Father wanted us all to know that his glory comes not so much by what is seen, but by what is heard. Bright shining Jesus was not yet the climax of the story. God had something greater for his disciples. Remember, Jesus’ transfiguration isn’t only about what’s seen…it’s about what will be heard. It’s not a day for the eyes, but the ears.

 

That’s the way Peter puts it later on in his epistle (2 Peter) when he recalls Jesus’ transfiguration he points us not only to what he and James and John saw that day…but to what they heard. To God’s word. In 2 Peter 1, he writes, “We were eyewitness of his majesty…we heard the voice from heaven…but you have something more sure: the prophetic word.

 

But before Peter turned into Bob the Builder there on Mt. Tabor, a cloud overshadowed the mountain.

The disciples attention – and ours – is drawn away from what is seen to what is heard.

 

This is my beloved Son; listen to him.

 

We’ve heard these words before. The Father said something similar at Jesus’ baptism. You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased. And we’ll hear something like this again at Jesus’ crucifixion, from a Roman centurion of all people: Truly this man was the Son of God. Jesus’ baptism. Transfiguration. And his crucifixion…all tied together with the word of promise. This is my beloved Son whose word is life, the transfigured, crucified, and risen one…His word is life for you.

 

Martin Luther once commented that if you want to see God take your eyes and put them in your ears. Faith comes by hear and hearing by the word of Christ, Paul says. Jesus has been telling his disciples all along… the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.

 

This is the word of God, the good news, the words of eternal life that Jesus speaks and accomplishes for you. Jesus transfiguration shows a change, but not for the disciples, not for us yet… that comes when Jesus is on the cross and walks out of the grave. And yet it is the same Lord and same word at work in both places. God’s word spoken at Jesus’ transfiguration calls us forward to the words Jesus speaks as he dies on the cross and rises again from the dead. And it is this word – the word of the cross that changes and transforms us…from sinners to saints, from fearful like the disciples to the gift of faith in Jesus, from dead in trespasses to justified in Jesus.

 

The words spoken by God on the mountain of Jesus’ transfiguration point us to Jesus’ words spoken on the mountain of Calvary. There, Jesus hung on the cross. It was midday. The sun should’ve been shining. But it wasn’t. Darkness and cloud covered the mountain. Creation lost its light. Christ’s once gleaming clothes were gambled away with a roll of the dice. Jesus is naked, His body bruised and bloody, a piece of sport to the mockers who pass by. And once again, God speaks. He declares a word for you: It is finished.Your sin, your doubt, your death, your guilt, your shame – it’s all finished. Jesus gets the last word. It is the word of forgiveness.

 

Back on the mountain of Jesus’ transfiguration, the Father said to Jesus, “This is my beloved Son.” And in Jesus, this word belongs to you as well. You are beloved. By word, water, and his promise, the Father says to you, “You are my beloved son and daughter.”

 

He says this not on the basis of who we are, or what we’ve done…but because of who he is and what he has done for you in Jesus. It’s a change unlike any other and it’s all free and all for the sake of Christ who declares to you: I have rescued you. Redeemed you. Delivered you. And Justified you freely. I have forgiven you all your sins.

 

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.

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

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Milton, WA 98354
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