The Transfiguration of Our Lord
Text: Matthew 17:1-9
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is a reason that the television is filled with get rich quick schemes, no-money-down real estate offers, and preachers who promise riches if you'll just buy this book or say that prayer. It's the same reason that the lottery and game shows which promise millions to the winner are so popular - our dream is to become rich and well off without any work or worries. And it's not just our dream. Look at St. Peter.
When Peter gets up the mountain of transfiguration and sees the glory of God shine through the humanity of Jesus, Peter is ready to be done. This is what Peter signed up for: glory and majesty. Peter wants to pitch his tent right there and hang out with Jesus and Moses and Elijah. What Peter says to Jesus here is only slightly better than what he had said to him just six days before. Then, when Jesus had said that he was heading toward Jerusalem to be handed over to the chief priest and elders of the people to suffer, die, and rise again on the third day, Peter rebuked his Lord saying, “This shall never happen to you!” Here, on the mountain of transfiguration Peter says, “It it good for us to be here, Lord. Let's call it quits right now. This is what we came for. No need to head on down to Jerusalem. No need to suffer and die. If you wish, we can just stay right here.”
But even before he is done speaking a loving voice comes from heaven to call him to repentance: “Quiet, Peter. This is my beloved Son: listen to him.”
As it was for Peter, so it is for you. Who wants hardship? Who wants to do the heavy lifting of slogging out the difficulties of the Christian life? Don't you yearn for a quick fix to all your problems? Haven't you day dreamed about how much better you life would be if just this or that were different? Have you never coveted the blessings that others have and cursed God for your hardships?
Well, this is our repent for today. This Jesus is God's beloved Son, listen to him. Listen to Jesus for he brings you Words of life. Have you been done wrong? Is your life harder than it should be? Do you have a broken heart, an empty bank account, or a lousy family? These are all crosses to bear. They are the results of life in a fallen world. The world is broken all around us, because we and all men born according to nature are broken within us.
So thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ: for Jesus came to grant healing and rest and comfort and glory to a broken world. Jesus came to right the wrongs, ease the hardships, mend the brokenhearted, fill up the empty, and bring peace where there is discord. But this he could not do by pitching a tent on a mountain top and playing Bunko with Moses and Elijah. No, to bring this healing to all the world's brokenness, Jesus, the Sinless One, had to be broken. To grant health and life, Jesus, the Living One, had to die.
It is in the cross of Christ that salvation is earned for the world. This is what Moses and Elijah speak to Jesus about. For this is the day that Moses and Elijah had been looking forward to, the day they preached about: the coming of God in the flesh. The coming of the Lamb of God who would die for the sins of the world. Moses and Elijah, these representatives of the Law and Prophets, these two men have nothing to speak about but Christ's work of salvation on the cross. For that is their glory. They shine with a reflected light: their humanity is glorified because God has become Human. Moses the murderer and Elijah the despondent doubter stand in the kingdom of God because the Beloved Son of the Father was about to stand in their place on the cross.
So listen to Jesus. He loves you to the end of love. Jesus loves you with himself. Jesus bore your iniquities for you. By Jesus' stripes you are healed. Because of Jesus you are accepted – a beloved child of the only real Father that there is. A future life and resurrection are promised to you.
But for now, like Peter, you must not yet pitch your tent with Moses and Elijah. With Peter you must learn from the only-begotten Son to walk the Way of the Cross. For listen to Jesus, who says, "He who wishes to be my disciple must take up his cross and follow me". Jesus had to go to Jerusalem and climb up one more mountain before he could enter into that glory, a glimpse of which Peter saw on the Mountain of Transfiguration. For Jesus had to fulfill Moses and Elijah and all the Law and Prophets. Jesus had to climb Mount Moriah, where the Lord provides a lamb for the slaughter so that the sons of Abraham might go free. And so with Peter, you walk through the valley of the shadow of death. You are surrounded by hardship and crosses.
But do not despair and do not fear, no matter the cross that you are bearing. For like Peter, look up and see only Jesus. Jesus is enough. Even Moses and Elijah pale in his presence. And this glorious Son of God who gave himself for you will not leave you nor forsake you. He bore your burdens on the cross: so if you are heavy laden, come to him and he will give you rest. For his yoke is now easy and his burden light: for he had borne the heavy part, he has been weighted down with the sins of the world so that your way of the cross might be walkable. He has seen to it that you will be sustained along the way. He has sent his Spirit into your hearts in Holy Baptism. He speaks his Words of acceptance and love to you again and again in Holy Absolution. He strengthens your faith and gives you the power to bear whatever cross you have by filling you up with the fruits of his cross: his most holy Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Altar.
So let us learn Peter's lesson. Look up and see Jesus only. Listen to Jesus. The Words he speaks to you are life. In Baptism Jesus says, “You are mine.” In Absolution Jesus says, “You are loved.” And in the Sacrament of the Altar Jesus says, “I am yours.” What more could we ask for...In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.