Saturday, February 21, 2009

Transfiguration Sunday

O Wondrous Type! O Vision Fair of Glory that the Church may Share,
Which Christ upon the mountain shows, Where Brighter than the sun He glows!

The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ was and is an historic occasion. The challenge for me, the preacher and you, the listener, is to answer the question “so what?” What does the fact that the Lord Jesus was transfigured mean to you living in the 21st Century? How is it relevant to your daily life? What is the Lord saying to us in this experience? Let us take a look.

1. The Lord’s glorious Transfiguration is an example to follow – go to a mountain of prayer. “Jesus went to a mountain where they were all alone.” Vs. 2 It was Jesus’ pattern to pray. It was Jesus’ pattern to get away from the crowd, away from the hustle of life, away from His plans and priorities. We too are busy people. There are commitments and deadlines, appointments and schedules that have to be kept. Yet, Jesus first priority was to His heavenly Father. He said to Mary and Joseph, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49) He said to his disciples, ‘But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) In the midst of our busy lives we need to turn off the computer, disengage the cell phone, walk away from our television series and spend both quality and quantity time with the Lord in prayer.

2. The Lord’s glorious Transfiguration gives us a sin to avoid. “Let us put up three shelters— one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (Vs.5) Peter may have desired to erect a new tent of meeting where God could again communicate with His people. (Exodus 29:42). Possibly he was thinking of the booths used at the Feast of Tabernacles. (Leviticus 23:42) In any case, he seemed eager to find fulfillment of the promised glory then. Yet, the promised glory will only come in the suffering that is necessary for salvation. When liturgy becomes cold formalism, when ritual shadows true piety, when ceremony crowds out true worship we are making idols of our traditions. We need to keep the main thing the main thing in our worship practice as St. Paul encouraged, “I determine to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)

3. The Lord’s glorious Transfiguration gives us a prayer to echo. “Peter said to Jesus, Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.” (Vs 5) Peter’s response to the Transfiguration was half right and half wrong. He was wrong in suggesting the building of booths, but he was altogether right when he said it was good for the disciples to be there. It is truly good for us to be in the assembly of God’s people like Moses and Elijah. It is good for us to hear God’s holy Word. There is nothing better than to see the glory of Jesus Christ. Worship at its best is found when we place our focus on Jesus Christ and His words and promises for us found in the Scriptures.

4. The Lord’s glorious Transfiguration gives us a purpose in our lives –the command to obey. “Listen to Him” (Vs.7) We come not just to a worship service but in service we worship Him. Worship, at its best calls for us to follow and obey the Savior. We listen and we obey. Christ has called us to discipleship. He calls us to obedience. Worship at its very best calls us to be new people, new people in Jesus Christ. He calls us to follow Him as He guides and as He leads.

We began this season of Epiphany this year with John reminding us, “He must increase, I must decrease.” (John 3:30) We conclude this season with the same instruction. We follow Him as He guides and directs us. Worship at its best is a challenge for each of us to heed the voice of the Savior.

When we return to this holy house in three days we will begin the pilgrimage of following Jesus to the cross and open tomb. As we follow Him down from the mountain of Transfiguration to the Mount of Olives, to a hill called Golgotha, to the open tomb may we experience Jesus in His glory hidden at that time but now fully revealed to us. As we do this, not only will we find worship at its best we will truly worship Him in spirit and in truth. In Jesus’ name.

O Father, with the eternal Son and Holy Spirit ever one,
We pray Thee; bring us by Thy grace to see thy glory face to face.

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