An Experience with God
The Transfiguration was Jesus’ experience with God. Not the first. Not the last. But it was an experience so intense that the glory of God transfigured Him into the brightness of the sun. In the Epistle lesson, Peter gives the testimony of the disciples concerning the reality of that experience. Moses had a similar experience with God on Mt. Sinai. But it was related to the Law, not the gospel of the Son. In the Psalm for the day, there is reference to God’s voice; “This is my beloved son.”
The Transfiguration marks the apex of the Epiphany season. Through the season, we have witnessed the glory of God manifested in Jesus. At the Transfiguration God’s full glory is reflected in Jesus. Jesus’ glory is shown by the brightness of His physical appearance, the appearance of Moses and Elijah and the presence of the Father evidenced by cloud and voice. Since Jesus has come to the full possession of God’s glory, he is prepared to fulfill his mission as the Messiah by going to Jerusalem to the cross. Because of this, the Transfiguration is a preparation for our Lenten pilgrimage to suffer and died with Jesus.
The importance of this Transfiguration experience led the church the make the Transfiguration a festival of the church. The liturgical color changes to white to express the joy and celebration of the event.
Collects for the season of Epiphany: Lord God, on this day you revealed your Son to the nations by the leading of a star. Lead us now by faith to know your presence in our lives and bring us at last to the full vision of your glory.
Father, You revealed Your Son to the nations by the guidance of a star. Lead us to Your glory in heaven by the light of faith. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever.
Father, You make known the salvation of humankind at the birth of Your Son. Make us strong in faith and bring us to the glory You promise. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Collects for Transfiguration: O God, in the glorious transfiguration of Your beloved Son You confirmed the mysteries of the faith by the testimony of Moses and Elijah. In the voice that came from the bright cloud, You wonderfully foreshowed our adoption by grace. Mercifully make us co-heirs with the King in His glory and bring us to the fullness of our inheritance in heave; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Monday, 24 February 2014—Psalm99:1-5; antiphon, Psalm99:5— The Psalm for the Introit is a hymn celebrating the Lord as the great and holy King in Zion. Seven times the psalmist will speak of the Lord. We are called to worship our Lord as the antiphon suggests, “Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his footstool; he is holy.” At the mountain of the Transfiguration, the disciples see the Lord Jesus in all of His holiness, glory and splendor.
Tuesday, 25 February 2014—Psalm 2:6-12; antiphon v.6 — In Christ you are the Lord’s. To rebel against the Lord’s Anointed is also to revel against the One who anointed him. The psalm refers to the Davidic king, and is ultimately fulfilled in Christ. The English word ‘Messiah” comes from the Hebrew word for “anointed one” and the English word, “Christ” from the Greek word for “anointed one.” On the mountain of Transfiguration Moses and Elijah will speak to the Lord’s anointed one and His glory at the cross and empty tomb.
Wednesday, 26 February 2014—Exodus 24:8-18—God appears to Moses on Mt. Sinai. It was an experience with God revealing His glory. What is the significance of the mountain? A mountain is generally the site of a religious experience. It was, at least, for Moses, Elijah, Abraham and Jesus. There is symbolism to a mountain. It is high. Above the valley of the mundane. It is s solitary place away from people. It is a silent site where God’s voice can be heard without the distractions and confusion of human voices. A mountain also speaks of stability, permanence and strength.
Thursday, 27 February 2014—2 Peter 1:16-21—The disciples witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration. Peter will testify to the reality of Jesus’ experience with God. People may ask, is the Transfiguration a legend of the early church or an historical reality? The account in 2 Peter assures us that it can be accepted as fact. The witness of eyewitnesses. The problem lies in this, do we believe this testimony? Do we trust in Peter’s words? The authority of the church today is the authority of the Apostles. Do we trust the witness of the Apostles? Were you there at the Transfiguration as you were at the cross?
Peter reminds us that the Transfiguration needs to be an historical event but also an experience of faith today for the believer.
Friday, 28 February 2014—Matthew 17:1-9— Jesus on the mountain is transfigured before three of His disciples. This experience with God is transforming. Before the cross, Resurrection and Ascension, we get a glimpse of the inner, true nature of the Son of God, Until this time, we saw God’s glory manifested in Jesus as the wise Men saw in Him a king, In John the Baptist’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah, and in the miracles of Jesus. Now we see directly the divine nature of Jesus. This brings us to the uniqueness of Jesus _they saw no one but Jesus only.” In the light of Jesus’ being the only Son of God, then, we must confront the pluralism of our day. In many circles Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius are all “sons of God.” The voice from heaven makes Jesus unique. He is God’s one and only Son.
In the Transfiguration, many questions go unanswered. How could the holy presence of God come into a human frame? How do you explain the exceeding brightness of the physical Jesus? How could Moses and Elijah appear in bodily form? Does God come in a cloud and does god have a real voice? Perhaps our only reaction and answer is worship. Like Peter, we do not know what to say. Like the disciples, we are overcome with awe and adoration. Jesus and His three disciples go up to pray and worship. The experience results in the worship of Christ.
Saturday, 1 March2014—Luke 9:28-36; John 1:14– Tomorrow’s hymn of the week is LSB #413 “O Wondrous Type! O Vision Fair” Through this season of Epiphany, we have witnessed the glory of God manifested in Jesus, but today God’s full glory is reflected in Jesus. Jesus’ glory is shown by the brightness of His physical appearance, the appearance of Moses and Elijah, and the presence of the Father evidenced by a cloud and a voice.
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series A by John Brokhoff © 1980 CSS Publishing
For All the Saints A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol. II © 1995 by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau,Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS