mountain_17218pTransfiguration 2018
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
February 11, 2018
2 Kings 2:1-12, 2 Corinthians 3:12-18; 4:1-6, Mark 9:2-9

Sermons online:
Text:                            pastorjud.org
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

What did you mean by that?  In the world of text messaging with no face to face interaction and with auto correct, there is a lot of misunderstanding.  Sometimes punctuation can make all the difference.  “The mother said the child is mad.”  Who is mad?  Depends on the commas.  It is frustrating to be misunderstood when you are speaking and it is annoying to not understand when someone else is speaking.

Often when we misunderstand we are tempted to just nod our head and smile as if we did comprehend.  When we were trained to work with campers at Bethesda camps for handicapped adults they instructed us not to just nod and smile, but to really work at understanding what your friend is trying to say.  But this takes a lot of effort and patience.

And then sometimes, when you are having a conversation and you understand what they say, you may not understand what they mean.  Someone tells you, “I saw a man on a hill with a telescope.”  There are at least five possible meanings of that statement.  There is so much miscommunication in the world.  This is what you said, but what did you mean?

At the end of our Gospel reading today we find Jesus along with Peter, James and John descending from the Mount of Transfiguration and Jesus is telling them not to tell anyone what they have seen, until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.  The very next verse shows that the disciples still don’t understand, Mark 9:10 (ESV) 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean.[1]  Questioning what this rising from the dead might mean.

You would think that the three disciples would be having a moment of clarity.  Peter, James and John have just seen the Glory of God shining forth from Jesus as He stands with Elijah and Moses.  God the Father spoke to them from an enveloping cloud.  Mark 9:7 (ESV) 7 …“This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”[2]

Now for those, like me, who are not that good at picking up subtleties, here’s a big clue to figuring things out.  God the Father says, “Listen to Jesus.”

Jesus has already been telling the disciples what is going to happen.  Six days prior to the Transfiguration, Mark 8:31-33 (ESV) 31 …[Jesus] began to teach them that 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. 32 And he said this plainly.”

Peter likely doesn’t even hear anything beyond Jesus being killed and Peter knows one thing for sure; that will not happen to Jesus while Peter is around.  “And Peter took [Jesus] aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”[3]

Six days later Peter sees firsthand the glory of God radiating out from Jesus with Elijah and Moses present, but Peter still doesn’t understand what this rising from the dead might mean.

  Now for those, like me, who are not that good at picking up subtleties, here’s a big clue to figuring things out.  God the Father says, “Listen to Jesus.”

Jesus tells the disciples again in Mark 9:31-32 (ESV) 31 …“The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. [4]

They were still questioning what this rising from the dead might mean.

In Mark 10:33-34 (ESV) Jesus tells them again, 33 …“See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”[5]  And in response to this, James and John ask Jesus to let them sit at His right and left in His glory.  They were still questioning what this rising from the dead might mean.

God the Father told them to listen to Jesus, and Jesus has been telling them what is going to happen, but the disciples do not understand.   And they are still questioning what this rising from the dead might mean.

Jesus will give more clues.  Mark 10:45 (ESV) 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” [6]

Jesus’ life will be given as a ransom.  And Jesus teaches about what will happen on the last day, Mark 13:27 (ESV) 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. [7]

Something big is happening here.  Jesus continues to teach as the cross looms near, Mark 14:24 (ESV) 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.[8]

Mark 14:61-62 (ESV) 61 … the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”[9]

What does rising from the dead mean?

The earliest manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark end with Mary Magdalen, Mary the mother of James and Salome at the tomb hearing that Jesus has risen from the dead Mark 16:8 (ESV) 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. [10]

They were still questioning what this rising from the dead might mean.

Here you are, 2,000 years later, with a longer perspective; able to see the big picture.  You see the Transfiguration of Jesus and you know what rising from the dead means.

Now the Transfiguration can inform.  You can learn that Jesus’ clothes shone brightly; Elijah and Moses were present; the three disciples were confused.  But the Transfiguration should not simply inform, but transform.  The Transfiguration transforms you because it shows you who Jesus is; and this changes everything.  You look through the transfiguration to see everything else that takes place.

The Transfiguration of Jesus is a filter through which you look at Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and also through which you look at your life, death and resurrection.

Seeing Jesus shining with the glory of God shows you who Jesus is.  Jesus is God in flesh, so as we look through the Transfiguration to the crucifixion we know that His suffering and death on the cross for you is not the end for Jesus.  Jesus will rise from the dead and ascend into heaven and Jesus will again shine with the glory of God.  Because He is God in flesh; He is God with us.

Look through the Transfiguration at your own life, death and resurrection.  You are a baptized child of God.  You have had God’s name watered onto you and you belong to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit as we saw with little Clara this morning.  You are fed with the Body and Blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins.

Life in this valley of the shadow of death is difficult.  This life is hard with disability, disease and dementia.  This life is hard with anger, hatred and violence.  There is a hopeless saying paraphrased, “Life is hard and then you die.”  And that is true, but looking through the Transfiguration you know that there is more.  This life is not all that there is.  The difficulties of life do not rob you of eternal joy.  The hard times in life are often opportunities to serve others; to live your ordinary life in an extraordinary way.  Death is not the end.  You will rise from the dead on the last day.  As a follower of Jesus you take up your cross daily to do the hard things in life; to live out life in your various vocations loving and serving others; loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you.  You carry the cross in life, but you carry that cross knowing you will rise from the dead and you too, clothed in a white robe, will shine with the glory of God on the last day.

No longer do you need to question what this rising from the dead means.  You know what rising from the dead means.  There is no misunderstanding.

There are people who say they believe in Jesus, but they don’t believe He rose from the dead.  They say Jesus was a great prophet; Jesus was a great teacher; but that He didn’t rise from the dead because that doesn’t make sense.  But if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then he is, in the words of C.S. Lewis, either a liar or a lunatic.  He told His disciples he would rise from the dead.  He told them over and over and over.  And then He did rise from the dead; and you know what that means.

It means Jesus is not a liar or a lunatic; He is Lord.

It means there is no misunderstanding.

It means Jesus is the Son of God.

It means that His sacrifice as a ransom for many is enough.

It means that Jesus’ word is true.

It means that His promise to you in your baptism is solid.

It means that you, who are in Christ, will rise from the dead on the last day.

It means you will shine like sun in a white robe in the heavenly city with Jesus, Elijah, Moses and all saints.

It means your sins are forgiven.

It means you have eternal life.

Amen.

[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[5]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[6]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[7]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[8]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[9]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[10]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

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