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Transfiguration 2021
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
Feb. 14, 2021
Exodus 34:29-35, 2 Corinthians 3:12-18; 4:1-6, Mark 9:2-9

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            Who is Jesus?  Jesus identity and purpose is unveiled for us in the Bible. 

The New Testament unveiling begins when the Angel Gabriel announces to Mary Luke 1:30-33 (ESV) 30 … “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”[1]

At Christmas it continues.  Angels announce to shepherds Luke 2:11-12 (ESV) 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”[2]

The mysterious magi from the East follow the star to worship the one born King of the Jews as Jesus identity is further clarified. 

At Jesus’ baptism the heavens are torn open, the Holy Spirit descends like a dove and the voice of God the Father speaks, Mark 1:11 (ESV) 11 … “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”[3]

            Throughout the Epiphany season we see Jesus slowly pulling back the veil to show more and more of who He really is.  He heals, He drives out unclean spirits, He preaches, He teaches, He takes authority over the wind and the sea.  He raises a girl from the dead.  He feeds thousands with barely enough food for a few people.  Jesus is revealing who He is but most of the people, even His disciples, do not fully understand what Jesus has come to do – despite Jesus telling them what will happen. 

Mark 8:31-32 (ESV) 31 And [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. …[4]

            Jesus tells the disciples what is going to happen, but they don’t like what they are hearing and Peter rebukes Jesus — and so Jesus rebukes Peter. After six days Jesus takes Peter, James and John up on a mountain and is transfigured before them.  Jesus shines with the unveiled glory of God.  Moses and Elijah are present with Jesus to show that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Law and Prophets.  A cloud envelopes them and the voice of God the Father speaks, Mark 9:7 (ESV) 7 …“This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”[5] Jesus is the Son of God.  Jesus is God in flesh.  There on the mount of transfiguration the veil is further pulled back to reveal who Jesus is.  But still the disciples struggle.  Soon after the Transfiguration shows the glory of God in Jesus, the disciples are arguing about which of them is the greatest. 

            The people, and the disciples, have a veil over their hearts so they do not see the glory of God in Jesus.  As we heard in the Old Testament lesson today from Exodus, when Moses’ face glows after speaking with God, the people are afraid and Moses veils his face.  What are the people afraid of?  They are afraid of the glory of God because they have the Law of God and they know they don’t keep it.  They cannot bear the glory of God because God is holy and they are not. 

            At Jesus time, and still today, there are many who still have veils over their hearts.  They do not believe the Good News of forgiveness in Jesus, they only see the law of God and know that they cannot keep it.  2 Corinthians 4:4 (ESV) 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.[6]  The devil keeps them veiled so they do not understand who Jesus really is and what He has done for them. 

And so, instead of finding joy in Jesus’ forgiveness; instead of believing God’s Law and God’s Gospel they reject Jesus in many ways.  Some just want nothing to do with God because they cannot be good enough and so they live as if there is no God.  Some repeat Satan’s words in the Garden of Eden like a mantra, “Did God really say? Did God really say?” as they reimagine God in their own image and rewrite the Law of God to fit their own understandings.  They just cross out the parts of the Bible they don’t like so that they think they are following God’s law.  They continue to rewrite God’s commands to conform to the ever changing ethics of the world. Others double down on the Law and preach and teach about how you can work your way to heaven by doing the right things.  Some turn Christianity into a self-help program and preach that you can be successful if you just try harder; if you just do better.  Some start to believe that any way to God is a good way and it does not matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.  For so many the Gospel remains veiled and they remain outside salvation. 

            At the Transfiguration, Jesus’ true identity and purpose is further unveiled, but the full unveiling does not come until Jesus has gone to Jerusalem to be crucified.  That dark Friday it seems that the Old Testament veil is strengthened and yet, at the moment of Jesus’ death, the curtain in the Temple is torn in two from top to bottom.  The veil is lifted.  The truth about Jesus is revealed.  This becomes clear on that Sunday morning as Jesus rises from the dead and appears to the women at the tomb, to the 12 disciples, and to hundreds of others.  The truth is completely unveiled.  Jesus Christ is Lord.  He is God incarnate.  Christ has died for the sins of the world and death could not hold Him. Christ is Risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia! 

            You have the unveiled truth of Jesus.  You know that Jesus died for you and forgives you all your sins.  You know that Jesus has risen from the dead and promises to raise you from the dead on the Last Day.  You know that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him.  2 Corinthians 3:12 (ESV) 12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold,[7] Like St. Paul we are under divine obligation to speak the truth of God’s saving promises in Jesus boldly and clearly.

            We proclaim God’s Law and Gospel amidst a permissive, relativistic society that calls good evil and evil good.  We call sin, sin.  We call evil, evil.  We call good, good.  We confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean and into this world of sin we boldly proclaim that Jesus is the antidote to God’s judgement on sin.

            We boldly teach that Christianity is the only saving faith.  There are many religions; there is only one saving faith. There is no other way. 

            We teach that you are not saved by this politician or that politician.  The government cannot save you.  You are not saved by following a strict diet and exercise plan.  You are not saved by mystical experiences.  You are not saved by lessening the severity of God’s law.  You are not saved by pretending that you are good enough. 

You are saved by Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross taking the punishment for your sin.  You are saved by baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  You are saved by Jesus’ words, “I forgive you all your sins.”  You are saved by Jesus’ Body and Blood given and shed for you.

We proclaim God’s Law and Gospel amidst a permissive, relativistic society that calls good evil and evil good.  We call sin, sin.  We call evil, evil.  We call good, good.  We confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean and into this world of sin we boldly proclaim that Jesus is the antidote to God’s judgement on sin.

            The Devil, the world and your own sinful flesh desperately want you to believe that you can be saved by something other than Jesus; something else…anything else — something that you can do — but it is a lie.  Ephesians 2:8 (ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,[8].  We boldly proclaim this truth in a world where people’s minds are hardened and their hearts are veiled. 

            Boldly teaching the truth of God’s Word will not make your life easier. Being a member of a church that believes, teaches and confesses that the Bible is true can get you cancelled.  Cancelled from your job, from friends, from opportunities.  When people find out you do not celebrate the latest sexual innovation you will be viewed as a hateful bigot and be rejected by those in synch with the cultural elite. When people find out you believe Jesus is the only way to heaven you will be called intolerant and rabidly exclusive even as you believe, teach and confess that Jesus died for all people and the gift of forgiveness and eternal life is offered to everyone.

            On this the 14th day of February we remember St. Valentine whose history is admittedly murky.  It is thought that he was a priest who was beheaded around 270 AD for performing Christian marriages in opposition to the orders of Roman Emperor Claudius II.  Valentine did what God commanded instead of what the emperor commanded and it cost him his head.  There have been so many Christian over the centuries that have lost their lives because they taught the truth about Jesus.  Boldly teaching the truth about Jesus is what we are called to do. It brings the saving Word of God to the world.  But it can get you rejected, cancelled, abused and even killed. 

            Despite the danger, we are called by God to continue to proclaim the unveiled truth. Do not lose heart.  As Peter, James and John saw in the radiance on the Mount of Transfiguration, and even more clearly at Calvary and at the empty tomb and the upper room.  Jesus is God in flesh.  Jesus did die for your sins.  Jesus did rise from the dead.  Jesus died and rose for you.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

            Amen. 


[1]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[8]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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