Immanuel Lutheran Church

Sermon

Transfiguration

Peter's Word Picture of Testimony 

2 Peter 1:16-21

March 2, 2014

Most of you know we just returned from vacation in a tropical place. While on the beach, I noticed people taking pictures with cameras and phones. Some were posed, some impromptu. Why all the pictures? They wanted to remember those happy, and for many of us, warm moments. Kyla was baptized earlier. Her family and friends will be taking pictures. Why? They want to remember this special day.

Since the beginning of time, people have recorded important moments. Sometimes they were cave paintings or murals or tapestries. Whatever the medium, they left a record for us. In today's epistle Peter tells us about the Transfiguration. Instead of a painting, he leaves his record with word pictures. 

2 Peter 1:16-21. For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory,"This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased" and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

19So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

The Gospel reading tells us that Peter is both awestruck and amazed. In typical fashion, he blurts out the first thing on his mind. Wow! What a moment. We need to make this last as long as possible. Let's build three shelters. You guys can share all those words of wisdom and we'll sit here and soak it all in.

Before he can get his sentence finished, the cloud of the Presence envelopes all of them. The three disciples are rightly terrified. They try to bury themselves like ostriches in the ground. Suddenly, the voice of the Father speaks. He affirms His Son. Peter tells us this is his eye-witness account. It's not a story or cleverly fabricated news release. This is his testimony of what he both saw and heard.

The Father speaks for the sake of Jesus. The Father's affirmation gives the Son both strength and comfort to face His final journey to Jerusalem and the cross. This transfiguration was a sign and token of the glory that Jesus would once again experience with the Father after his passion and death on the cross.

The voice of the Father also spoke to the three disciples. This is important. Like Jesus, they must leave the glory of this moment and come down from the mountain top. They, too, will follow Jesus to His passion and death. They will also see and experience His great humiliation. These men had pinned all their Messianic hopes on Jesus. Although they had traveled with Him for three years, they were still held captive by the popular cultural idea that the Messiah was supposed to be a political figure. Over the course of time, most of the Jewish people had come to look for a Messiah who would bring them national deliverance from Rome along with a restoration of the glorious kingdom of David and Solomon.

The disciples still harbored some of these dreams. Their grand imaginations of this glory would be shattered when they saw Jesus arrested, tortured and crucified. His death would take them into the very pits of devastation and disappointment. Of course, they would be revived after they saw the resurrected Lord. Yet, in the time of their despair, these words of the Father would point them to the joy of the foretaste of the glory to come. Don't listen to cultural visionaries----listen to the Son! 

When the Father speaks out of the cloud, He doesn't admonish the disciples to remember and cherish this moment always. No, He directs them to Jesus. "This is My beloved Son . . . listen to Him!" Here's the key. What are we to take away from this lesson? Listen to Jesus! We don't have a videotape of the glory of the Transfiguration but we do have the testimony recorded for us in the Word.

Paul reminds us that "Faith comes by hearing," not by sight. Although we live in a world filled with pictures, we are told to listen to Jesus. Why is this important to understand? You see something only for the moment. In the next moment what you saw or thought you saw is gone. As we look back on what we've seen, there are times when we wonder if it was real or imagined. The danger for the disciples is that they may not have remembered this exactly as the Lord intended. How were they to explain this to the others who were not on the mountain with them? Why should the others believe this fantastic story?

We are to listen to Jesus. The Son speaks the words of the Father to the world. The Holy Spirit brings the words of Jesus to us in their fullness. The Holy Spirit works through the word to bring us to faith. What the three disciples witnessed on that mountain was not videotaped for all posterity. Unlike old movies now being sold on DVD's, we cannot see what happened on the mountain of transfiguration again and again. There is no visual record but there is an oral record. The story has been told from one generation to the next. Only the Holy Spirit can bring the words of the Bible to life in our hearts.

Not everyone wants to look at your vacation pictures. They may not be interested in your stories. That doesn't mean your pictures are any less important to you. People may not want to hear the words of the Gospel. We share them anyway because the word of God is our source of light and life. We are to speak only what the word speaks. We are neither to add nor subtract from the word. It's a challenge to speak the word when culture wants nothing to do with it. Nevertheless, we listen to the Son. When we do, his words become our words And His words are eternal life.

Like the disciples we come down from the mountain top to live in the real world. This why the Lord comes to comfort and strengthen us today in the Word and in the supper. He comes to assure us of our forgiveness and restoration as beloved children to their Father. He comes to live our faith boldly in a world going nuts. In the mean time we hold to the promise that we will behold Him in His glory in life eternal. Thanks be to our Transfigured and Risen Lord now and forever. Amen.


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