Saint Lucas Lutheran

Church, School, Pre-K and Child Care in Bay View, WI

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Home Church Sermons Transfiguration Sunday 2/14/10 Pastor Unnasch

Transfiguration Sunday 2/14/10 Pastor Unnasch

Based on Luke 9:28-36

Transfiguration Sunday
Feb 13-14, 2010

In the early 1900’s, a skeptical crowd gathered near Paris, France. They all had their eyes on one man, an American who claimed to have an amazing new invention. As he prepared to demonstrate this new invention, the American took his own sweet time in getting ready, so much so that the already skeptical crowd became even more skeptical, suspecting that the man was just another eccentric gasbag who hadn’t really invented anything. Hours passed. Finally, the man said he was ready. He walked over to his contraption, sat down in it, then announced to the members of the press, “Gentlemen, now I am going to fly.” And with that, Wilbur Wright revved up his flying machine and did exactly that. When he did, he overwhelmed every doubter and cynic and skeptic in that crowd. How had he done it? In essence, he’d told those people near Paris that there was something he wanted them to see. When they came, he showed them, and the rest is history. Something more important than man’s ability to fly is on the mind of Jesus Christ. What’s on His mind is you, and what He came to do for you. And He wants to confront you with this by showing you something He wants you to see. As we consider what 3 of Jesus’ disciples saw on top of a mountain, the theme for our sermon is this: THERE’S SOMETHING JESUS WANTS YOU TO SEE. The reality of life after death. The reality of who He is.
In the Word of God before us, Jesus’ 3-year ministry was beginning to wind down. His disciples had seen many miracles over these past 3 years, nearly all of these miracles having to do with helping someone in need. But now, 3 of His disciples were about to see a miracle that was different from the rest. Jesus and these 3 disciples went up onto a mountain. There Jesus began to pray. And as He did, Jesus’ very appearance began to change – but more on that later. Because while that was happening, suddenly there appeared with Jesus 2 men from OT history – Moses and Elijah. They were not wax models. They were not actors. They were not holographic images. They were the actual, real Moses and Elijah. How would you have reacted? Imagine 2 figures from American history, Washington and Lincoln, suddenly standing a few feet away from you, and you knew in your bones that these figures were the real thing. No doubt you would experience a mixture of feeling bewildered and stunned and thrilled all at once. Most important of all – Moses and Elijah were alive and well, appearing in glorious splendor, as Luke says. This is no small thing. Moses and Elijah had not lived on the earth for centuries; and yet, here they were. They had both temporarily come back from a real place that existed beyond this life. I am going to say that again: They had both temporarily come back from a real place that existed beyond this life. And by this appearance, the Lord drove home a reality that He wanted His disciples to see: The reality of Life after Death; the reality of an existence beyond the existence that we know now.

Have you ever stopped to consider that there are all kinds of realities that exist right along side of us? And yet, these are realities that you and I seldom think about. What do I mean? Here are some examples: The jet-setting, rich-and-famous world of an Oprah Winfrey is an abstraction to us, even though we know that Oprah Winfrey is a real person and that her home in Chicago is only a 2-hour drive away. On the other hand, the reality of living in a rescue shelter is also a distant abstraction to most of us, even though there’s one not far from this spot. The reality of what it’s like to be President of the United States is a distant abstraction to us, even though we know that the presidency exists. Likewise, the reality of spending years of your life in a state or federal prison is a distant abstraction to most of us, or the reality of facing a terminal illness is a distant abstraction to most of us, even though these realities exist around us and among us all the time. And unless we personally brush up against these other realities, we barely give them a second thought. But the fact remains that these realities exist. The same holds true for the reality of Life after Death. Whether you think about it or not, the moment you die you will begin to live in a place that’s just as real as this place, as real as you are. And when you get there, it will be this existence here that will seem abstract. It will be this existence here that will seem like a faraway, unreal thing. The question that remains is this: When you reach that next place beyond this one, where will you be? Will you live in a place where the Lord embraces you for all eternity? Or will you live in a place where your own apathy in this life has cut you off from the presence of God forever; a place of despair that Stephen King himself could not begin to describe?

And that’s the primary reason why Jesus came. You see, the vital importance of this reality – the reality of a Life after Death – the vital importance of this reality leads to another reality that the Lord wants you to see. And that is the reality of who he is.

On that mountain, the Jesus which the disciples had come to recognize began to change. Luke records that the appearance of His face changed; that His clothers became bright as a flash of lightning. The disciple Peter was so frightened and discombobulated about the whole thing that he began rambling on about building some shelters for Jesus and Moses and Elijah to stay in.

After that moment of comic relief, however, the reality of who Jesus is climaxed in what happened next. A cloud appeared and enveloped them. Then came The Voice. From the cloud came The Voice that said of Jesus, This is My Son (this is the Son of God) – This is My Son, whom I have chosen (whom God chose to be the Savior of the world) – This is My Son, whom I have chosen; listen to Him (listen to what He says to you). God Himself told those 3 disciples to listen to His Son, because this One called Jesus was about to change their destinies forever. You’ll recall that Moses and Elijah were not there simply to make an appearance in front of the 3 disciples. They came to discuss with Jesus the event that was now fast approaching; the one event that would change everything about humanity’s relationship with God.  Moses and Elijah were there to discuss the suffering and death of Jesus for the sins of the world; a death which would take place not by accident, not because of jealous religious leaders or ruthless Roman rulers. Rather, Luke is careful to record that this death was one that Jesus Himself was about to bring to fulfillment. On that mountain, then, was the reality of who Jesus is: the very Son of God, chosen to be the Savior from sin, bringing to fulfillment His own suffering and death and resurrection, all so that your sins and failures and rebellions and wrongs would all wash away.

This past Friday there was a tragedy at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver when an athlete crashed and died on the Luge Run. When his body went from 88 MPH to an abrupt stop, circumstances were such that the horrific energy from that collision had nowhere to go but into him, and as a result his life came to an end. Brothers and Sisters, in spiritual terms the same thing can happen to you and me. In this fallen world you are colliding with stress and trouble and heartache and heartbreak and grief all the time – this is something I don’t have to tell you because you’re already out there living it every week in real life. If your circumstances are such that your impact with these things has nowhere to go but into you, I promise you that it will eventually leave you crippled and crushed and spiritually lifeless.

And that’s where Jesus comes in. That’s where His family of forgiven sinners comes in. Come to Me, He says. Come to Me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. You see, when your Savior is there to absorb the trauma that comes from the daily collisions and crashes of life, and when you have fellow forgiven sinners who are there to work through those collisions and crashes with you, suddenly your life is not a lonely speed race anymore. Suddenly your life is one of peace and meaning; even joy, because your Savior has made it so. But even more important than this present life is the life to come, which is closer now for you than it ever has been. The Son of God who came into this world came for you. The Savior who died for the sins of the whole world died for you. And the Lord of life who rose from death now lives to live with you. How do we respond to Someone like this? Our Heavenly Father said it best: Listen to Him. Listen to Him. Embrace the reality of who He is. Embrace the forgiveness and the life that He has secured for you. If you are a guest or a visitor here and you have not had much opportunity in your life to listen to Him, now is the time to begin. For the rest of us – if you have had many opportunities in your life to listen to Him, now is the time to begin again.

There’s something Jesus wants you to see. The reality of Life after Death. The reality of who He is.

Amen.

 

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