“Glory in Christ”

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Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sermon Manuscript:


A Revelation of Glory

Transfiguration – a change in form or appearance: metamorphosis; an exalting, glorifying, or spiritual change. Today we recall the transfiguration of Jesus, His change in appearance through which God revealed His glory on the mountaintop.

We hear today, the story of how Jesus, “led {His disciples, Peter, James, and John} up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” (Matt. 17:1-2)

– Certainly, an amazing, awe-inspiring, and memorable event for those three disciples. Jesus is changed before their very eyes, and they behold the shining splendor of the glory of God. Can you imagine being privileged to see such a sight? But wait, it gets even better.

Moses and Elijah, too, appear on the mountain. They are the physical embodiment of the Law and the Prophets – two of the three major sections of the Hebrew Bible, which we call the Old Testament. And Jesus is just standing there with them, talking to them, in all His glory, as if it were perfectly normal to be conversing with the dead.

But clearly, Moses and Elijah are not dead. In some form, they are very much alive and real, as alive and real as Jesus standing in their midst in all His splendor. And their presence affirms that Jesus has fulfilled all Scripture.

Jesus is the fulfillment of both the Law of Moses and the Prophecy of Elijah. Jesus is it! He is everything! He is the Holy One of God for whom the people of Israel had been waiting. – The One for whom all the world still waits.

The Response to Glory

Peter responds to this amazing manifestation of God’s glory, just as any of us would. He says, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (Matt. 17:4)

Right you are, Peter. It is good to be in the Lord’s presence, standing in the light of His glory, up on the mountain and as close to God as humanly possible. I mean, is there any place else he or we would rather be?

You know, how when you go away on a trip or vacation and can truly can get away from all the worry and stress of everyday life?  You lose yourself in the peace and tranquility of another place, another pace. You lay down the weight of your burdens and they simply fade away.

And there, you find rest and renewal for your body, mind, and soul. Yes, it is good to be in a place like that. It would be great to STAY in a place like that. But alas; the vacation ends, and we must come down the mountain to return to our everyday lives.

It’s the same situation for Peter and James and John. As answer to Peter’s suggestion that they just stay and set up camp permanently there on the mountain, resting in God’s glory, “behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the clouds said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’”

The Response to Revelation

And immediately the disciples are overcome with awe and fear. They are shaken to their core. God has spoken – over them, in their presence! And He has revealed to them that Jesus is His Son, the Son of God, the Father.

The disciples’ faith in Jesus is confirmed. They have never been more certain, and probably never more afraid of anything in their entire lives. It is one thing to behold the splendor of God’s glory, but it’s another thing altogether to hear God speak to you from the midst of a cloud.

We get small glimpses of God’s glory in our own lives. We witness moments of holy awe amid the chaos of life. Some of us have experienced God’s healing presence; felt the power of His forgiveness and love; or known His peace that passes understanding in the darkest and most dreadful of times.

We might like to dwell in those moments of holy awe, to remain whole and wholly at peace, surrounded by the glory and inexpressible joy of being in the presence of God. But we cannot. God speaks. He moves. Life must go on. Jesus is our Lord, the Son of God, and we must listen to Him.

The Call to Listen & Follow

The disciples cannot stay on the mountain. They must leave their glimpse of glory behind and make their way back down to the reality that lays before them.

Jesus is headed to Jerusalem, to suffer, die, and rise, and He does not walk this path alone. He calls Peter, James, and John to come with Him, to follow Him, back down to the real world, back into the trenches of spiritual warfare amid the ordinary trials and tribulations of this life.

Jesus calls His disciples to come down the mountain, to follow Him, to take up their own crosses, to suffer, and yes, even to die for Him; so that in Him, they too, will rise and live. – Just like Moses and Elijah, and all the prophets; like Abraham, and Isaac, and the whole great cloud of witnesses, who in faith, had gone on before them.

This too, is Christ’s call upon our lives. Peter, James, John; Bartholomew, Thaddeus, Thomas; Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Joanna; Pastor Paulette and each and every one of us gathered here; and the whole Church of Christ throughout the whole world. In Christ, we are changed. We are called.

The Call to Christ in Baptism

God, the Father, spoke over Jesus. At His Baptism, “…the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” (Matt. 3:6)

In our Baptism, so too, God, the Father, spoke over us. He said, “You are my beloved child. In Christ, I claim you, and through Christ, with you, I am pleased.” He says each and every day, “You are mine. You are always mine. I love you. I forgive you. I am with you and will be with you forever…”

“I will be with you on the mountain. I will be with you in the valley. I will lead you throughout this life, and I will bring you at last into joys of eternal life. Where finally, with all the saints in light, you will dwell in the radiant splendor of Majestic Glory, in my presence forever.”

In Christ, by our Baptism into Christ – into His death and resurrection – all these promises are ours. In Christ, through His death and resurrection, God was pleased to show us the fullness of His glory.

Like Peter, James, and John, sometimes we catch glimpses of God’s glory in this life, moments of holy peace and contentment that are not of this world, but we cannot stay there. Our rest in the glory of God is only temporary, a welcome pause in our pilgrimage to the cross.

So Too, We Rise

We must heed our Father’s advice, and listen to Jesus. So, we follow Him down off the mountain and wherever He leads. But we do so, in faith, in confidence and filled with hope.

For our God is with us. The full manifestation and revelation, the epiphany of the glory of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is with us, and He is for us.

For us, He gave His life. And for us He rose again. And so, He speaks His Word to us today and every day, on the mountain tops AND in the valleys. “Rise, and have no fear.”

Thanks be to God! Amen.