Transfiguration Sunday 2022 Encouragement
Luke 9:28-36, 37-43a
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
A group of frogs was traveling through the woods when suddenly two of them fell into a deep pit. When the other frogs crowded around the pit and saw how deep it was, they told the two frogs that there was no way that they would get out of that deep pit.
However, the two frogs decide to ignore what the others were saying, and they proceeded to try to jump out of the pit.
Despite their efforts, the group of frogs at the top of the pit kept telling them that they should just give up. The pit was too deep, and frogs cannot jump that high.
Eventually, one of the frogs took heed to what they were saying and gave up. But the other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to give up. In their eyes the frog could never jump his way out of the pit.
The frog kept jumping. And after many failed attempts, the frog finally managed to jump high enough to get out of the pit. As he stood next to the other frogs, they said to him, “Did you not hear us tell you that you could never jump out of the pit?”
The frog had a puzzled look on his face, and then explained to them that he is deaf. When the frog finally comprehended what the group of frogs was trying to tell them, the frog said to them “I misunderstood what you were saying to me. I thought you were trying to encourage me to jump higher so I could get out of this pit.”
Encouragement. We all need encouragement. We need it when we are young. We need it when we are old. And we need it in the years between our infancy and our old age.
Now, you might be wondering what this has to do with the Gospel reading that we have this morning concerning Christ’s encounter with Elijah and Moses on the mountain top. Yes, we know we need encouragement, but what does this have to do with the voice that came down from heaven stating: “This is my Son, whom I have chosen – listen to Him.”
In the Nicene Creed we profess that Jesus came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary and became truly human. In other words, Jesus experienced the same joys and the same fears that we do.
God the Father knew that Jesus needed encouragement just like you and I need encouragement. And this is part of what is behind the transfiguration event.
As you know, Jesus had been busy in the villages and towns – scripture informs us that during His travels He had healed many people, and raised people from the dead, and calmed a storm, and fed thousands of people with five loaves of bread and two fish. But now Jesus would go to Jerusalem and take part in God’s Redeeming Activity.
For you see, just prior to our text today, Jesus had told His disciples that soon He would suffer at the hands of His enemies and be killed. Jesus foretold His death and resurrection with these words: “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
Even though Jesus was/is both God and man, as we confess in the Athanasian Creed, Jesus needed encouragement to face the trials that He was about to face.
Luke tells us that Elijah and Moses spent some time talking with Jesus about God’s plan to save humanity and how this would be carried out through His dying in Jerusalem. God’s Redeeming Activity was a huge undertaking, and Jesus needed every encouragement to keep His eyes on the goal.
In my mind I picture God putting His hand on Christ’s shoulder and gently saying to Him: “I support you. I know it is going to be tough, but this is your calling. You can do it.”
As we confess in the Nicene Creed: “For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. And on the third day He rose again in accordance with the scriptures.”
Christ’s time had come, and God wanted to let His beloved Son know that He was 100 % with Him as He journeyed to Jerusalem.
But the Transfiguration Event was not just to encourage Jesus. The dazzling brightness and the sight of Jesus talking with Elijah and Moses was also meant to encourage the disciples. As they too journeyed to Jerusalem with Jesus, the disciples needed to know who Jesus was/is and what was about to happen to Him.
The words of the heavenly voice “This is my Son, whom I have chosen – listen to Him” confirmed that Jesus was/is God’s Son, chosen for a special task.
Later, after Jesus had been arrested and crucified, and after they had reflected upon Christ’s life and especially the day Moses and Elijah talked to Him, what took place in Jerusalem would make sense and they could see that everything happened according to God’s detailed plan.
Even so, following Jesus is not an easy thing to do. It does not come naturally. We need encouragement. God know this. God knows this so much that one of the gifts of His Holy Spirit is the gift of encouragement.
Yes, our Heavenly Father encouraged Jesus and His disciples that day on the mountain top. And our Heavenly Father continues to encourage us today through the gift of His Holy Spirit.
As we prepare to embark upon our 40-day Lenten journey and walk with Jesus as He enters Jerusalem and begins His final marathon towards the Cross, let us accept with thanksgiving the encouragement God bestows upon us.
And let us not forget: “For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again in accordance with the scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end.”
Let us pray: Almighty God, whose Son was revealed in majesty before He suffered death upon the cross: Give us faith to perceive his glory, that being strengthened by his grace we may be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.