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Sermon February 11, 2024

Transfiguration of Our Lord Sunday Sermon 2024

Mark 9:29-39

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

This morning we celebrate Transfiguration Sunday.  Today we recall the day when Jesus took Peter, James, and John up a high mountain and was transfigured before their eyes with the light of His divine nature that revealed itself through the veil of His mortal flesh.

What a sight it must have been.  The glory of the Lord stood before them.  And as they watched His clothes became dazzling white, whiter that any bleach could possibly bleach them.  And there appeared with Jesus Elijah and Moses who were talking with Him.

Talk about a picture taking moment.  If this were to happen today, the text would probably include the news that as Jesus was transfigured before their eyes, the disciples took as many pictures as possible on their cell phones.

But thankfully the transfiguration event did not happen in our lifetime, because today we would focus our attention on the picture (s) taken of the event and not on the true meaning of this event.  And we would forget the real reason Jesus allowed Peter, James, and John to see His divine nature.

Did you notice that our text today begins with the words “Six days later.”  We read “Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves.  And He was transfigured before them.”  Mark 9:2

Six days later. These words are important.  These words beg us to ask the question “What happened six days prior to Christ’s transfiguration?”  Well, six days prior to this event, Jesus asked His disciples an important question. 

Jesus asked them “Who do people say that I am?”  And the disciples gave several answers.  “They said, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” Mark 8:28 And then Jesus asked another important question.  He asked: “But what about you?” “Who do you say I am?”  And Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.”  Then Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

Now, it is important to point out that the Jews at that time were waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue them from all their troubles.  They hoped that the Messiah would come and punish their enemies, establish God’s Kingdom in their midst, and inaugurate a new era of prosperity and peace. 

In short, the Jews believed that the Messiah would come and throw off the yoke of the Roman oppressors and reestablish the Kingdom of David.  But their understanding of the Messiah was wrong.  And because their understanding was wrong, Jesus had to correct their Messianic expectation. 

Yes, he had come to save His people.  And yes, he had come to defeat their enemies.  And yes, he had come to establish His Kingdom.  But He had come to save His people from all that separates humanity from God and each other.

And to accomplish His mission, He had to suffer, die, and rise again.  The hoped for Messiah had to take upon Himself the sin of the world; and this was not a message the disciples wanted to hear.  Instead, they wanted to hear about a triumphant and conquering Christ.  

Jesus had to correct their expectations.  And so, “He began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.”  Still Peter could not understand.  We are told that Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him.  Mark 8:31-32

Yes. This was a tough message to hear. That’s why, just six days after Jesus delivered this message to His disciples, He took three of them up a tall mountain and was transfigured before them.  And in that Transfiguration, the light of His true divine nature shined through the veil of His mortal flesh.

And Moses and Elijah joined Him.  And Luke tells us that Moses and Elijah spoke to Jesus about His death that would soon occur in Jerusalem to confirm what Jesus had spoken to His disciples concerning His suffering, death, burial, and resurrection.

And then, to climax it all; a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud shouted out “This is my Son, the beloved; listen to Him.”  Mark 9:7

Listen to Him the disciples were told.  Listen to Him when He tells you that He must suffer and die.  Listen to Him when He tells you that you must deny yourself and pick up your cross and follow Him.  Yes, listen to Him and you will find your salvation.

As Jesus Himself had told His disciples “‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”  Mark 8:34-35

And so, what are we to do when we are told something we do not want to hear?  We are told to listen to Him, the One who takes away the sin of the world.  Listen to Him, the One who brings us peace.  Listen to Him, the One God sent to fulfill His Redeeming Activity. 

Today we celebrate Transfiguration Sunday.  The day when Jesus was transfigured on a mountaintop and a voice from the cloud instructed Peter, James, and John (and us) to “Listen to Him.” 

We celebrate today because on the mountaintop the disciples were given a glimpse of God’s glory made manifest through His Son so we can face whatever the future has in store for us.   

Let us pray:  Almighty God, on the mountain you showed your glory in the transfiguration of your Son.  Give us the vision to see beyond the turmoil of this world so we can catch a glimpse of Christ’s glory and the future you have in store for us.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.