The Sunday of the Holy Transfiguration of our Lord
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
January 25, 2015
Central Passage
Matthew 17:1-9

(No audio file available.)


In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The Transfiguration of our Lord is a profoundly theological event. It shouldn’t be lost on us. We shouldn’t dismiss it as yet another miracle, a taken-for-granted miracle that testifies to who the Lord Jesus actually it, which is Light of Light, very God of very God. This man that led Peter, James, and John up the mountain is the God who created them and who called them into being. He also called the mountain into being. For by Him and through Him and for Him were all things made. And in Him all things hold together and are sustained (Colossians 1:17).

Then there on that mountain He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light. This was the divine majesty showing through the human form. There Moses and Elijah appeared also and spoke with Him about His exodus, His departure, which would be His death and resurrection when He passed through death and would come to life eternal. They were there to show that He is the one of whom they wrote and prophesied. But also to show that He is the God of the living and the dead, since Moses died but Elijah never died but was assumed into heaven.

Fantastic things, these things we are to believe. The assumption of Elijah; the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus; God in the flesh; death and resurrection. Fantastic, indeed. But what does it all mean? That’s the question we keep asking and others keep asking us. And why won’t the Lord Jesus manifest His glory to us in the same way that our faith would be strengthened?

The answer to these questions lie in the Voice that came from the cloud: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him.” Faith comes by hearing, hearing the word of Christ. And to hear the word of Christ, to hear Christ you must hear those whom He has sent as He says of His apostles, “The one who hears you, hears me.” And what the Lord Jesus says to Peter, James, and John is the same thing He says to you: Rise, and have no fear.

Therein lies the whole Gospel. Rise, and have no fear. The Lord Jesus, who is God of God, very God of very God, has exonerated you before the Divine Majesty. He was not consumed by the bright cloud and the Voice did not drive Him to His knees in fear. For it was the voice of His Father. And now His Father is our Father. Have no fear.

When He appeared to Moses in the burning bush the bush was not consumed. So when He appeared in human form, humanity is not consumed. To the contrary, from this one Man we gain life, not death. We gain freedom, not bondage. Humanity is not consumed but exalted, exalted to the right hand of God. Humanity is not abandoned but resurrected. Humanity is not lost to sin and shame but clothed with the righteousness of God Himself.

Now we are free to be human, to love without fear of death, for that is what love gets you in this life, death.

Consider the Lover of all men, the one who for His great love for His Father and for us and for all sinners, took on human form and became man to show us and be for us the love of God. Such love got Him death. So the love of the Christian gets the Christian death. For if there is no greater love than that one would lay down his life for his friend, then when you live the life of Christ among men, you are laying down your life for them. That will always get you death.

Perhaps it won’t end your mortal life, but perhaps it is death of a hobby or death of pursuit of money, or death of nice things. Does it have to be? Yes, it does. Why? Because this world is being saved for the Purifier’s fire and all things not made of silver and gold will burn away. Of course, I’m not speaking of the metals, silver and gold, but of the Christian who has been tested in the fires and is refined as silver is refined. And nothing is made of silver in this life except the new man created in the image of the eternal Son of God. For if the Son of God came through death so shall come through death those who are called the sons of God for His sake; those baptized into Him and who call out to Him.

Quite frankly, this should make you want to be here and to receive the Sacrament of our Lord all the more. Why? Because here that same Man who was transfigured before them is not before you to confirm in you the promises of God. For all God’s promises find their “yes” in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20).

God promises forgiveness: that is in Christ.

God promises a new heavens and a new earth: that is in Christ.

God promises life after death, the resurrection: that is in Christ who is Himself the resurrection.

All of God’s promises find their “yes” in Christ Jesus. And this same Lord Jesus Christ presents Himself to you in this holy gathering where Moses and Elijah still speak of His exodus, His death and resurrection, and where Peter, James, and John still give witness to His Divine Majesty, and where the Father’s command is fulfilled and you listen to the beloved Son of the Father.

This is how we can say, and say with confidence, that our life flows from this most holy service, for this is the Lord’s service to us, just as His Transfiguration was not for Him but for Peter, James, and John, and for us also, so that we would know the glories of Him who speaks to us, to whom we are to listen; who makes His voice heard in all the earth, the only Son from heaven, Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God.

+ In Nomine Iesu +