The Sunday of the Transfiguration of our Lord
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
February 5, 2017
Central Passage
Matthew 17:1-9

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

After six days Jesus took with Him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them 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.

Isn’t that just like the Lord; to do it in a way that makes His disciples move. He never makes it easy on His disciples. Why not be transfigured before them where they were? Why lead them up the high mountain? If it was privacy He was after, why not wait until night fall? Or why not simply blind the eyes of everyone else around them as He so often blinded the eyes of many men when He didn’t want them to see what He was up to; as He did when His army of angles attacked the Midians in the days of Gideon?

But no, the Lord made them follow Him up the high mountain. Mt. Tabor, according to tradition. Mt. Tabor is a steep slope that is not an easy climb. Today it is, since there’s a path that leads to the top, but in Jesus’ day there was no path. Just a mountain to climb.

So up they went. Up over rocks and boulders and loose gravel. Up the Lord went. He didn’t float up the mountain a few inches off the ground. He climbed. He led His disciples. They climbed. Up they went.

At the top He was transfigured before them.

There He showed them that He is the Lord of the living and the dead since both Moses who died and Elijah who lived worshiped Him. The Father honored the Son with the glory He had since the beginning by declaring Him to be His beloved Son with whom He is well pleased, and that it is to Him, to this Man, that the disciples were to listen. He showed them that He is the Light that went out in the darkness as His face shone from within, a light brighter than the sun. His clothes because pure white, showing them that He is the Righteous One who is pure and undefiled.

Then it all went away. The brightness. The cloud. The Voice from heaven. Moses and Elijah. All gone. Only Jesus remained with His disciples. And down the mountain they went with only the words of Jesus, those blessed words of power and hope and tranquility: Do not be afraid.

But lest they be side tracked and begin to think that they had experienced the fullness of God’s love and being, the Lord forbids them to speak of this most holy event until after He is raised from the dead. This immediately ties the Transfiguration of Jesus with His resurrection. It was a foreshadow of what is to come once He is risen and ascended and once He brings with Him all His disciples, His followers. He will lead them up on high carrying a host of captives on the train of His robe.

So that’s what the Transfiguration is. It is a glimpse of the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. It’s the end-goal, as it were. When the Transfiguration is fulfilled, when the Son of Man comes in the clouds of heaven as He ascended, then Peter’s misplaced words will find there place: Lord, it is good for us to be here.

But don’t get there too quick. Don’t think that your mountain top experience is where you’re supposed to be. As if you’re not also supposed to be in the muck and mire, caring for wounded sinners and praying with and for those whose live with unbelievable sin and filth.

In truth, we are simply following our Lord up the mountain. Up our Lord goes with us as He promised, “Lo, I will be with you always, even unto the end of the age.” Up He goes the rough and steep mountain, leading the way. He is not floating over your live a few inches off the ground, unaffected by what affects you. So He said to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, as Saul was murdering and persecuting the Lord’s Christians, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” The Lord suffers with you and you with Him.

Up you go; up the mountain. Following your Lord who is leading you. Leading you to that place where it is good to be.

But life isn’t the image of life. Platitudes and imagery and stories put the scope of life into focus; they put words to the grandness of life. But they are not life. Life is going home in a few minutes to a world of chaos and letdowns and sin. Life is remembering what you’ve done and what you’ve failed to do. Life is dealing with hell and yearning for heaven. The imagery is that life is Mt. Tabor, steep and hard to climb. But the Lord is leading you. And He is not leading you in imagery. He is leading you by His divine gathering. He is leading you by giving you His body and blood to eat and to drink. He is leading you by giving you the Holy Absolution as often as you want to receive it.

Because as much as the imagery of going up the mountain puts life into perspective as we struggle against sin and shame, so does the Lord coming down the mountain with His disciples put life into perspective as we hear His precious and blessed words: Do not be afraid.

The Lord is risen from the dead. It is good to be here because Jesus is here. And wherever Jesus is there heaven is since He brings heaven with Him. Wherever Jesus is there too are Moses and Elijah and all the Prophets. There, too, is Peter, James, and John and all the other apostles. There, too, are the Fathers and the Christian saints down through the ages, even our brothers and sisters who are asleep or living. Since Jesus is with all His saints, living and dead, so then are we with all the saints since we are with Jesus. Where Jesus is there, too, is His army of angels; those same angels who blinded the Midians for Gideon and announced the Nativity to the shepherds and who are now assigned to guard and keep the Lord’s little ones.

With angels and archangels and all the company of heaven: it is good, Lord, to be with You; going up or down the mountain or waiting quietly in the grave.

+In Nomine Iesu +