Sermon for Transfiguration Sunday, February 9, 2014
Matt. 17:1-9, Ex. 34:29-35, 2 Pt. 1:16-21
Vicar Paul Rockrohr


“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty…BUT we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place.”


Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, at the testimony of two or three witnesses many things can be done. In legal cases, the combined testimony of multiple eyewitnesses will have a huge effect on a jury. In the Old Testament, capital punishment required at least two or three eyewitnesses to the crime. So when St. Peter writes that “we did not follow cleverly devised myths,” he is offering to the faithful a sure source of evidence of the majesty and glory of our Lord. Jesus took Peter, James, and John up on the holy mountain and was transformed before them in radiant glory, His face was like the sun, his clothes shining as light. Three witness, who saw Him speaking with Moses and Elijah, who heard the Father’s voice declare “this is My beloved Son, with who I am well pleased.” The same confession of the Father concerning His Son that was at the baptism of Jesus! The same declaration is made of the Son when He takes upon Himself the sin of the world and when He reveals His rightful glory as true God. Yet here this is added to it, “Listen to Him!”






Sermon for Transfiguration Sunday, February 9, 2014
Matt. 17:1-9, Ex. 34:29-35, 2 Pt. 1:16-21
Vicar Paul Rockrohr


“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty…BUT we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place.”


Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, at the testimony of two or three witnesses many things can be done. In legal cases, the combined testimony of multiple eyewitnesses will have a huge effect on a jury. In the Old Testament, capital punishment required at least two or three eyewitnesses to the crime. So when St. Peter writes that “we did not follow cleverly devised myths,” he is offering to the faithful a sure source of evidence of the majesty and glory of our Lord. Jesus took Peter, James, and John up on the holy mountain and was transformed before them in radiant glory, His face was like the sun, his clothes shining as light. Three witness, who saw Him speaking with Moses and Elijah, who heard the Father’s voice declare “this is My beloved Son, with who I am well pleased.” The same confession of the Father concerning His Son that was at the baptism of Jesus! The same declaration is made of the Son when He takes upon Himself the sin of the world and when He reveals His rightful glory as true God. Yet here this is added to it, “Listen to Him!”

Perhaps this addition should not surprise us. Looking back to what immediately proceeds this account, Jesus had just begun teaching the disciples about the reality of His mission as the Lamb of God. In Jerusalem He would suffer at the hands of the religious leaders, die, and would rise on the third day. Peter took Jesus aside and tried to rebuke Him, “May God be merciful to you Lord! This will surely not happen to you!” How did Jesus respond? “Get behind me Satan, you do not have in mind the things of God, but of men.” Peter what you desire worldly power and worldly kingdoms, the very things that the prince of this world desires. Honor, glory, power, riches, authority, these are not the things I have come for. I have given up these, which by right are mine, so that I will gain you and all who believe in me.


Jesus made himself nothing, taking on the form of a servant. He who created all things, becomes one of His creatures. For thirty-three years He walked this earth, and only on this day do we glimpse the flesh of our Lord Jesus displaying the majestic glory that is reserved for the only-begotten Son. With the three apostles as our eyewitnesses in a veritable mountain top experience, His face shines like the sun and His clothes are as white as light! The One who said “let there be light” is the light on the mountain. There is a reason why there is no sun in the new Jerusalem. The Lamb is the light of His people, and if you wonder what it will be like to dwell in the true city of God this is a glimpse. Moses and Elijah join Jesus and talk with Him, though notice it does not say they were shining. Peter is right; it is good to be here in the presence of the revealed glorious God and in the company of His faithful saints. He, James, and John are completely satisfied to remain here permanently for all time, even offering to build houses to dwell in.


Dear Christians, do you see here the truth of what you will confess in the Creed? I must concede that at times I speak the creed without realizing what I am truly saying, but listen to it here. “Begotten of His father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. That is, that all things were made through this Jesus and in a divine mystery there is a relationship between the Son and the Father from all eternity. This Son, who made Adam in the garden and spoke to Moses on Mt. Sinai, did not remain in heaven. Instead, “for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man.” God himself dwells among us, walking up the mountain with Peter, James and John. This is who shines in glory! That God of God and Light of Light should shine like the sun should not be surprising at all. In fact, it ought to be expected.


But God Himself comes to you, hiding His glory in the flesh of Christ. Though the Light of the world ought to shine like the sun at all times, He doesn’t. He does not overpower our will with His majesty, but in humility offers us forgiveness as a pure gift. What Jesus do you see in the hanging above the altar? It is not one of power and glory, as the world understands it. It is a dying, suffering servant that hangs there to whom you give honor and thanksgiving. It is Jesus who was mocked and scorned, beaten and abused. This is our glorious savior, who died in the most gruesome way, His blood poured out for us calling out for justice to the Father but not in the way of Abel’s blood. Christ’s blood begs for our pardon and gives peace to us. Yet what is so magnificent is that though the world truly saw a man die on that cross, even there Jesus is still God of God and Light of Light. Consider even what blood this was, that was poured out for the sins of the world! That it seen only to the eye as the blood of a man, but it truly was the blood of God! Think then too, what you will receive in bread and cup!


As Peter said rightly, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” It is good for us to come into the presence of the risen and glorified Christ here in this place. It is good for us to see the wondrous glory revealed on the holy mountain, so that we may know that the victory won by blood and death for us is one of life and splendor. In obedience to the Father, Christ shared our flesh and became like us in every way. As our merciful high priest He has made intercession for us and continues to do so. So the Father has given Him all glory, honor, and majesty, and these are marvelous and wonderful to behold. Jesus will surely return on the Last Day in power to collect His bride and destroy those who would oppose His righteous reign. Indeed, His transfiguration and revealing of His divinity should demonstrate one thing clearly. Even before He submitted to death on the cross Satan had no chance. God Himself has come to do battle with Satan and sin on our behalf, and when Christ set His face on Jerusalem it was only a matter of time for salvation to be accomplished. Since it accomplished, it is only a matter of time before He returns for us.


The awesome glory of His divine majesty and the wonderful glory of His bloody death, these both belong to our Lord Jesus. They belong to us as heirs of our Father in heaven, and co-heirs with Christ, though we have not fully received both yet. In this life we receive the glory of the cross and count ourselves as blessed when we share in the sufferings of Christ, being persecuted for righteousness’ sake. That is not to say that it will be pleasant or that we should enjoy suffering, but that God’s name is glorified in us during such times. But the time is coming when we will behold Christ in all His majesty, and He will crown us with glory and life everlasting for His name’s sake. Peter, James, and John are witnesses to us of how wonderful this will be, their testimony of Christ’s divine glory a great reassurance of things to come.


So we look forward eagerly to the return of our Lord, and it is right to do so. But this life will often overwhelm us, causing insecurity, despair, and dread. It is hard to picture the divine majesty of God when we look at the world around us, perhaps even impossible. Thus St. Peter, though having given us sure evidence of Christ’s glory by the testimony of three witnesses, points to something even more certain. He points us to the prophetic Word, that which is a lamp shining in a dark place. For Christ, the Incarnate Word has promised forgiveness and peace even as you are baptized into Him. How can you be baptized into Light and not shine before your Father in heaven as glorious as the one who covers you? He promises that you hear His voice in the preaching of His Word. He declares to you, “I am with you even to the end of the age.” These are the promises of the God-man, and they are certain for God cannot lie.


St. Peter, who beheld the majestic glory of the Lord does not point us to that day on that holy mountain finally, but instead back to the Scriptures and its witness. It is not in glory and splendor that we find our confidence and security in this life, but in the Word and all of God’s promises therein. After all, our Father in heaven has testified to us, “this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” Amen.

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