130210 Luke 9:28-36

Last Updated on Monday, 11 February 2013 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Text: Luke 9:28-36
Theme: "It is Good for Us to Be Here"

About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, ''Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." (He did not know what he was saying.) While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, ''This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him." When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.

This is the Word of the Lord.

"It doesn't get any better than this. It is good to be here." Perhaps you have said this to yourself as you sat in your favorite spot on the lake or in the mountains, or as you sat in front of a warm fire on a cold and snowy night. In our Gospel Lesson for today, we read that Jesus' disciple, Peter, along with James and John had the opportunity to witness a glimpse of the Savior's glory. This caused Peter to say: "It doesn't get any better than this. It is good for us to be here." On this Transfiguration Sunday we travel along with the Savior, Peter, James and John to the top of a mountain. As we witness the Transfiguration of our Lord, we say along with Peter: " IT IS GOOD FOR US TO BE HERE!"

Why does our weekly schedule of readings offer us this reminder of our Savior's glory on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent? The answer to that question may be found in the fact that there are many who want to reduce Jesus Christ to nothing more than a great human being. A man's whose example we could all follow. If this is true about Jesus, if he is only a human being like you and me, all of us would have no hope and would be lost for all eternity. Because of our sinfulness, each of us was born with a great need for a Savior. We couldn't do it on our own. Jesus Christ had to be true man so he could live under God's Law in our place. But if he were only a man, that perfect life could only save himself. But, this morning, as we go to the mountain top along with Jesus, we too witness his glory. We see that Jesus Christ is indeed not only true man, but also true God. As true God, the perfect life that Jesus lived under God's Law counts for you and me. The perfect Lamb of God lived, suffered, died and rose again for your forgiveness and mine. The debt of our sinfulness is paid for in full by our glorious Savior, Jesus Christ.

Are you able to picture yourself on the mountain with Jesus that day? Look around you. What do you see? What do you hear? The Savior's appearance had been changed. You see and hear two "giants" from the Old Testament talking with Jesus: Moses and Elijah. You see the cloud. You hear the voice of God the Father. What would have been your reaction? Would you have wanted to stay or leave? Would you have joined Peter in saying to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." Most commentators on the Bible have suggested that Peter said this because he wanted to see Jesus remain in his glory. Perhaps Peter was thinking that Jesus could enjoy this glory now, without having to go through the suffering he was talking about during the past week leading up to his Transfiguration. This is exactly the reason why it was not only a good time for the three disciples to see Jesus' glory, but it was also a good time for the Savior to remind them of his mission.

What was Jesus' mission? We are told that as Jesus, Moses and Elijah talked on the mountain that day, "they spoke about his departure which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem." The Savior, Moses and Elijah were talking about Jesus' upcoming mission in Jerusalem. They were talking about how soon he would suffer and die for the sins of the world. But it is quite likely the conversation did not stop there. Most likely they also discussed how this would not be a shameful defeat, but a glorious victory, including the victory of Easter morning, as Jesus would rise from the dead. And then, 40 days after his resurrection, how he would ascend into heaven and take his place seated at the right hand of God the Father, that is his position of power and authority.

God the Father also mentioned the mission of the Savior. Remember his words: "This is my Son, whom I have chosen. Listen to him." God the Father said that you and I are to listen to the words of his one and only Son, Jesus Christ. We are to take everything he says seriously. There are not, as some imagine, many roads which lead to heaven. Not all religions are the same. The saying that tells us that "all steeples point to heaven" is not true. It is only through Jesus Christ and what he accomplished that you and I are saved. We do not have the freedom to pick and choose which words of the Savior we want to hear. We are to hear everything that he says. Our Lutheran confessions make this same point: "Therefore the eternal Father calls down from heaven concerning His dear Son and concerning all who preach repentance and forgiveness of sins in His name: 'Listen to Him'. Now, all who wish to be saved ought to hear this preaching of God's Word. For the preaching and hearing of God's Word are instruments of the Holy Ghost, by, with, and through which he desires to work and to convert men to God, and to work in them both to will and to do."

There is one more point I would like you to take from Luke's account of our Savior's transfiguration. Notice the Savior's love in action. Notice how he did not stay on that mountain, like Peter wanted him to. Notice that we don't read about Peter, James or John having to pull or drag Jesus down the mountain. On his own, moved by his love, Jesus comes down from the mountain to continue his mission. Willingly he would endure the suffering that was coming. He would place himself on the cross and die. He would rise again in great victory over sin, death and the devil!

The Savior's mission while on this earth contradicted what many thought that mission should have been. Several times in the Gospels we read how some of Jesus followers wanted him to set up a kingdom here on earth. Time after time, Jesus had to remind his disciples that his mission was not to establish some type of earthly kingdom. His mission was to live, suffer, die and rise again in our place; to win for all people the wonderful gift of forgiveness. Beginning this Ash Wednesday, we will follow Jesus as he leaves the mountain and completes his mission. I invite you to join us each Wednesday evening at either 4:00 or 7:00 PM for these special worship opportunities, as we once again remember the mission Christ our Savior accomplished for us.

"It is good for us to be here!" We often times use this expression when we are doing something we enjoy. Enjoy witnessing the glory of our Savior. Enjoy reminding yourself of his mission. During the upcoming Lenten season, may all of us look forward to our many worship opportunities, and say along with Peter, "IT IS GOOD FOR US TO BE HERE!" Amen.

Our Mission Statement:

Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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Sunday
8:00 A.M. & 10:30 A.M.

9:15 A.M. Bible Study for All Ages

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818 West Wisconsin Avenue
Oconomowoc, WI 53066
262-912-6060

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