Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.
1 I grew up going to St. John Lutheran Church in Thorndale, Texas.
At St. John's, there's a statue of Jesus that's imprinted on my mind.
The statue is up high on the wall—to the right of the altar and to the left of the
pulpit—right smack in the front of the church.
You cannot go into St. John's and miss the statue of Jesus.
2 Why is that important?
Because that statue of Jesus is the image of Jesus that always come to my mind
when I pray.
I can see the nail marks in his outstretched hands.
I can see the mark on his side where the centurion's spear pierced him through.
I can see, the flowing tan robes that Jesus wears with their gold trim
And I can see, very clearly, the face of Jesus on that statue.
3 What do you see in your mind when you pray to our Lord?
Perhaps a statue comes to mind, like me.
Or maybe it's the stained glass window in the church where you grew up.
Maybe it's an actor who played Jesus in a movie.
Or maybe it's the picture you've conjured up in your own mind.
4 Maybe your vision of Jesus
is more or less detailed
more or less concrete
more or less abstract
But If you're at all like me—and I bet you are—the image of what Jesus looks like in your mind isn't all that much what Jesus looks like in the gospel for today.
St. Matthew 17.1-2
. . . Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
5 This is not your typical church statue Jesus.
Peter, James, and John don't see Jesus with long hair and a neat beard and gentle, friendly eyes.
No, they see Jesus with a face that shines like the brightness of the sun.
They don't see Jesus with flowing robes, trimmed with gold, billowing around his body—
No, they see only raiment that radiates light like the stars in the heavens above.
They don't see the Jesus they're used to seeing—
Instead, at the Transfiguration, they see Jesus with a face that shines like the sun and clothes that glow in heavenly light.
6 They see Jesus as St. John sees him in Revelation:
Revelation 1.14-15, 16b
His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters . . . and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
Peter, James, and John see:
Our resurrected Lord as he is right now.
Jesus in all his divine glory.
This is what Jesus is like:
As he prays constantly on our behalf before our Father in heaven.
As he reigns over all things in heaven and on earth.
Even as he comes to us in his Holy Word and Blessed Sacraments:
clothed and hidden in mundane things like words and water and bread and wine.
7 By revealing his heavenly glory (to Peter, James, and John)
Jesus revealed that Moses, who spoke with God face to face, was all the while
speaking with him—God the Son—Christ our Lord.
Jesus revealed that Elijah (and all the prophets) prophesied about him and him alone, because they had seen his glory.
Jesus gave Peter, James, and John a momentary glimpse of his heavenly state; a peek at what he looks like in all his glory in heaven above.
8 Make no mistake, at this point of his earthly ministry, there is still much suffering to come for Jesus.
He will be
Needlessly arrested //
Brutally beaten //
Nailed to the cross
Buried dead in a borrowed tomb.
All at the hands of sinful men who had never seen his glory.
And all for the sake of sinful people who might yet share in his glory.
We are those sinful people.
We have not yet seen Jesus' glory with our eyes, but by his grace, today he gives us a glimpse and a taste of it as we celebrate his Transfiguration.
Today, Jesus pours down his grace and light upon us and take us with Peter, James, and John to the mount of the Transfiguration.
9 What Jesus revealed to them there, today he reveals to us by his Word.
Moses is even now in heaven, speaking with Christ face to face.
Elijah and all the prophets are now in heaven, speaking with Christ face to face.
The glorious vision Peter, James, and John saw, is the vision of all the saints who now rest in the blessed repose of heaven above.
They now see Jesus in his glory, face to face!
10 As we meditate on this vision of Jesus in all his glory, Jesus reveals that this is indeed
a vision of our own future glory.
Yes, we too may be
Hatefully persecuted because of our faith.
We may—God forbid—be arrested because of our beliefs.
We may be belittled, abused—perhaps even martyred simply because we are Christians.
And like Christ, for us in this life—there is still much suffering to come.
We will not be crucified,
but we will all know the suffering of
failing bodies and faltering minds
and wounds that will not heal—physical and emotional
the spiritual assaults of the evil one upon our souls.
And it will all ultimately culminate in
our own death
our own burial.
11 But what awaits us after our death is the glory Jesus reveals in his Transfiguration.
St. Paul says:
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
And St. Paul wasn't saying anything new:
The prophet Daniel says:
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake . . . And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
In the apocryphal book of Wisdom we read:
Wisdom 3.1, 7
But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them. . . And in the time of their visitation they shall shine, and run to and fro like sparks among the stubble.
The glory they all speak of, is the glory we see in Jesus!
The glory which shall be revealed in us is
The glory Christ reveals at his Transfiguration.
The glory that shines like the sun and brightens heavens and earth.
The glory of our risen Lord
It's the glory from which God the Father speaks and says:
St. Matthew 17.5
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
12 When we hear Jesus
When we listen to him
We hear Jesus reveal that his Transfiguration is a preview of things to come.
It's a preview
Of his return to glory after his crucifixion.
Of our return to glory after our salvation.
13 So how you see Jesus when you pray says something about how you see your own future.
If you're praying ONLY to the suffering, dying, crucified Jesus—
It may mean that's all you see in your own future.
If you're ONLY praying to a dead Jesus, buried in the tomb—
It may mean that's all you expect for yourself.
14 But when we pray, and we contemplate
Jesus crucified, dead, and buried
Jesus risen from the dead
Jesus glorified, as we see in the Transfiguration
When we pray and contemplate Jesus this way:
WE PRAY TO THE LORD AS HE IS.
BY SUCH PRAYER WE TAKE HOLD OF OUR OWN FUTURE.
A FUTURE WHERE WE WILL BE TRANSFIGURED BY THE GLORY OF CHRIST.
By such prayer and contemplation, God our Father
Strengthens our faith.
Secures for us a share in the future of Peter, James, John, and all the saints in Christ.
That future is this:
Life in the glory of Christ.
Life in the light of Christ.
Life in the presence of Christ.
Transfiguration of our own into bodies and souls filled with the radiant majesty of Christ.
15 So the next time you pray,
picture your Jesus
But also call to mind Jesus at the Transfiguration:
Because that is the image of your Christ, our Lord as he is even now.
And it's the image of you, and you shall be with Christ in all eternity.
Filled with the light of God.
God grant it for Jesus' sake.
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