And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. 9 And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”
IN NOMINE JESU
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, especially Sharon, Doris, Dawn, Danielle, Dominique, and Jonathan:
The “Old Buzzard.” “Papa Smurf.” The “Old Man.” These are nicknames that I heard were bestowed upon Harvey during his pilgrimage here on earth. I would like to announce a new name for him: saint. Some of you may think it odd or humorous to think of Harvey as a saint, but the fact remains that he is. He was but a stranger here, for heaven is his home. He is home, resting eternally in the peace of Christ, beholding Him in all His glory, the same glory Peter, James, and John beheld when they were on the Mount of Transfiguration, seeing Moses, Elijah, and the transfigured Jesus. There was the Lord in all His heavenly glory, which should have killed those three disciples, for no one can see God’s face and live. But Jesus spared them, so that they would tell future generations of what they saw. They were terrified when God the Father spoke from the cloud that overshadowed them. They fell on their faces in fear. But Jesus came to them, touched them, and told them to rise and have no fear. When they looked up, they saw no one but Jesus only, and they heard no one but Jesus only.
“No one but Jesus only.” What five wonderful words these are! These five words describe Harvey’s world—his new world—life in heaven into all eternity, life with Jesus forever. At this baptismal font over 60 years ago, the Holy Spirit entered Harvey’s heart so that Harvey would see with eyes of faith, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). At the font Harvey became robed in Christ’s righteousness and was transfigured in the eyes of God, from being a sinner to being a sinner-saint. Yes, the “sinner” label was part of Harvey. This he knew. Harvey time and time again, in this house of the Lord, confessed his sins. What he confessed about himself is the same thing we must confess about ourselves. Like Harvey was, we too are poor, miserable sinners who are by nature sinful and unclean. Like Harvey, we too have sinned against God by what we have done and by what we have left undone in our sins and iniquities. Like Harvey, we too have ever offended God because we have not loved him with our whole heart and have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. Like Harvey, we too deserve God’s present and eternal punishment. What happened to Harvey just after 2 pm on Monday is what will one day happen to us. We, too, will die. Apart from faith in Christ, that death will be an eternal death.
But I have good news for you. Rise, and do not fear. Lift up your hearts. Let not your heart be troubled. The death that befell Harvey was not an eternal death; it marked the beginning of eternal life with Christ in heaven for Him. You see, the Holy Spirit, who began working in Harvey at his Baptism, led him before this very altar and confessed the faith into which he became baptized. He confessed Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. His pastor at that time may well have been standing in front of him, but Harvey saw no one but Jesus only, the same Jesus who would feed him on Jesus’ true body and blood—the very body He gave and the very blood He shed on the cross to take away Harvey’s sins, your sins, my sins, and the sins of the whole world. Throughout Harvey’s life, he not only confessed his sins, but he also received God’s forgiveness. He received it in Holy Absolution and in the reading and proclamation of God’s Word. Yes, there was pastor in the chancel, speaking God’s Gospel, but it didn’t come from the pastor; it came through him. You see, Harvey saw no one but Jesus only, and he heard no one but Jesus only. How is this possible? By the Holy Spirit at work in him, Harvey walked by faith and not by sight, “For,” as St. Paul writes, “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18).
What is eternal is the life Harvey now enjoys and, by the grace of God, the life we will one day enjoy, for we are heirs of the promise of eternal life, the promise God made to us at our Baptism and sealed for us when His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ rose from the dead that Easter morn. Christ is risen! He lives! Death cannot hold Him. Sin has no power over Him. Christ’s victory over sin, death, and hell is ours, too. It’s Harvey’s victory, which he now celebrates with the angels, archangels, and with all the company of heaven at the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which has no end, and which we and all the faithful will one day celebrate in heaven. Until that day comes for us, know and believe this, fellow redeemed: we are still communing with Harvey; he dines at the eternal feast while we partake of the foretaste of that feast to come. You see, when Jesus comes to us, He brings heaven down to earth with Him: the angels, the archangels, all the company of heaven, of which Harvey is now a part. He eats and drinks with you, and by your God-given faith you will see Harvey again, this time in the image of God, even as you will see your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in all His glory, just as Peter, James, and John saw Him in His glorified, transfigured state.
Just as Harvey now is transfigured, so one day we shall be, as St. Paul proclaims to us in the great resurrection chapter, 1 Corinthians 15: 42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. [1 Cor. 15:42-57]
May God continue to give us His Holy Spirit through the Word and Sacraments, so that we would see and hear no one but Jesus only. Amen.
SOLI DEO GLORIA
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