+ In Nomine Jesu +
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
The text for the message this morning is the Gospel reading from Matthew 17. The last Sunday in Epiphany is always observed as Transfiguration Sunday. Thus, we have before us Matthew's account of Jesus' transfiguration. That said, I'm going to begin this morning with a little discussion of the ongoing debate between the proponents of evolution and creation. I will bring things back around to the Gospel reading and hopefully you'll see how Jesus' Transfiguration interjects Godly wisdom and hope into the godless opinion that we emerged from some primordial ooze only to return there again.
Since Charles Darwin postulated, in The Origin of Species, that the fittest survive in each species and eventually evolve over time into other species taking into account environmental and other factors, the theory of evolution has been pitted against creationism. Creationism, as you know, is the belief that God created the heavens and the earth just as the Bible says. As to the answer to the question of "where we came from," creationism has been summarily dismissed by evolutionists as "faith," or, as "religious doctrine." The evolutionists belief, on the other hand, that we evolved from a primitive form to become what we are today, they call science.
Darwin wrote his book in 1859. While the debate between evolution and creationism has been around every since the book came out, interest in the issue has been on the rise lately. In fact, about three weeks ago there was a debate broadcast over the internet between Bill Nye, known by kids the world over as "the science guy," and Ken Hamm, President of an organization called "Answers in Genesis" and of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky.
The debate probably didn't change minds one way or the other, but it brought to light, in simple terms, the difference between the two positions. The one, Bill Nye, in line with his evolutionist position, insisted that mankind is influenced to study the universe and to make advances in scientific discovery simply because this world is all there is. He even went so far as to suggest that belief in creationism hinders scientific study and discovery. Ken Hamm maintained the opposite. Since Christians are called to love and serve God by loving and serving their neighbor they are compelled to study and make scientific discoveries for the betterment of mankind.
About now, you may be asking what all this has to with Transfiguration Sunday and specifically with the Transfiguration of our Lord? Well, there are events that occurred in Jesus' life that are descriptive, or, we might say, that are prescriptive of things that will take place in our lives as His children, those who have been claimed by Him in the water of Baptism. For instance, Jesus' baptism is descriptive of your own. When He was baptized, the heavens opened and the Father said, "this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." So it is, then, in your baptism the Father has declared you to be His dear son or daughter, and yes, with you, He is well pleased!
In that same baptism, you were "buried with Christ unto death." His death is your death. His suffering and bitter agony are your suffering and bitter agony. His resurrection from the dead is the promise of your own resurrection from the dead. More than that it is a picture of your own resurrection from the dead. Just as His physical body was raised from the grave in a glorified state, so your physical body will be raised in a glorified state too! His Ascension likewise is descriptive of your ascension. As He promises through the Apostle Paul, on that Last Great Day you will "be caught up to meet The Lord in the air."
On the Mt. of Olives, Jesus was Transfigured before Peter, James and John. Moses and Elijah were also there. "And he was transfigured before them (Matthew says), and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light." It is interesting to note that the word translated here as "transfigured" is the Greek word from which we get our English word "metamorphosis." The word brings to mind the process of a caterpillar turning into a beautiful butterfly. It involves a change, in this case, into something glorious. Jesus' "face (Matthew says) shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light."
The evolutionist insists that the only change any of us will see is death is rot and decay. The stuff of your body that supposedly took millions and millions of years to evolve finally gets tired of evolving. Death consumes you. You're put in the ground. The worms, who are yet to evolve into anything more than a worm, eat your flesh until only your bones are left to decay. Death is a change for the evolutionist, a metamorphosis, if you will, but in this case, the change is from glory to dust.
In reality, what awaits you is transfiguration, a metamorphosis from a body and soul corrupted by the disease of sin, to a body and soul raised in honor and glory. Again, St. Paul paints for you a picture of what awaits you. "There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another..." "So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power."
Peter, as you know, was so captured by the sight of Jesus' transfiguration that he didn't want to go back down the mountain. So it is that God has prepared for you a place of such contentment, such bliss, a place free of sin and death and all that are associated with them that, when you are there, when your metamorphosis has taken place, when you've been changed, you'll acknowledge with Peter and all the saints who have gone before you, "It is good, Lord, to be here!" In Jesus' name. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.
+ Soli Deo Gloria +
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