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Stop being afraid

Matthew 17:1-9

Pastor David Ernst

Transfiguration Sunday
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Feb 6, 2022 

“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear him.”

These very words spoke the voice of God the Father Almighty after the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. At that time, we have John the Baptist as a witness. Now, only these three heard the Father: Simon Peter, John and James, the sons of Zebedee. With his baptism, Jesus began his three years of public ministry. Six days before the Transfiguration, “Jesus began to declare to his disciples that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem and suffer much from the elders, and from the chief priests, and from the scribes; and be killed, and rise again the third day” (Matthew 16:21).

The Transfiguration of Jesus recorded also by Mark 9:2-8 and Luke 9:28-36 occurred approximately one year before Jesus' death, in northern Israel near Caesarea Philippi (now in Lebanon), on a mountain which is now unidentifiable. Only the three disciples who had witnessed his transfiguration Jesus took with him into the Garden of Gethsemane, to see the agony of his soul (Matthew 26:37). The vision of the Transfiguration strengthened them for what awaited them.

"And when they came down from the mount, Jesus commanded them, saying, Tell no one about the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead."

But, later, Saint Peter wrote in our epistle (2 Peter 1:16-21), "And we heard this voice sent from heaven, when we were with Him on the holy mountain." Saint John also, in his gospel, says thus, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, glory of him as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1 :14). Also, in Revelation 1:13-16, Juran portrays Christ in the state of glory and it is very likely that he is an image of what the three disciples saw.

The transfiguration confirms to the three disciples that Jesus truly is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, as Peter confessed six days earlier as well (Matthew 16:16).

But they always remembered not only the change in the appearance of Jesus Christ and the appearance of Moses and Elijah, but what the Father said. Peter says, "For He received from God the Father honor and glory, when a loud voice was sent to Him from the magnificent glory, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

This text contains three parts: the first of the Psalms (Psalm 2:7: You are my son), the second of the prophets (Isaiah 42:1: In whom my soul delights), and Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15: listen to him). Moses and Elijah were prophets of God who showed the people their sin. But only Jesus could heal sin and put an end to it. We now have the message of both the Law and the Gospel.

These words direct all our attention to the word of Jesus, which is the Word of God, and not to wonderful visions. We have enough in his Word, which gives us light in this dark world, and shows us the way of salvation.

Saint Peter says thus: “We also have the prophetic word more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp that shines in a dark place until the day dawns, and the morning star rises in your hearts; understanding this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation; because the prophecy did not come in the past tense by the will of man; but holy men of God spoke as they were led by the Holy Ghost.”

Subjective feelings are misleading. Like the disciples, we are fickle. In a moment we are in ecstasy. Another moment we are afraid. Then Jesus comes to us and tells us through the Word and the sacraments: "Stop being afraid."

May the peace that passes all understanding be with you. Amen.

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