Jesus, God our Savior reveals His deity
First St Johns March 2, 2014
So now we go from Christmas/Epiphany to Lent/Easter, a profound switch. Christmas /Epiphany a season of great celebration, of great promise, the baby, the magi. We go from a pregnant-teenage Mary, courageously traveling 70 some miles on a donkey to give birth to Meshach, the promised one, in the promised location of Bethlehem foretold 700 years earlier by the prophet Micah. Now she courageously follows Jesus to the cross which Jesus certainly foretold, He tells us in our reading today: “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” Simeon told Mary in the temple “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), (Luke 2: 34-35) Later in Matthew 17 Jesus explicitly says “…”The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.” (Matt 17: 22-23) Everyone is on notice, and they seem to take it seriously, but this passes and it’s business as usual. Lent is a season of repentance, part of repentance requires some serious introspection. We are so focused on moving forward, so focused on tomorrow, not only do we forget the past pretty quickly, but most of the time we aren’t even in the moment, we so often don’t realize what is going on around us, the importance of what is happening in real time, right here and now. Look at Peter. As usual, God bless him, he is off and running. He has just seen an astounding event, he certainly knows Jesus the man, He has been with Jesus for sometime, Jesus’ ministry was for three years. So Peter knows Jesus the man, but now he has been privileged to see Jesus God the Son. “His face shown like the sun”, even with today’s technology, we can only light something up so much. Athletes can easily tell you the difference between playing on a sunny day, compared with playing under the lights at night. “…his clothes became white as light”. Remember they’ve just climbed this mountain, now it is hilly here, much more then I’m used to in Massachusetts, but having been to Israel and seen the “mountains” we are talking a hike, a serious effort climbing up a rocky, dirty, dusty mountain. How do you think they looked by the time they got to the top of this mountain?… Yea, scroungy and sweaty and covered with dust and whatever. How do you think that despite the grime and grunge of climbing up a mountain, that these guys looked when they got to the top, that now they see Jesus in such glory that they are down on their faces, terrified? Maybe covering their eyes from the intensity of the light? They‘ve seen Jesus in His essence as true God, the “Keyword Study Bible” describes the Greek wordmetemorfw,qh“To transform, transfigure, change one’s form …Spoken literally of Christ’s transfiguration on the mount.”1 Jesus literally transformed into His essence as God the Son.
As I said, Peter is off and running, he’s so eager about what he’s seen, what should he have been eager about? … He’s just seen Jesus as God! I will bet that Peter, like too many of us today, was a little too familiar with Jesus the man, even though Jesus never hesitated to hold Peter accountable, to assert His authority over Peter, after reading this I think that Peter got a little too chummy, a little too familiar. Why does it seem that way? … Yea Jesus is great and He’s done great things, but right here I’ve seen these two guys I’ve heard about all my life,WOW! “Lord, it is good that we are [wow, thanks, that was so cool seeing Moses and Elijah, thanks and ah… of course You]. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” What’s Peter really telling Jesus? … “Oh yeah, you’re great! And so are Elijah and Moses”. Ya, NO! Elijah and Moses are great, but they are still men, regular people just like you and me. To be sure, God used them mightily, but they are still men. Who is Jesus? … Not only did this happen, but they’ve seen Jesus in a way that could only be seen in terms of Jesus being God, the divinity of Jesus. Peter’s trying to make them all equally great, but right on cue God the Father chimes in from the cloud: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Elijah and Moses are great, but this is My Son, the One and only the Meshiach, the promised One, true God, true man, He is and will be the redeemer of all who know Him as Lord. So, listen to Him. “The Case for Christ Study Bible”, Lee Stroebel, notes: “Moses appears as the representative of the old covenant and the promise of salvation, which was soon to be fulfilled in the death of Jesus. Elijah appears as the appointed restorer of all things…”2 Elijah was supposed to be the person who would make the way straight for the Lord, Jesus explained that John was Elijah and that is what John did. Both men have set the table, in baseball you have the guys who can get on base, they reliably hit singles to get on base to be driven home by the big slugger. Jesus is the big slugger, Jesus is the ultimate slugger, the Son of God, He is going to drive His chosen people home, the entire history of the Bible, by being that perfect sacrifice, being the complete fulfillment of everything the cumulative revelation of God through Abraham, Moses, Elijah, David, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, on and on. All that they have done can only be brought together by Him who has demonstrated for the past three years who He is, but has now given them a very graphic representation that He is indeed God the Son. Great, Moses and Elijah, but God the Father proclaims who Jesus is and that we should always, ultimately listen to Him.
Peter tells us in his epistle, our reading today: “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty…we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven…” David Ohlman writes; [The word] do,xan “glory, manifestation of radiance, brightness, splendour.’ The important point about the glory of which Peter speaks [2 Peter 1:17] is that it is manifested. This glory looks backward to Moses and Elijah and forward to the second coming of Jesus.”3 As Rev Ohlman points out: “…there is something that false religions lack. They lack the Word … God continues to speak, apart from anything man might do. He continues to call out to his children and bless them. The true God is not sitting in some particular place waiting for someone to bring him something…”4 The point was made on the White Horse Inn, that, “It was well known in the ancient world that the God of Israel acted and spoke to Israel, the “gods” of other people’s didn’t.”5 There are a lot of dumb idols that people worship today, they don’t speak or act either, Peter points out that there are many cleverly devised myths from his time. He is probably writing to the Christian churches 30-40 years after the event on the mountain, and this isn’t the first time, Peter wasn’t with Jesus at His baptism, but certainly it was common knowledge that the Father pronounced: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” (Mark 9:7) He was an eyewitness on the mountain and there were numerous eyewitnesses at Jesus’ baptism, there was no doubt about what the Father was proclaiming, this is Him who has been promised, my only begotten Son, true God.
The Father bookends His proclamations of who Jesus is around Jesus’ ministry, from His baptism to the point that leads to the cross. Jesus is making it very clear from this point, where this will end, He will die as the sacrifice for the sins of the world and all people that He brings to Himself, all of us who are adopted through our baptism into His death, who take His Body and Blood who know Jesus as their Lord, will be saved because God the Son came to minister and to ultimately be the sacrifice by which we are saved. So take some time this week to journal what this means, that God, who reveals Himself to us through His Word, is your Lord and your Redeemer. What would be going through your mind if you were on that mountain as Jesus revealed Himself as God. Begin now that introspection and repentance that we should practice in this season of Lent
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.
1Keyword Study Bible p 2222
2Lee Strobel The Case for Christ Study Bible p 1344
3Rev David Ohlman Concordia Pulpit Vol 24 Part 1, Series A p 43
4Ibid p 44
5White Horse Inn podcast, December 2013