Tag Archives: transfiguration

The Veil is lifted Luke 9 Transfiguration Sunday March 3, 2019 Trinity Lutheran Church Chestertown, Md

[click on the icon above for the audio of this sermon]

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son T and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who have been allowed a glimpse of Jesus as God as His children in baptism said … AMEN

We’re in an interesting period, between the secular observances of Saints; Nicholas, Valentine and Patrick, Jesus’ lifting of His Human veil, plus the time of Lent, where we dedicate time to special reverence. I did come across some detail on the St Valentine story: “A common hagiography describes Saint Valentine, as the former Bishop of TerniNarnia and Amelia, a town of Umbria, in central Italy. While under house arrest of Judge Asterius, and discussing his faith with him, Valentinus … was discussing the validity of Jesus. The judge put Valentinus to the test and brought to him the judge’s adopted blind daughter. If Valentinus succeeded in restoring the girl’s sight, Asterius would do anything he asked. Valentinus laid his hands on her eyes and the child’s vision was restored. The judge obeyed and as a result, freed all the Christian inmates under his authority. The judge, his family and his forty-four member household were baptized.[20] Valentinus was later arrested again for continuing to proselytize and was sent to the prefect of Rome, to the emperor Claudius.

   Of much more importance, like more than infinitely more important, we remember the Transfiguration of Jesus today. Festivals of different saints are a great thing, especially when it’s one who like St Nicholas, Valentine, Patrick who are readily recognized by the secular world, and we don’t emphasize enough the importance of these saints, not for holidays, but because of how they lived and died for Jesus. But we also remember, that in Jesus we are all saints, Nicholas, Patrick, Valentine, great men, who should be remembered as examples of faithful living and maybe we should be more pro-active about observing their feasts and festivals. We look to those men for their example, we pray for God’s strength to emulate their lives, but we too are saints and we all are priests and we are all expected to come into the presence of the Father on the basis of our salvation in Jesus.

Jesus has shown Himself during the incarnation as a man, the Bible says a rather unremarkable looking man, you wouldn’t think much about Him at all if you walked by Him on the street. Those privileged disciples, by extension, now, us, see Jesus as He truly is. He is God, He is appearing to His disciples, in, no doubt, a much more muted form. We could not endure His splendor as God the Son, but in the Transfiguration there is no doubt that He is far above anything we are and the Father comes along and confirms, this is My Son! The veil has been lifted. There are a few times in the Bible where people have been left with a view that’s been hazed over, if not outright obstructed. Moses was in the actual presence of God and had to wear a veil among the people because they weren’t able to bear even a sort of reflected view of God’s Shekinah glory. Mary Magdalene had a veil over her eyes at the tomb. The two disciples didn’t see Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Gregory of Nazianzus writes “The great theophany of Jesus’ transfiguration gives us a glimpse of the mystery of the future resurrected life in Christ.”[1] This is not just the veil of the deity of Jesus, but also the revelation, which Jesus gives us a further revelation of in His resurrection. Which will be us, as Jesus is in our reading, but we will also be so much glorious in the resurrection.

Dr David Lewis observes: “Paul discusses the cause of unbelief with the image of “the veil” an image where faith is likened to seeing and so unbelief is blindness.” We certainly know those who just will not see Jesus as Lord. I have no doubt, the Holy Spirit has presented Jesus, has tried to move some people and they will just not be budged, they like the blindness.

I certainly resonate with what Dr Lewis says in terms of Paul’s ministry and ministry today. Christian ministry, proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus is not for shrinking violets and the church has been guilty of that for decades and is becoming even less of a witness today. We are more concerned about offending others, quoting Billy Graham, while we’re offending God.

Dr Lewis notes: “Because of this [inability to see under the veil] Paul stresses the importance of conducting his ministry with openness/boldness. What is openly proclaimed is that Jesus is Lord.” Why proclaim Him? “The hope [Greek elpida, elpus] in the enduring/remaining glory…the new covenant … This hope motivates Paul to behave boldly/frankly/openly (marresia) in his ministry …”[2] As we should.

Jesus has unambiguously revealed Himself on that mountain and the Father has confirmed who Jesus is: “This is my beloved Son.” The Father envelopes everyone in a cloud, which causes John, James and Peter to be afraid. God the Father proclaims, “This is my Son, my Chosen: listen to him!” The Father never says this about anyone else through the span of 5,000 years recorded in Scripture, or any time in history. He says this just about Jesus. There is no doubt who the Father is, there is no doubt who the Son is. Ambrose writes: “The cloud that overshadows them does not sprinkle them with moisture but with faith to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.”[3] We are God’s children when we are born again in baptism, we are His and we are strengthened through His Word in preaching and in Scripture and we are saved through the Body and Blood of Jesus. We are saved through His sacrifice, the payment of His perfect life as compensation, the just payment for our sins. This is our hope, this is the only hope of mankind, the Lord Jesus! And that is why we must boldly proclaim the hope and promise of Him, as Paul did. Jerome writes: “They [Moses, Elijah, the disciples, us], too, indeed are dear to Me, but He is My beloved; hear Him, therefore. They proclaim and teach Him, but you, hear Him; He is the Lord and Master, they are companions in servitude. Moses and Elias speak of Christ; they are your fellow servants; He is the Lord; hear Him. Do not render the same honor to fellow servants as to the Lord and Master. Hear only the Son of God.” You might wonder why Moses, who was given the Law, Elijah considered the Prince of the Prophets figure into this scene. I don’t know where I read this, Jesus talking to Moses and Elijah, that they were discussing His “departure”, which we understand is from His earthly life, to His resurrected life, His glory at God’s right hand. But it’s also to initiate the age of grace, we are saved by Jesus’ acts which are rapidly approaching after the Transfiguration. His entry into Jerusalem, His brutal beatings, torture and crucifixion, His glorious resurrection on Easter. But it is also to close out the age. We are no longer under the Law given to Moses, we are saved only by grace. Further, the age of prophecy which Elijah represents, which consists of so many holy and righteous men is also at an end. We have Jesus’ promises, there is no further revelation, all we need to know to the end times is revealed in Jesus.

Now that Jesus begins the last leg of His journey to the Cross, everything is set for His glorious resurrection and the promise of our glorious eternal resurrection in Jesus.

Since we are entering in to the time of Lent, the time for sacrifice, for reflection, for service, please take more intentional time in devotions. For this week spend some time in prayer asking for guidance to help you lift the veil from those you know. How can the Holy Spirit work through you? Who does He want you to help to lift the veil from their eyes to see the only hope and promise in the world? Jesus Christ, God the Son and our Savior. The Holy Spirit has lifted the veil from we who are baptized and born again in Jesus. He works through us to lift the veil from others in order that they see Jesus.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.

[1] Gregory of Nazianzus quoted in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture NT III Luke Edited by Arthur Just p 158

[2] Dr David Lewis  “Concordia Journal/Winter 2015) pp 60-61

[3] Op. Cit.

The Veil is lifted from Jesus First St Johns February 15, 2015

We Make Our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who have been allowed a glimpse of Jesus as God as His children in baptism said … AMEN

Happy day after ST Valentine’s day! “A common hagiography describes Saint Valentine, as the former Bishop of TerniNarnia and Amelia, a town of Umbria, in central Italy. While under house arrest of Judge Asterius, and discussing his faith with him, Valentinus (the Latin version of his name) was discussing the validity of Jesus. The judge put Valentinus to the test and brought to him the judge’s adopted blind daughter. If Valentinus succeeded in restoring the girl’s sight, Asterius would do anything he asked. Valentinus laid his hands on her eyes and the child’s vision was restored. The judge obeyed and as a result, freed all the Christian inmates under his authority. The judge, his family and his forty-four member household were baptized.[20] Valentinus was later arrested again for continuing to proselytize and was sent to the prefect of Rome, to the emperor Claudius Gothicus (Claudius II) himself. Claudius condemned Valentinus to death, commanding that Valentinus either renounce his faith or he would be beaten with clubs, and beheaded. Valentinus refused.[21] Another narrative says he was arrested and imprisoned upon being caught marrying Christian couples and otherwise aiding Christians who were at the time being persecuted by Claudius in Rome. Helping Christians at this time was considered a crime. He was beaten with clubs and stones; when that failed to kill him, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate. [23] Archaeologists unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.”[1]

Valentines also seems to be another of those festivals that the world has co-opted and frankly corrupted. Yes, there is an element of romantic love, of Eros, in the Valentine story, it is much more about the agape love, what Valentine did in order to witness to Christ. There is little doubt in my mind that Valentine would be embarrassed beyond description for us and for himself to be associated with a Feast that the world has really corrupted.

   Of much more importance, much more, like more than infinitely more important, we remember the Transfiguration of Jesus today. Festivals of different saints are a great thing, especially when it’s one who like St Nicholas, Valentine, Patrick who are readily recognized by the secular world, and we don’t emphasize enough the importance of these saints, not for holidays, but because of how they lived and died for Jesus. But we also remember, that in Jesus we are all saints, Nicholas, Patrick, Valentine, great men, and they should be remember as examples of faithful living and maybe we should be more pro-active about observing their feasts and festivals. We look to those men for their example, we pray for God’s strength to emulate their lives, but we too are saints and we all are priests and we are all expected to come into the presence of the Father on the basis of our salvation in Jesus.

Jesus has shown Himself during the incarnation as a man, the Bible says a rather unremarkable looking man, you wouldn’t think much about Him at all if you walked by Him on the street. Those privileged disciples and by extension, now, us, get to see Jesus as He truly is. He is God, He is appearing to His disciples, in, no doubt, a much more muted form. We could not endure His splendor as God the Son, but in the Transfiguration there is no doubt that He is far above anything we are and the Father comes along and confirms, this is My Son! The veil has been lifted. There are a few times in the Bible where people have been left with a view that’s been hazed over, if not outright obstructed. Moses was in the actual presence of God and had to wear a veil among the people because they weren’t able to bear even a sort of reflected view of God’s Shekinah glory. Mary Magdalene had a veil over her eyes at the tomb. The two disciples didn’t see Jesus on the road to Emmaus.

Dr David Lewis observes: “Paul discusses the cause of unbelief with the image of “the veil” an image where faith is likened to seeing and so unbelief is blindness.” We certainly know those who just will not see Jesus as Lord. I have no doubt, the Holy Spirit has presented Jesus, has tried to move some people and they will just not be budged, they like the blindness.

I certainly resonate with what Dr Lewis says in terms of Paul’s ministry and ministry today. Christian ministry, proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus is not for shrinking violets and the church has been guilty of that for decades and is becoming even less of a witness today. We are more concerned about offending others, while to quote Billy Graham, we’re offending God.

Dr Lewis notes: “Because of this [inability to see under the veil] Paul stresses the importance of conducting his ministry with openness/boldness. What is openly proclaimed is that Jesus is Lord.” Why proclaim Him? “The hope [Greek elpida] in the enduring/remaining glory…the new covenant … This hope motivates Paul to behave boldly/frankly/openly (marresia) in his ministry …”[2] As we should do.

Jesus has now unambiguously revealed Himself on that mountain and the Father has confirmed who Jesus is: “This is my beloved Son.” We are God’s children, we are born again in baptism, we are His and we are strengthened through His Word in preaching and in Scripture and we are saved through the Body and Blood of Jesus. We are saved through His sacrifice, the payment of His perfect life as compensation, the just payment for our sins. This is our hope, this is the only hope of mankind, the Lord Jesus! And that is why we must boldly proclaim the hope and promise of Him, as Paul did. Jerome writes: “They [Moses, Elijah, the disciples, us], too, indeed are dear to Me, but He is My beloved; hear Him, therefore. They proclaim and teach Him, but you, hear Him; He is the Lord and Master, they are companions in servitude. Moses and Elias speak of Christ; they are your fellow servants; He is the Lord; hear Him. Do not render the same honor to fellow servants as to the Lord and Master. Hear only the Son of God.”

For this week spend some time in prayer asking for guidance to help you lift the veil from those you know. How can the Holy Spirit work through you? Who does He want you to help to lift the veil from their eyes to see the only hope and promise in the world? Jesus Christ, God the Son and our Savior. The Holy Spirit has lifted the veil from we who are baptized and born again in Jesus.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.

[1] http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=159

[2] Dr David Lewis  “Concordia Journal/Winter 2015) pp 60-61

The Transfiguration of Christ.

 

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? Theyve 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