February 14, 2021
The Transfiguration of Our Lord=
The Revelation of God’s Love!
After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. (NIV1984)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
“It is good for us to be here!” As I was preparing this sermon, I couldn’t help but think of how the words that the apostle Peter spoke on the Mount of Transfiguration apply so beautifully to today! After months and months and months of not being allowed to gather together inside the house of our God, “It is good for us to be here!” While we are thankful that we are now able to worship our God via Zoom, while it was wonderful to be able to worship our God in the beauty of His Creation, there is something special about gathering together as a family of believers here inside the house of the Living God. These past months have given us an even greater appreciation for the words of great King David, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go the house of the LORD’” (Psalm 122:1).
“It is good for us to be here!” After being labeled as “non-essential” for so many months, I personally think it is highly appropriate that our first service back inside the house of our God is taking place on February 14— Valentine’s Day! On a day that even the secular world has set aside as a day to openly express our love to others, we are given the option— and I say option because due to health considerations not everyone feels comfortable gathering together with others— we are given the option of openly expressing our love for our God here in His holy house.
Rejoicing at the option of worshiping inside God’s house after such a very long time and recognizing that today is not only Valentine’s Day, but even more importantly, today is Transfiguration Sunday, my goal this morning is to dove-tail those realities as we study this well-known portion of Scripture. To that end, our sermon theme for today is: The Transfiguration of Our Lord= The Revelation of God’s Love! There are three points I want to highlight today. First, let’s see that the Transfiguration is a revelation of God’s love for Peter, James and John. Then, let’s see that the Transfiguration is a revelation of God’s love for His Son. Finally, let’s see that the Transfiguration is a revelation of God’s love for us.
It’s actually very easy for us to see how the Transfiguration of our Lord is a revelation of God’s love for Peter, James and John. Look at what Mark writes in the opening portion of our text, “After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.”
“After six days.” What is Mark’s point of reference here? “Six days” after what? To answer that question we need to go back to Peter’s confession in Mark chapter eight. You know it well. Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say I am?” The disciples answered, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others one of the prophets.” Then Jesus asked them the most important question of all: “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” We all know and love Peter’s response, “You are the Christ.” The disciples were confident that they had things all figured out! For a long time they had seen and heard Jesus do wondrous things. They had watched Jesus heal many, cast out demons and feed crowds of thousands with just a little bit of food. They had seen Jesus walk on water, still a storm and raise people from the dead. They had heard Jesus teach God’s Word with a clarity and an authority that had never been seen or heard before. Purely by the grace and power of God the Holy Spirit they had been brought to believe that Jesus of Nazareth is “the Christ,” the long-awaited Promised Messiah.
But then Jesus did something the disciples did not expect. Mark says, “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.” Peter was so horrified by this that he took Jesus aside and “rebuked” Him. You know what comes next. Jesus “rebuked” Peter and said to him, “Get behind me Satan! You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Then Jesus goes on to teach His disciples that if anyone wants to be His disciple, they must take up their cross and follow Him. Jesus concludes by saying to His disciples, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with his holy angels.”
For six days— six days!— all of this was marinading in the minds and hearts of Jesus’ disciples. Then Jesus took Peter, James and John, the “inner circle” of His disciples up on a high mountain where He was “transfigured before them.” Peter, James and John were given the unique privilege of witnessing Jesus’ eternal divine glory radiate forth from His physical body. Then Peter, James and John were given the unique privilege of listening as Moses and Elijah talked with Jesus about “his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31).
How did all of this reveal God’s love for these three disciples? Fast forward to after Pentecost. Peter became a “pillar” in the church at Jerusalem. He also became known and recognized as “the Lord’s “apostle to the Jews” (Galatians 2:7-10). Peter drew upon his presence at Jesus’ Transfiguration to boldly and fearlessly proclaim the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to strengthen the faith of God’s people and to fortify the holy Scriptures as the only sure foundation of faith. (See 2 Peter 1:16-21) James became so prominent in the church at Jerusalem that King Herod had him arrested and “put to death with the sword” (Acts 12:1, 2). And John? John became such a powerful preacher of the cross of Jesus Christ that the Roman government exiled him to the island of Patmos. (See Revelation 1:9) And so yes, my friends, when we look at the roles that God had prepared for Peter, James and John we can see how the Transfiguration of our Lord served as a revelation of God’s love for these three men.
How did the Transfiguration of our Lord serve as a revelation of God’s love for His Son? That’s an even easier question to answer! For most of the 33 years that Jesus was visibly present here on this earth He lived in what is called His State of Humiliation. This means that as the Son of God Jesus willingly set aside the full use of the divine power, majesty and glory that was rightfully His from all of eternity. Paul describes Jesus’ State of Humiliation in this way, “He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness“ (Philippians 2:7). Now as Jesus is drawing near to the end of His mission here on this earth, as the cross on Calvary’s hill was coming closer and closer, Jesus’ divine majesty and Jesus’ divine glory was allowed to radiate forth from His human body. Imagine how refreshing that must have been for our Lord!
Now add to that the fact that the heavenly Father allowed Moses and Elijah to talk with Jesus “about his departure.” These two powerful men stood as testimonies to the fact that the entire Old Testament Scriptures— the Law and the Prophets— were in perfect agreement with what Jesus had told His disciples six days earlier. In order to fulfill the Father’s Plan of Salvation for this world Jesus had to be betrayed, He had to be arrested, He had to suffer and He had to die on the cross of Calvary’s hill. (Pointing to the cross) Jesus’ divine nature shining forth from His human nature plus Jesus’ conversation with Moses and Elijah then culminated with the Father’s proclamation from heaven, “This is my Son, whom I love.” And so, yes, the Transfiguration of our Lord does indeed serve as a revelation of God’s love for His Son!
Finally, how does the Transfiguration of our Lord serve as a revelation of God’s love for us? That’s the easiest question of all! Mark concludes our text by saying, “As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.”
Ever since Adam and Eve rebelled against their loving Creator, every single human being has been infected with a “virus” that is trillions of times more deadly than COVID-19. It is the “virus” of sin. There is no amount of “science,” there is no PPE, there is no quarantine, no social distancing and no vaccine that can even begin to help us avoid or overcome or mitigate this “virus.” As Scripture says, “The wages of sin = death” (Romans 6:23). Our heavenly Father knew that the only possible way for us to be saved was for Him to send Someone into this world to serve as our Substitute. Whom did He send? The answer to that question is both seen and heard in the Transfiguration of our Lord! In His amazing love for us God the Father sent the One whose “clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” In His amazing love for us God the Father sent the One whose “face shone like the sun” (Matthew 17:2). In His amazing love for us God the Father sent the One concerning whom He said, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
The Transfiguration of our Lord also reveals God’s amazing love for us by proving to us that faith in God’s Messiah, faith in Jesus Christ as one’s only Savior from sin, guarantees a glorious eternity! Moses died some 1,400 years before the Transfiguration of our Lord. Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind some 850 years before the Transfiguration of our Lord. And yet, here they are speaking with our Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration! What God promised to Moses and Elijah He has also promised to you. What God has done for Moses and Elijah He will also do for you. Trust in what Jesus has done for you (Pointing to the cross) and you will always have the comfort and the confidence that enables you to say— Heaven is my Home!
“It is good for us to be here.” As we hear the apostle Peter speak those words on the Mount of Transfiguration, as we hear the apostle Peter speak those words on the Sunday that we are finally allowed to gather together inside God’s house again, as we hear the apostle Peter speak those words on the day we celebrate Valentine’s Day— may we always remember how the Transfiguration of our Lord is the revelation of God’s love!
To God be the glory!