The Transfiguration of Our Lord – Pr. Anderson sermon
St. Matthew 17:1-9 “The Glory of the Son of Man”
January 21, 2024 | Christ Lutheran Church
In Nomine Iesu
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O God, who on the Mount revealed to chosen witnesses Your only begotten Son, wonderfully transfigured, in clothing white and glistening, mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the anxieties of this world, may be permitted to behold the King in His beauty, who with You, O Father, and You, O Holy Spirit, live and reign, one God, now and forever. Amen. (The Lutheran Liturgy, companion altar book for The Lutheran Hymnal, p. 78)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (Rom. 1:7, etc.)
The sermon text for today is taken from the 17th chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. We read selected verses in Jesus’ name:
[Peter] was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”
These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by Your truth, Your Word is truth. Amen. (Joh. 17:17)
In Christ Jesus, who is the light of the world, revealing His glory for all to see, so that all who do see can find comfort and strength in His redeeming work, dear fellow redeemed:
When you are in school and it is time to learn about insects in Life Sciences, the one that is always most memorable is the monarch butterfly. Out of all the insects, this one just stands out with children and even as adults we sure enjoy it when we catch the sight of a monarch flying around in the garden. Not too many insects start out beautiful like a monarch. As a caterpillar it stands out with its beautiful green, black, and white. The caterpillar then moves to the next stage of a Chrysalis. A beautiful cocoon where a change takes place. This is the change that fascinates everyone. The caterpillar goes through metamorphosis. And this is the Greek word that we see in our text today. As the caterpillar goes through metamorphosis and transforms into a beautiful butterfly, Jesus is transfigured before His disciples, where they see a glimpse of Him in glory, the glory of the Son of Man.
Jesus has been revealing His glory in His miracles, but what happened on the mountain in our text was much more. The timing is fitting. “And after six days Jesus took with Him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.” What Scripture is referring to is Peter’s great confession. Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ. His miracles, power, and glory are all pointed out in Peter’s confession. It is undeniable. Jesus tells His disciples that this is the truth. He then tells them what will happen to the Christ. He will go to Jerusalem to suffer and die. Now Peter didn’t like that answer, yet this answer gets affirmed in a beautiful way in our text. “And He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light.” The glory the disciples were able to behold! We have witnessed the sun shining bright as it rises in the morning, and we have seen flashes of lightning out of the thunder clouds. Jesus reveals to Peter, James, and John something truly special. They are witnessing a glimpse of Heaven.
To the awe of Peter, James, and John, this glimpse of heaven expands. “And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with Him.” You have a man who was taken up into heaven bodily and a man who was buried by God. They are the representatives of the Old Testament. It only makes sense that they would discuss with Jesus about His death because He is the death that they were pointing to. Peter is enjoying the moment and wants it to continue. “And Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good that we are here. If You wish, I will make three tents here, one for You and one for Moses and one for Elijah.'” Unfortunately, for the disciples this won’t last, it can’t. Heaven doesn’t work in this sinful world, and we don’t want Jesus to avoid the cross. If that happened then there would be no glory to look forward to.
What happens next in our text is a reminder of what would happen if there was no glory for us to see. “He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.’ When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified.” Peter understands that he is a sinner. He confessed to Jesus that he was a sinful man. Before our text, he is rebuked by Christ and was told, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23) And now what looks like a great time and one that should just last forever, the glory of God comes down in a cloud on the mountain. The just, holy, and righteous judge speaks for Peter, James, and John to hear.
Like Peter, James, and John, we also fall before the Almighty terrified. Isn’t that what we admit when we confess our sins every Sunday morning? We acknowledge that we have come into His presence, and we do not deserve His love. We confess our sins only deserve His wrath and punishment. That is what Peter, James, and John saw, and that is what we see in the cloud. Then God continues. “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” When it comes to listening to Christ, there are times where we will struggle to listen because He repeats God’s law. We can ignore His message of repentance, a message that is well pleasing to God. We can think that there is nothing wrong with the world. Jesus doesn’t need to die for sins, they aren’t so bad. It sometimes seems like heaven on earth or maybe we can make heaven on earth. Won’t that be good enough? This sinful world is covered in darkness. It is on the Mount of Transfiguration that the glory of the Son of Man is revealed, as the light of the world.
And as this light and glory is so bright that it’s hard to stand before it in a sinful state, we see the humanity of Christ. Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Jesus’ shows the disciples that this was only a glimpse. It isn’t His time to leave them yet. As they cowered in fear, they now get a gentle touch. The scene is over and there stands their teacher. He knows their sins and He comes to them and picks them up off of the ground.
The glory of the Son of Man is found in humble flesh. This scene was a lot to take in for the disciples but what they have witnessed is abundantly clear. Jesus is the Son of God. He has all of the power of God because He is God. And this is the glory for the salvation of the world. The glory of God that is merciful on those who fear Him. As Jesus has mercy on them, what was discussed with Moses and Elijah will come to fruition. The will of God is that the Son of Man will head down from the mountain where the glimpse of heaven was witnessed and head into Jerusalem where the pains of hell will be felt. What is shown brightly on the mountain will be put away once more for the world as the light of life is raised on the cross for salvation.
Jesus listens to God’s holy will. A cup that He asked the Father to take from Him, yet He drank it, showing His power and glory as the Son of Man who saves mankind. Peter, James, and John witnessed something truly remarkable. They were given a taste of the garments of salvation, garments that you will wear as Isaiah says, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness…” (Isaiah 61:10a). The Son of Man puts His hand on you and picks you up off of the ground showing you the love of God the Father so that you may rejoice.
Jesus does not want to see you collapsed and fallen on the ground. He knows the difficulties that are placed on you by the world. He has watched as you have tried to go your own way. He knows the remorse you have when you have failed God’s law and God’s judgement hangs over you as if there is no way to escape. He reveals to you His glory, glory that only the Son of Man can have, and He comes to you, puts His hand on you and points you to the Father’s will. The will that has Him on the cross taking away your sins. The will of the Father was long and difficult, but Jesus is perfect, and, in His transfiguration, you see His glory. A heavenly glory that He has won for you.
Now you might be wondering why Jesus would not want others to know of His glory. “Jesus commanded them, ‘Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.'” The disciples did not fully understand what God’s plan of salvation was. It was after Jesus’ death and resurrection that the disciples saw the glory of the Son of Man who accomplished the will of His Father. It was then that they could tell others, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). The world can hear the gospel message as it is carried to them by the Holy Spirit in the means of grace. You can find rest and comfort in hearing about Christ’s glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. It reveals the glory of the Son of Man who did all things for you and the heavenly glory that you will receive from Him when He calls you home.
And when He calls you home, it is there that you will see all the glory of Christ. He will shine so bright, and you won’t look away. John tells you what it will look like to see Jesus shining brightly for all in heaven to see. “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb (Revelation 21:23). What a beautiful sight that you will behold. Like a monarch emerging from the chrysalis the Son of Man is in His glory. From Christmas to now you have heard how Christ is revealed to you. The Son of Man came down from Heaven. He revealed His glory with His transfiguration. And He reveals Himself to you here and now. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Amen.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
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