Let us pray: O merciful and everlasting God, heavenly Father: We thank You that You have revealed to us the glory of Your Son, and let the light of Your Gospel shine upon us: We pray that You would guide us by this light that we may walk diligently as Christians in all good works, ever be strengthened by Your grace, and conduct our lives in all godliness; through the same, Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
28 Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray.
29 As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening.
30 And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah,
31 who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
32 But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him.
33 Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah “– not knowing what he said.
34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud.
35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!”
36 When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the things they had seen.
These are Your Words heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.
Heavenly Conversation Is About Jesus
Dear fellow redeemed,
What exactly do we see here on the Mt. of Transfiguration. Jesus’ appearance is transfigured. For a moment, He appears, not in lowliness, but in divine majesty and glory. His body glows and shines like the sun. A human body cannot do this. Even with the daylight shining in the windows, you are not helping making it any brighter, but we require lights to make it sufficiently bright in here.
But because the human nature of Christ, including the human body, is so united to His divine nature, His divinity causes His human flesh to shine brightly with divine radiance.
What else do you see there? You see two men speaking with Jesus. They are Moses and Elijah! Moses was the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. On Mt. Sinai and at the Tent of Meeting, he conversed with God as close friends would speak to one another (Ex 33:11). Elijah was another great prophet. He was the model prophet, the likes of which would come again in the New Testament, and that was John the Baptist.
They were there as they are in heaven. They appeared displaying a glory of their own. They do not have bodies, for they still wait for the resurrection. But they were recognizable to each other and were discernable to Peter, James, and John. Their appearance shows that they are not dead, but they live in the life to come. For Jesus said at another time, “[God] is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Luke 20:38). They show that for all those who are in the Lord, death and sin are conquered; they dwell continuously in the presence of the radiant glory of Christ.
This sight is given for the benefit of the disciples that they may be guarded from the offense of the cross, which they would soon encounter. They are given a very clear display of Christ’s divinity, that they would remember His divine will and might and His divine and trustworthy word that He would again rise. Though they would forget, and they would get offended by the cross, fleeing their Lord in fear and sadness. But after Christ is risen, this vision on the Mount strengthened their faith in Christ, as Peter testifies in our epistle reading today.
Jesus’ transfiguration is recorded for us that we may be assured that the One who suffers and dies on the cross is true God, so that we may be confident that His sacrifice is sufficient for the salvation of the whole world.
The sight is important, but what we must also pay attention to is the conversation taking place. What do you hear? What is the content of this heavenly conversation?
Many people might, at the death of a loved one, say that the deceased is still with us, and that they are watching over us, as though the things of this world and the lives of loved ones are the topics of the deceased concerns. But there is no scriptural support of this. The souls of the dead are no longer with us, but are either with Jesus in heaven, or are suffering in hell.
Instead what we find in Scripture are instances where the heavenly conversation is about the work of the Messiah. Matthew, in his Gospel, didn’t mention the contents of the conversation, but Luke did. Luke said that they spoke of “[Jesus] decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” The Greek word for decease there is exodon, and so a proper translation would be “His exodus.” They were talking about the exodus that Jesus would fulfill in Jerusalem.
They are referencing back to the Exodus, where God saved His people with the blood of many lambs. Death passed over them who had the blood of lambs painted on the door lintels, but He struck down the firstborn of those of Egypt, and in this way He redeemed His people, delivering them from slavery in Egypt, and began leading them to the promised land in Canaan.
Moses and Elijah, speak of what Jesus will soon be accomplishing. Moses and Elijah, and all the Old Testament prophets foretold these things, and now they are about to take place. Jesus will be accomplishing His exodus in Jerusalem. He will become the Lamb, whose blood will be shed to save the world from slavery to sin, death, and the devil.
Shameful and lowly suffering and death seem so far distant from the sight that was before the disciples. Jesus displayed such vigor of life and shined in glory. How could this happen?
This Gospel text bids us not just to see the divine glory of Christ, but also to listen to Him. Peter had trouble with this. Not long before this event, Peter tried to stop Jesus from going to Jerusalem to suffer and die. He didn’t want to let it happen. And now on this mountain, He is captivated by the vision of Christ in glory, he wants it to remain. He wants to remain on the mountaintop and continue to enjoy His glory. This is what he suggests.
But God the Father interrupted Peter’s request. In way, God is saying, “Stop talking, Peter. You do not know what you are saying. But I do want you to know this, that this is My beloved Son. Hear Him.”
Hear Him. Listen to Him. Pay attention to His words. This is God’s desire for Peter and the disciples. This is God’s desire for us. Pay attention to His words.
We sinners have a tendency to seek glory. We want glory for ourselves, even the glory of accomplishing our own salvation by our works. We want others to glorify us. We want the glory of an easy life. We want a glorious Church, mighty and powerful in the world. We want a glorious Christ, who makes His glory and power known in the world, but instead, shortly after He rose in glory, He caused His glorious presence to ascend from the world, and instead left us with the lowly Word and Sacraments, through which He would rule the Church and expand His kingdom on earth.
The glory will come, dear believers. The glory seen in Moses and Elijah is proof of that. But while we remain on the earth, we listen to the Word of Christ, remembering that this this is the Word of the divine and majestic Lord Jesus Christ, the very beloved Son of God.
Listen to Christ, and His Word. Behold, it points you to the cross! Paul understands this, because he said, “I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). Our eternal life and our life as Christians here on earth is not centered on glory, but on the cross. It is by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and His innocent suffering and death on that cross, that our sins are forgiven, and eternal life is won for us. No blood of a lamb or of a man can do it, but the blood of the divine Son of God is sufficient to deliver us from the bondage of sin, death, and Satan.
Our life is a life under the shadow of the cross. It is marked by difficulty, sorrow, wrestling with the sinful flesh, dealing with the godless world, and enduring the weariness of the shadow of death, but listen to the Word of Christ. He has given you His word of spirit of life to strengthen you and encourage you. He doesn’t point you to His glory, but His word points you to His cross. There you see His glorious love for you. For the sake of that cross, you can know that He has delivered you, and that deliverance and His victory, and the glory of being His dear saints is yours even now, though it doesn’t appear that way now. The Word of God will bring you into the glory of the promised Land, where you will with all the saints praise the Lamb for His exodus which He accomplished for you. This is true. Jesus says so. Listen to Him. 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.