Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! In the name of Jesus, our transfigured Lord and Savior, dear friends in Christ, have you ever had a “life-changing moment”? Have you ever had an experience that totally changed the way you view something or the way you live? Perhaps you’re someone who never wore a seat belt, never took the time to put it on. You know all the statistics about the safety of wearing a seat belt, you’ve been told the importance over and over again. You knew the facts, the information but still just didn’t wear a seat belt. But then you met someone or had a close friend who had what should have been a minor accident but ended up flying through the windshield, nearly dying and had to get 150 stiches in the face. All of a sudden you decided that wearing a seat belt wasn’t a bad idea after all.
I had a life-changing moment when I was 17 years old. At the time I was driving a pick up truck for a portable toilet company and was on my way back from picking up several units. I had a terrible headache at the time. I knew all the facts and dangers about driving while you were drowsy or fatigued- it wasn’t a problem with a lack of knowledge. But as I was driving tired, head really hurting, I laid back in my seat and decided to close my eyes for just a second- give them a rest. The next thing I know I was out, I crossed the center line and was headed toward the opposite ditch and into a bunch of trees when the truck mirror clipped a road sign, smashed the window right next to me, waking me up. It could have been a lot worse. It was a life changing moment. Now whenever I’m tempted to feel sleepy while driving I don’t think of statistics or information, but just have to remember that experience, that incident and I’m fully awake.
Have you ever had a life-changing moment like that? Today we’re looking at the account about Jesus’ transfiguration. This wasn’t meant to just be a life-changing moment for the disciples, but a life-changing moment for us. We’re told that this happened “after six days.” Well, it’s important for us to learn what happened about a week earlier. About a week earlier Jesus had asked his disciples who people say that he is. They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” But then Jesus asked them, “what about you? Who do you say I am?” And Peter spoke up for the others and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” He was absolutely right! But after that Jesus began to explain to his disciples for the first time that he was going to suffer many things, be killed, and be raised to life. At that Peter began to rebuke Jesus, “Never Lord! This shall never happen to you!” So what did Jesus do? Jesus rebuked Peter! You see, Peter’s problem wasn’t so much with a lack of information- he knew intellectually who Jesus is- he confessed Jesus as God Himself- but that truth hadn’t worked its way deep down into his heart. He was rebuking God Himself!
So, six days later Jesus took Peter, James and John up a high mountain. And while he was there “he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” Glory is just beaming out of Jesus. You see, in our Old Testament lesson we heard about glory reflecting from Moses’ face- that was reflected glory from being in the presence of God, what we see here with Jesus is inherent glory, glory is streaming from Jesus. God is pulling back the veil and we’re seeing a glimpse of Jesus’ incredible, blinding glory as the Son of the Living God. Then all of a sudden Moses and Elijah appear talking with Jesus, having a conversation with Jesus. Peter is so overcome with this experience that he blurts out, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters- one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Whatever it was that Peter wanted, one thing is clear, he wants to prolong this glorious experience.
But then all of a sudden there a bright cloud that enveloped them and a voice from the cloud that said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” Now there is absolutely no doubt: Jesus is God’s very own Son, Jesus is loved and pleased with what Jesus is doing, and we are to listen to him. When the disciples heard the voice their terrified and they hit the deck, but then Jesus comes to them, touches them, and says, “Get up, don’t be afraid.” They look up and all they saw was Jesus and they head back down the mountain.
I’m going to guess that the disciples were never quite the same after this incredible life-changing experience. In fact, we know that the disciple John, years later, wrote in His gospel: “We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) And, as we saw in our 2nd lesson this morning, the disciple Peter wrote, “We were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16-18)
How is this a life-changing moment for the disciples? How is it for us? Two things: the glory of Jesus’ power and the glory of Jesus’ love. First His power. Who does this? Jesus goes up this mountain with 3 of his disciples and is transfigured before them. The glory of God doesn’t reflect off of him, but shines from Him. The writer of the book of Hebrews helps us out, it says about Jesus, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” For the most part Jesus seemed fairly normal, he looked just like us humans, he walked, he talked, he taught in the streets. But there were moments like this where God pulled back the veil to reveal exactly who Jesus is- the Son of God, with all the power, majesty, and glory of God himself. That’s what the transfiguration shows us.
Now you say, “I know that, Jesus is God, I understand that, I know that as a fact.” You get an A on the doctrine class test this morning. It’s one thing to know it and it’s another to let that truth sink deep in our hearts so it becomes a life-changing moment. If Jesus is God, if Jesus is the all-powerful Creator of the universe, if Jesus is the all-supreme ruler of all things, the radiance of God’s glory, the one who sustains all things by His powerful Word, if that’s who Jesus is, why are you so scared? Why are you so afraid about what’s going to happen tomorrow or next week? Why are you so worried about that problem that you’re facing? Why are you so anxious? Why are you so full of anxiety?
What you need is to go with Peter, James and John on this mountain. What you need is a mountain top experience. Imagine being there! Imagine seeing Jesus beaming with divine glory, He is the Son of God, He has power over all things! He has all glory. What is glory? Glory doesn’t just mean radiance and greatness, in the Hebrew, the word “glory” has the idea of weight of being heavy. You see, Jesus is God, that means all glory, greatness, weight belong to Him. But what’s going on when we’re worried? We’re giving more weight, more glory, to the circumstance instead of Jesus. What happens when you’re afraid? You’re putting more weight in whatever you’re afraid of than in Jesus. What happens when you’re anxious? You’re putting more weight in things or in the situation instead of in Jesus. But what do we see on this mountain top? Jesus has all power and all glory! Put more weight in Him! Put more weight in His Words than in your situation! He says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18) Right now in heaven the song is being sung to Jesus, “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever Amen!” (Revelation 7:12)
But there’s something else here. We could never be moved if all we knew was Jesus’ power. If God only revealed to us the power of Jesus, we would have to live in fear. We also need His love. Jesus is basking in incredible glory here and He could stay here, but He doesn’t. The power, the glory of Jesus along with the voice of God terrifies the disciples. They’re on the ground. But notice what Jesus does. He comes to them, touches them- a touch often conveys compassion and warmth- and he tells them, “Get up, don’t be afraid.” And when they look up it’s only Jesus and what happens next? Jesus goes down the mountain. What’s so significant about that? The reason He went down the mountain. Jesus knew full well what He was about to face, He knew what we’re going to look at again this Lenten season, He knew the sufferings, the crucifixion, the wrath and punishment of God that He was going endure and…He went, He faced it, He endured it all! Why so? Because He knew that there was no other way for you and me to be saved eternally, if He didn’t die. He saw you and He loved you. The Lord of the universe thought it was worth His while to come down into this world and experience infinite agony and loss just to have a relationship with you.
Now, think about it, because of what Jesus has done, God finds you to be an absolute delight. True or false? “Well true,” you say. Well, then, why are you depressed? Why are you so bothered by criticism? Why do you get irritable? Why are you so harsh? Why do you say things you know you shouldn’t say? What do you need? You need a mountain top experience. See His love- the Lord of all thought about you and went down that mountain to die for you, to forgive all your sins, because He loves you that much! Put more weight in that than anything else in life. Put more weight in what God says about you than what anyone else says about you. Put more weight, more glory in what God says: “I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you by name, you are mine, as far as the east is from the west so far has he removed your transgressions from you, take and eat this is my body, take and drink this is my blood.”
Where do you hear those things? You hear it in God’s Word. Where is your mountaintop experience? Where do you go to see Jesus’ glory- the glory of His power for you and the glory of His love for you? “This is my Son whom I love with him I am well pleased. Listen to him.” You go to His Word. God to His Word, Listen to your Savior, think about it, meditate on it, apply it to your life and it will be a life-changing moment. Amen.