Saturday, February 13, 2010

“In the Presence of A Holy God” (Luke 9:33-35)

S-1168 Transfiguration: 2/14/10 (O) #20; (S) #135; (LSB 413; #416); #308; 46

Texts: Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Hebrews 3:1-6; Luke 9:28-36

Theme: “In the Presence of A Holy God” (Luke 9:33-35)

Question: “Do you know where you are?”


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Transfiguration Sunday is from the Gospel Lesson: “And as the men were parting from Him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for You and one for Moses and one for Elijah’— not knowing what he said. As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud’” (Luke 9:33-35).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

People of God, chosen and beloved, if you have ever traveled to Washington, DC., more than likely you would have had a chance to visit the National Mall. You would have seen many of the memorials that adorn our Nation’s Capital. Some are built in honor of our military men and women—the Vietnam Memorial, and others are built in honor of our Presidents. There is one building that sits on 36 columns that really draws you to it from a distance and begs you to see it. As you stand in this building, you feel awe and wonder. You feel part of history revisited. You feel alive. “Within this large stone building sits a massive marble statue of the 16th President of the United States. Above him are engraved the words: “In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.”

Certainly the memory of President Lincoln lives in the hearts of many Americans. Many appreciate this man for all that he has done for the union. And anyone who stands in front of his statue realizes what an awe inspiring place this is. PAUSE.

Beloved, wouldn’t it be grand if we had a similar edifice dedicated to our Lord Jesus Christ? I wonder how large this memorial would be. Would the tourists flock to it? Would it be built out of marble to stand the test of time?

Now there may be some who think this line of questioning might be absurd. Of course we have monuments to our Savior Jesus Christ! Isn’t that what this building is? This is a sacred space dedicated to the service that the Lord provides for us.

But I wonder if it inspires the same awe that the monument to President Lincoln does? Let me ask you few questions this morning. When you came into this building today, did you feel like you were entering a “sacred space”? Was a part of you moved to “quiet your voice” a little bit, or bow your head toward the Altar? And as you took your seats in the pews today, did you know that you are coming to a most holy place? Did you know you were entering the Temple of God where He comes to us in His Word and Sacrament? What were you expecting? Entertainment? Instruction? Beautiful Music?

On this holy day of Transfiguration, we have been gathered by the Holy Spirit in this most holy place. Luke in his narrative reminds us of the Awesomeness of this day that occurred so long ago with the disciples on the Holy Mountain. Come with me then to the mountain and hear how Luke tells his story: “And as the men were parting from Him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for You and one for Moses and one for Elijah’— not knowing what he said. As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud’” (Luke 9:33-35).

Peter, the spokesperson for the disciples’ uttered words: ‘Master, it is good that we are here’. How true it was for the 3 disciples and how true it is for us today. As we sit in this place, whether we realize it or not, we are in the Presence of a Holy God. We are not visiting a National Monument today, but rather we are standing in a most holy place—God’s Holy Temple, where He dwells among us and with us.

On that mountain the disciples—Peter, James and John beheld a most amazing sight. Jesus stands with Moses and Elijah. Jesus’ whole being is “metamorphosed” changed. His clothing changed to pure white, His face shown like the sun. And then you have to come closer to hear the conversation that is taking place between the three. Moses and Elijah speak to Him about His mission which He came to earth to fulfill—His exodus that is about His cross, His death and winning our freedom.

These disciples didn’t get it. They were overcome with fear. They put their heads to the ground and are terrified. But Jesus comforts them, as He comforts us because we at times don’t get it that when we enter this place that we are in a most holy place— in His Presence. What an awe-inspiring place to be in.

Transfiguration Sunday helps us see, understand and behold with our eyes that this man is no ordinary man and this event is no ordinary event and this day is no ordinary day. This day the disciples of old and the disciples of today saw Jesus as more than man, BUT God in the flesh. That Jesus is truly God in person.

Transfiguration Sunday is all about Christ and His faithfulness - His exodus through the Cross on our behalf!  He knew we could not understand what He was going to do; He knew that we couldn’t make the journey to heaven on our own. He knew that we couldn’t fight the fight against our arch enemy—the devil and so He came to fulfill the exodus.  Yes, the Transfiguration is about Jesus being God, and more to the point, being God for sinners, God for us, God for you, and God for me! 

Oh, my beloved, today, as we are observing and celebrating this special day, let us remember that this day shows us that Jesus is not just a man who performed miracles so long ago; but rather God in the flesh. Let us remember as we enter this place we are not coming here for Entertainments, or beautiful music, but we come here to stand in awe and wonder in the Presence of a Holy God—who takes away our sins and makes us holy. PAUSE.

Do you get the picture? The disciples did! That was really the only thing they did get! They fell to the ground in fear and trembling. When God is truly present, the proper human response is to bow your head in humble submission and tremble in reverent fear. We are sinners, and God alone is Holy beyond our imagination. He sees right through the exterior and into the darkness of our hearts – the sins of thought and desire that we hide so well from the world around us. The Holy Light and Penetrating Gaze of the Living God is enough to strike us dead and burn our sinful flesh to ash… This is most certainly true.

When we are gathered together in this place, we gather on Holy Ground. This is a sacred space, set aside for a Holy Purpose. Inside these hallowed walls, we hear the Voice of God speak through Sacred Scripture as He promised. In this place, the Lord Jesus Christ is truly present, as was on the Holy Mountain and He has promised where more than 2 or 3 gather in His name. Through these Means of Grace – the washing of water and the Word of Holy Baptism, the pardoning forgiveness of Holy Absolution; and the Sacred Feast that is the Holy Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ – God is Truly Present to touch the lives of His people.

When we gather together for the Divine Service of the Living God in this place, it is no ordinary meeting or gathering. Here we come as sinners into the presence of Yahweh Sabaoth – Elohim and Adonai… Here the Lord of All Creation hides His Glory in humble means, so that He might come to us with forgiveness instead of judgment. Here is where the messengers of God press the sacred food from the altar of Christ’s sacrifice to our lips and we are made clean… And here we hear the Word of Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, when He says, Do not be afraid” a better translation would be “Stop being afraid.”

For Jesus Christ did not come to destroy us – but redeem us all. This is His mission—His Exodus was to go to the cross of Calvary on our behalf, destroy satan and his cohorts and free us to be His forever.

We rejoice that today the Holy Spirit has brought us to this most holy temple—the presence of a Holy God. For today, Jesus reminds us again that He is God in the flesh and we have seen His glory as of the Only begotten of the Father. In 3 days, we begin our Lenten Journey. And this is so important for us to see Him now because the journey is going to be long and we are going to wonder if God can help us. And the answer of course is yes! On that mountain—the holy mountain of Transfiguration, what the disciples witnessed gave them energy and power to come from the mountain to the valley and continue to trust Him and walk with Him as they walk through the valley of death and so can we.

This is the purpose of our gathering together in His name… To hear the Good News of salvation that transforms hearts and lives; to receive by our hearing the Word of forgiveness promised by the lips of Jesus Christ. To behold the washing of water and the Spirit that is done in the name and by the power of the Holy Trinity. To take upon our hands and tongue the body and blood of him who died for our forgiveness and salvation. PAUSE.

Saints in Christ, Abraham Lincoln’s memory is cherished and remembered because He saved the union. But today, another man from Nazareth is remembered and cherished because He, too, saved the union. But the union was not an earthly power, but the Union between the Almighty God and His people. He saved you. Transfiguration Sunday reminds us of who He is and what He came to do. And like Peter, James and John all we can say is this: MASTER, IT IS GOOD FOR US TO BE HERE. AMEN.

Now the peace…


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