Sermon – Transfiguration Sunday – February 11, 2018
Mark 9:2-9 ‘A Future Glimpse’
CT: In the midst of despair and doubt we are given mountain top glimpses of our future through the cross where we are declared ‘not guilty.’
Intro: Last week at this time I baptized little Cadence. Later, as I held her and she stared intently into my face, I thanked God for all His promises to my little one as I considered all that might lay ahead for her. It’s a scary big world out there. Maybe you’ve had similar thoughts as you tried to imagine what the future might hold for your children or grandchildren. Some people seek the advice of fortune tellers, card readers, or mediums to try get a jump on the future, but I’m not convinced that knowing the future is a good thing. Remember King Saul and his visit to the witch of Endor; it didn’t turn out well!
Jesus Tells the Future: Yet, before Jesus took Peter, James, and John up the mountain with Him He told them what was in His future. He must suffer many things, be rejected by the chief priests and by the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. I wonder if Jesus flinched at the prospects of His own future; the agony and shame of a slow death on the cross, the beatings and slander. In Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane we catch a glimpse of His inner turmoil and the spiritual weight of the sins of the whole world—all those people—all that sin! Such a glimpse of the future would cause any one of us to run the other way; do anything to avoid it. How willing are you to place your future completely in God’s hand and say, “Thy will be done!”
Disciples Respond: The disciples’ response was led by Peter who took Jesus aside. “Jesus this does not need to be this way. If you can see it coming, change it!” Peter and the disciples didn’t see the necessity of the cross; they didn’t understand God’s age old promise of forgiveness—what the Christ came to accomplish for us. Even in hind-sight, for many the cross remains plain foolishness. Paul wrote that the Gospel “is veiled to those who are perishing.”
There was a young woman interviewed after seeing Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” who commented that it was about a good man who suffered terribly for no good reason. In the midst of your valleys, your sin, fears, your immediate needs block out the long-term view so quickly; the view from the mountain top; the future prepared for all who believe in Jesus Christ.
A Glimpse of the Past and the Future: On the mountain top, Peter, James and John were given a glimpse of both the past and the future. Out of the past were Moses and Elijah who spoke with Jesus as He was transfigured, blazing white with glory that is His from before the beginning of time. What a blast from the past! And yet it was the present. Jesus is Jesus. He’s was with them in flesh and blood but dazzling with whiteness and heavenly glory. It’s not just a reunion out of the past but a glimpse of the future; a heavenly reunion with Jesus in His risen and glorified body at the great wedding feast. Can you imagine being on the same guest list as Moses and Elijah? As a Christian, you are! If you’re seated beside them, what questions will you have? Perhaps that’s why Peter wanted to freeze the present. Forget about the valley, the people, their needs, Jerusalem, and the cross; let’s stay here.
But Jesus didn’t go up on the mountain to escape the past or remain in the present; He went up on the mountain for strength, to receive from His Father all He needed for the future, the valley, the road to Jerusalem, and another mountain called Calvary. Jesus’ glory was always there, but now, for a moment, it was allowed to shine through. Here at the end of Epiphany, this time of revealing Jesus, there can only be one conclusion: Jesus is the Son of God—the Christ who has come into the world to do His Father’s bidding. And these 3 disciples were witnesses for us. Peter records in his 2nd letter, “We were eyewitnesses to His majesty,” and John in the opening chapter of his Gospel, “We have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The Future Fulfilled for Us: Jesus told the disciples to say nothing of what they saw until He had risen from the dead. They went back into the valley full of human needs and the murderous desires of those who wanted to destroy Jesus and all He revealed about God and His love for the world. Along that road to Jerusalem the disciples kept losing sight of the future. They couldn’t see the glory and hope of the future for the shadow of the cross and our human fear of the finality of death.
But Jesus continued His journey to Jerusalem, the cross, and the grave for you. The cross was necessary; the forgiveness of sins flowed with His blood; the hope of your future shouted out from His empty grave. Jesus saw through the cross to the future of God’s Kingdom of Grace—to His Church—to you—to the multitudes that would be welcomed into heaven, who would receive the gift of eternal life. He didn’t try to alter the future for His own sake; He lived it for your sake, for your future.
Our Future Seen through the Cross: As you face the valleys and hills of life, the sorrows and joys that come your way, God strengthens you with more than a glimpse of the future; He’s given you His Son. Your future is not seen through a time machine or found in a fortune cookie, and it’s definitely not something to fear; your future is seen through the certainty of the cross. Through the cross you know what the future will bring; it will bring a thunderous declaration on that Last Day that Jesus indeed paid for all your sins and conquered the power of both the devil and death over you. For the present you have a mountain-top experience in your past; it’s your Baptism to remember and to live every day, dying to sin and rising to walk in a newness of life. Your heavenly Father has spoken over you saying: “You are my beloved son/daughter; you are My own!” As you gather around this altar today, you will receive the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ; truly, only Jesus with you and for you to life everlasting. That’s so much more than a glimpse of your future; Jesus is your future!