Sermon – Transfiguration Sunday, March 3, 2019
Text: Luke 9:28-36 ‘Photo Op’
CT: There are many moments in our lives we want to capture for the future. The ‘photo op’ at Jesus’ Transfiguration points us to the greater picture of God’s love for on Calvary putting all the other moments into focus.
Greeting: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Intro: Most of us have a collection of photos around our homes, all framed and placed where we can see them. They’re photos of weddings, family occasions, or maybe a special vacation. A picture of a warmer day with people gathered on a beach or sitting in an open boat reminds us that while it might be winter; warmer days are coming! Today, we’re as close to a camera as our cell phone—and people take pictures or videos of all kinds of events. If there’s an earthquake, a train derailment, or a tornado, someone has caught the moment on their cell phone, and it often ends up on the evening news. Cameras immediately come out when there’s an event or a day we want to freeze in time—to look at on a future date! It’s what keeps Bev Robinson running—chasing all those ‘megapixel moments’—hockey games, weddings, family reunions…And we’ve got so many ways to share them now; you can email them, facebook them; just push send on your cell phone, and it’s out there, but we don’t always know who’s looking at them.
Mountain Pics: In our Gospel lesson, Peter, James, & John were suddenly faced with what we’d call a ‘photo op.’ Jesus took them up a mountain to pray and the disciples fell asleep, but they woke up with a start! Jesus was changed! His face was altered and His clothes were brilliant, and Moses and Elijah were talking with Him. We’re talking about Moses, the one who handed down the Law from God and the great prophet, and Elijah who was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets. Struggling to make sense of what they were seeing, Peter fumbled for his cell phone camera, but the two men were leaving. So Peter asked them to wait; he needed time to put everything in focus. “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” The disciples were caught so off guard that Peter didn’t even know what he was saying, never mind have the where-with-all to upload a video to Youtube!
The Whole Picture: An insurance adjuster advised that everyone should have a camera with them in case of a fender bender, and take pictures from every angle possible; because later you’ll see things you didn’t catch in the moment; because you’re caught off guard, surprised, or shook up, and we don’t’ see the whole picture! Peter, James, & John still didn’t see the whole picture. The big picture was wrapped up in the conversation about Jesus’ departure which He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem. Quite literally, they were talking about Jesus’ ‘exodus’—about His suffering, death, burial, and resurrection. They were talking about another mountain—another ‘photo op’; Mount Calvary and the cross.
Jesus’ Exodus: No number of mega pixels could ever capture the significance of this event. Jesus’ exodus was the way of the cross to defeat the slavery of sin, the devil, and even the power of death, just as the first exodus brought all of Israel with Moses through the waters of the Red sea to a new life on the other side, drowning all the powers of evil behind them. And now we too share in Jesus’ exodus through the waters of our Baptism where we are joined to Jesus’ death and resurrection. As Paul asks in Rom. 6, “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through Baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Each day of this new life is made up of dying to the old and rising to the new, living for what faith sees and reason denies.
God’s Photo Op: But the ‘photo op’ quickly disappeared in the cloud of God’s presence as God’s Word now gave the whole picture context and relevance. We too like to hang on to the special moments in our lives and we often find ourselves fumbling for our cameras and wishing this special day would never end, not seeing how this day—this moment—fits into the bigger picture of life. We like the disciples struggle with limited vision, not always understanding the fullness of who Jesus is. Sin in our lives veils our vision keeping us from seeing the whole picture. It robs us of the assurance we have in Jesus for today and often keeps us from living the life that God has in store for us.
But the words that give this picture context are those of God the Father repeating familiar words; words we heard some 7 weeks ago at Jesus’ Baptism. “This is My Son, the Chosen One; keep on listening to Him.”
No Picture: No camera—no picture—what do we say? The disciples’ silence betrays their confusion and lack of understanding. Their vision was still limited, leaving them in the dark until the dawn of Easter morning. Only then would they see and understand the glory of God is Jesus Christ; God’s glory veiled in human flesh that He might give His life in exchange for ours. Then the ‘Big Picture’ would make sense, but only by the power of the Holy Spirit would they be able to build on that Mount Calvary/Easter morning moment and take it with them that others also might know who Jesus is; that others might get the ‘Big Picture’ too; our need for a Saviour and God’s gift of His Son.
Our Photo Op: Yes, God’s big picture includes you and me! Our Baptism is one of those ‘photo op’ moments where God’s promise of forgiveness for living becomes ours. And it’s a moment when we often take multiple pictures that we might remember it. But not just when we pull out the old photo album or run a slide show on the computer, but every day. You can start every day by making the sign of the cross and remembering whose you are—who has called you His own.
And yes the glory of God now dwells in us but that’s not the whole picture. We have a life to live with our Baptism before entering into glory. We don’t skip from the wedding photos straight to a golden anniversary. There is 50 years of knowing another person, and many ‘photo ops’ in between that bond a husband and wife together. Things don’t always work out the way we want them to and there are pictures we would rather not remember. That’s why God provides mountain top ‘photo ops’ for us along the way. We come here on Sunday, to the mountain top, to be with Jesus and to hear His words of forgiveness for living. And whenever we dine at His table, He tells us He is truly present, giving us of His own body and blood for the forgiveness of sins; forgiveness to live by. God’s glory comes to us veiled in simple means that we, by faith, might see what reason cannot.
Sum: By God’s goodness we will witness His glory working in you and me this week. Don’t worry! People won’t be rushing for their cameras because you’re glowing in the dark. The glow of God’s glory will come from inside us. The forgiveness that we have received frees our minds, our hearts, and our hands to treat others differently – that others might see who Jesus is, as God’s ‘Big Picture’ takes shape in our living. We leave here today knowing that God has included us in His family photo album. Through our Baptism the precious moments of Jesus’ cross and empty tomb are now part of who we are. And it makes all the difference in the world as we leave the mountain top moments of our lives to enter the plains and the valleys that lie ahead. We go by the grace of God knowing that Jesus’ glory is now our glory.
Votum: “And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”