Transfiguration “Check Yes or No”
February 14th, 2021 – 2 Corinthians 4:6
May you receive from God the forgiveness you have not deserved, not get the bad you have, and may you have peace with God through the blood of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Love. That is what today is all about, isn’t it? Cupid’s arrow, handwritten cards, flowers, and chocolate. “Be mine, Valentine,” and all that. It is about taking one day in the year to be sure you are communicating to those you love, the simple message that you love them.
It’s a day like this, about communicating your feelings, which makes me think of the George Straight song “Check Yes Or No”. First bit of the song goes like this: YouTube Video of the song @ https://youtu.be/NHxS8wlDngI
It started way back in third grade
I used to sit beside Emmylou Hayes
A pink dress, a matching bow, and her pony tail
She kissed me on the school bus, but told me not to tell
Next day I chased her around the playground
‘Cross the monkey bars, to the merry-go-round
And Emmylou got caught passing me a note
Before the teacher took it, I read what she wrote
“Do you love me, do you wanna be my friend?
And if you do
Well, then don’t be afraid to take me by the hand
If you want to
I think this is how love goes
Check “yes” or “no”
It’s a cute song. Like all good country songs, they start at the beginning and go to other important parts in life. The song goes on to tell how now they’re grown up and married and how they are still in love with each other like two kids with stars in their eyes. He still chases her around the house like two little kids and how he just took her out in a limousine for their anniversary. They stop and think about how it all started with just a little note.
It’s Valentine’s Day. Unclear how someone feels about you or how you feel about them? Time to make it clear by reminding them.
All good country songs start at the beginning and move on to different important points in someone’s life; our story with God is much the same way. God is taking advantage of this Valentines’ Day, as He does every day, to remind you of His love for you in the past, what He’s done for you, and to send you a little note. So, let’s take a look back.
Elijah’s Role & Character
God did one better with us than George Straight’s simple little note. God sent messengers to tell humanity about His love for them – and also about His furious rage at their infidelity.
God sent prophets over and over again throughout time until John the Baptist. A key prophet, who represents all the prophets, was a guy named Elijah – God’s note bringer. He is the one we hear about this morning in the Old Testament reading.
This guy did some miraculous things by God’s power. He prophies when rain would stop and when rain would come (100% accuracy weatherman), he multiplies the food of a starving widow and her son (unheard of), he raises a widow’s son from the dead (don’t see that every day), and he delivered messages of God’s jealous love telling corrupt leaders to return to God and love Him as He deserves.
Elijah was, as we read, also taken up into heaven by a whirlwind and chariots of fire. Only one of two people we know of who were taken up into heaven by God before dying. The other was Enoch (Noah’s great-grandfather).
Elijah was prophesied to return before the great and terrible Day of the Lord happened, so we have that to look forward to.
Seems like a pretty great guy, hey? Maybe we should use Him as a role model for ourselves. Perhaps God would love us more, or we could love God better, if we were more like him? Elijah was far from perfect. He murdered a bunch of people, mistrusted God to keep Him safe when God promised He would, and he ran off to live in a cave like a big coward and begged God to kill him. Not the best guy you can imagine. Perhaps there is a better guy we can look to?
Moses Role & Character
Moses was the key guy who represented God’s love for us in the Holy Law to the people of Israel. Our epistle even says that because Moses was in God’s presence so long His face glowed with God’s glory. Surely this guy, who delivered the Rules of Love from God Himself, would be a guy we can emulate and look up to as a role model. If he was in God’s presence so long that his face shone, surely, he must have been a pretty great guy.
Well, Moses failed to convince the people to follow the Laws or to even be in the people’s presence with His face shining – they told him that he had to cover up around them. What do you expect from a guy who was a murderer before leaving Egypt and heavily resisted God’s call to him to be a leader to rescue God’s people? Moses even disobeyed God near the end of his life and was banned from entering the Promised Land.
Moses represented God’s Loving Law to the people but not the way it could be fulfilled. In essence, Moses was just a deliverer of condemnation from God even though it was not the message that was the problem – it was the people who couldn’t play by the rules. The Law Moses brought needed someone who could actually live it and provide a sacrifice big enough for the adultery of the people.
Jesus Role & Character
That brings us to the main event – the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. Up until this point in history, God’s message through Moses in the Law and Elijah in the prophets was basically one of judgement. There was hope that Elijah would come again and perhaps bring a better, more perfect message from God, or that a new Moses would come and actually fulfill the Law of God, but none of that was clear.
Here we have Jesus. He was there dropping all these hints to the Israelites around Him about who He was, but they needed the whole situation to be made “unconfused.” They needed what God was doing to be made clear. Did God really love them? Should they love Him back? They had all these Scriptures, all this Law, all these writings from God’s prophets, but they did not really know what they meant. In “love language” they were getting “mixed signals” from God. “So you love us, but you hate us because of what we’re doing, but you’ll forgive us… eventually, and you’ll give us a new heart and a perfect place to live forever with you… but not everyone… especially not those who reject you… and Moses and Elijah are somehow involved?”
If you take a moment to sit down and read the Old Testament prophets, which is often written in confusing Hebrew poetry, you’ll know what I mean.
In some situations, there is a key piece of information that makes all the difference. For example: Let’s say I have a friend. A friend who I like to go on walks with around town. Friend is a really good listener. Sometimes just spouts off for no reason at the strangest things. Definitely a hugger. But isn’t expected to make it much past 10 years old.
Sad story… What’s the key piece of information that makes is all clear? This friend is a dog! Not a human.
Ahh! All the information makes sense now, right?
Scripture Confusing & Clear in Christ
The Old Testament, God’s love messages to us for thousands of years, can seem pretty confusing if you are missing one key piece of information.
What is that key piece of information? What is the great revelation that helps make sense of all the Law and the Prophets?
Well, if that piece of information were to be revealed, that event would need to have a pretty cool name, right?
In German, Luther translated it as Verklärung – meaning roughly “beyond clear.” In English, we translate the Greek “metamorphothe” – what happens to Jesus – as The Transfiguration.
You see, what happens here is that Jesus is changed, transformed, and the very glory of God emanates from Him. What the disciples of Jesus had kind of suspected, had been made beyond clear. He is it. The one all the Scriptures point to. The voice from heaven shouting “This is my beloved son, listen to Him” added to the clarity, along with Moses and Elijah, the great representations of all the Scriptures, appearing beside Jesus talking with Him.
You see, Jesus, from what we have been told to this point taught the Law of God with authority as if He were Moses and not as any normal person. Jesus had, more than Elijah had, controlled the wind and the rain by Himself, multiplied food for thousands, and raised multiple people back to life by speaking to them a word of command.
In other words, Jesus is the guy who the prophets hoped for and the Law demanded. Jesus took on and fulfilled perfectly the roles of Moses and Elijah.
This Valentines’ Day, what does that mean for us? It means Jesus is the love of God coming to us and taking action. Jesus is the prophecy fulfilled of hope and life and love from God for all – in case you forgot. Jesus is the perfect one who fulfilled the Laws of Love and lived the highest show of love in His self-sacrifice by dying on a cross for us – because He knew we could not be as loving as we needed to be.
If you were confused by the devil, or not sure if God really loves us, look to Jesus and see Him as the answer – to everything. Jesus says, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life… it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39). Again after His resurrection He gives the best Bible Study imaginable, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself… Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’” (Luke 24:27; 44).
When God’s people asked, when we still ask, do you love us, God? Jesus, is God “checking yes” on the question. His Word and Sacraments are the constant delivering of chocolates, flowers, kisses, and love notes that show His love to us – and even more – make us worthy of being called His Bride.
It’s Valentine’s Day. In Jesus, God’s note and gift to you today is, “I love you.”
May that be enough today and always.