Seeing God’s Glory
In the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dear Friends in Christ
Can You Blame Peter?
“Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” Can you blame Peter for wanting to stay on the mountain with Jesus? He had had a difficult week and the future was not looking all that good.
That week Jesus had asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered Peter saying, “Blessed are you, . . . for my Father has revealed this to you.” Peter must have felt very good that he had given the correct answer.
Peter’s joy however did not last very long. Jesus describe to Peter and the other disciples what it meant to be the Christ. Jesus said, “that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed.”
Peter’s response was to rebuke Jesus saying, “This shall never happen to you.” What Peter heard next must have crushed him. Jesus said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God but on the things of man.”
Although Peter had called Jesus the Christ, it was not yet clear to him what that meant. Peter did not understand that being the Christ meant that Jesus must give himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Jesus was not making sense to Peter.
Peter went from a hero of faith to a spokesman for Satan. What a week he had and now he found himself on a mountain with Jesus. This was more like what Peter wanted from Jesus. He was looking for Jesus to display the glory of God and not to talk about a Christ who must suffer and die.
Jesus took Peter, James and John with him to a mountain. There the heavenly Father revealed to them what his Son would look like on the day of the resurrection. The whole appearance of Jesus was transformed. He stood there with Moses and Elijah who had spoken about his coming as the Christ.
Jesus stood in front of them in all his glory. He was truly “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Yes Peter wanted to stay there on the mountain and not go down to face the world. It was a moment of rest from the future. It was a time of joy and peace.
Don’t We Wish
Are we much different than Peter? Don’t we desire every moment of our lives to be a moment on a mountain of transfiguration for us? Don’t we wish that every moment be a moment of rest, joy and peace?
But like Peter we cannot stay on the mountain. Peter came down from the mountain and was confronted with the sound of the rooster proclaiming Peter to be a sinner who must repent. Peter took up his cross giving up his own life as a martyr who confessed that the Christ on the cross truly is the Son of the living God.
As Christians, we enjoy moments of rest and joy and peace in our life. There are moments here in this building where a Scripture verse or hymn or the taste of bread and wine give your conscience rest and assure you of God’s love.
There are moments in life when the blessing of a parent or spouse or child give you joy. Peace comes in moments of suffering or illness or grieving when a friend or a pastor gives you comfort with a reminder of God’s love.
But like Peter we don’t live most of our lives in those moments. We all go the way of Peter. We hear and know that we have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Our relationships with family and friends are not every moment glorious and joyful.
We do not stay here in the Divine Service all week long but we must go to work, to our neighborhoods, to the world where peace is not a sure thing. We must go home to do the dishes and the laundry, we will have arguments with those we love, and our bodies will decline until death comes.
Listen To Him
Peter and the others did not know what to say as they faced leaving the mountain. They feared life after leaving this holy place where they saw the glory of the Son of God. Then came the voice of the heavenly Father saying, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” What were the disciples to do? They were to listen to Jesus.
We too are to listen to the Son of the living God. We are to listen to Jesus when he tells us that he had to suffer and die on a cross as the sacrifice for our sins. We must hear that he was forsaken by his heavenly Father in our place. We are to listen to the messengers of Jesus who said to the women on Easter Morning, “Why do you seek the living among the dead.”
On the Mountain of Transfiguration the disciples saw only a glimpse of Jesus’ glory. On Mount Calvary they saw his full glory. As Jesus’ lifeless body hung on the cross, his disciples saw a God who loved the world so much that he gave his life as a ransom.
The glory of Jesus is seen in these words – “he came not to condemn us, but to save us.” Jn. 3:17 Only days before his crucifixion some Greeks came to the apostle Philip and said, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” When Jesus heard this, he answered, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
Jesus was speaking of his suffering and death in which the glory of God would be shown in a way that the world cannot understand. God shows you his glory in the giving of his Son to die for you. This is the glory that is given to sustain you while you live in a world where you only see moments of rest and joy and peace.
Not Taken Up
Jesus does not take you up to a mountain to show you his glory. He comes here to you to give you moments of rest and joy and peace. But for the most part you are in the valley of the shadow of death. Jesus does not take you away to be with him but rather he comes to be with you and he goes with you into that valley.
Jesus comes to you in his glory when you hear that your sins are forgiven. He comes to you in the liturgy and hymns of the Divine Service as the one who did not spare his own life but gave it up for you. Jesus comes to you when you receive his very body and blood that was given and shed for you.
Like Peter you and I live in the world where we must bear the crosses given to us, face our duties, and endure our weaknesses and failures. But you and I do not go alone for Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God is not bound by this place. He goes with us and he will remain with us as we live this life.
Jesus has promised to be with you until the very end of your life or until the end of this world. He promises to comfort and sustain you so that you fear no evil. The glory of Jesus is seen in his mercy and grace toward you. The glory of Jesus is seen in his willingness to sacrifice his own life so that you can live as God’s precious child.
We give thanks that the Lord has revealed his glory to us in such a way. We give thanks for the forgiveness of our sins and the promise of the resurrection of our bodies so that we may live forever in the presence of Christ, the Son of the living God.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
SOLI DEO GLORIA