Last Sunday after Epiphany-Transfiguration
February 9th, 2014 A+D
St. Matthew 17:1-9; 2 Pet. 1:16-21
In the Name of the Father and of the X Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
In the Garden of Eden, in the midst of everything they ever needed, Adam and Eve desired more. Satan did not have to paint too vivid a picture for Adam and Eve to lust after something they felt God had withheld from them. God’s Word was now not enough for them. His command was over-shadowed by their desire for something new. Now, by their sin, they were separated from the one who created them, walked and talked with them, who truly loved them as beloved children. Now in their sin they could no longer bear His voice so intimately.
But in His mercy, He continued to speak. He promised redemption by His own hand for their sin. God himself would crush the head of the father of lies. Sinful lusts and cleverly devised myths would not last forever. But they would have their day. Alongside God’s Word, Satan would continue to spew his venom. And in man’s sinful nature, the lies would be more seductive than the truth.
Moses, the law-giver, was a prude and always told depressing tales of murdering brothers, devastating floods, power-hunger people, fornicating fathers, cheating family members, unfair imprisonments, and unjust slavery. The prophets were no better, they were sticks in the mud always spoiling the mood of the party. They never towed the political-party line, they had closed, narrow minds about church fellowship. No one was safe and secure in their false belief and falsely-pious thoughts. God used Moses and the prophets to expose unbelief and lies in every fashion, even when it was not popular.
But in His mercy, the Law was not all He spoke. He promised that the Messiah would come to heal diseases, raise the dead, and preach the Good News to the poor. But Satan again stepped caused you to lose hope in times of illnesses and in the discomforts of life. He points you back to yourselves to look after your own needs. And so, man, you felt the need to take matters of survival and pleasure into your own hands. Satan does not have to paint too vivid a picture for you to follow. You learned from Adam and Eve too well. God’s Word doesn’t seem like enough for you. You choose rather to rebel against your parents, teachers, and other authorities. You ridicule, belittle, and look down upon those God would call your neighbors, your brothers, sisters, colleagues, and friends. You think that you deserve more emotional and physical satisfaction in your marriages because you can read about or imagine pleasures that you think God has withheld from you. So you argue with and despise the one whom God would call your helper, your companion, your bride.
But in His mercy, in the fullness of time, God, who of old spoke to us in times past by the prophets, now speaks to us by His Son. God has something to say. And your sins, and the sins of others can’t keep Him from it. Jesus was born into our world—our back-biting, family-squabble, politically corrupt, baby-despising, pornography-ridden world. He suffered from our sins and the sins of our fathers from the very night of His birth. He was not ashamed to be born in such circumstances. It was all part of His plan. He was not a product of our sin, He was the solution, the redemption for it. He was the Word of God in the Flesh and He had something to say to mankind, He had something to say to you.
And in the flesh, in His Words and actions on earth, He did not undo or take back anything He had said before by the prophets. He emphasized and enlightened the words of the prophets of old. The Law of God was not undone, but perfected. It is not removed but completed. It still stands as God’s Word for you. But the curse is removed for all who call upon Him in repentance.
Jesus spoke on the mount of Transfiguration with Moses and Elijah, those two epitomes of the Law and the Prophets. And they stood and discussed the Exodus that Jesus was about to lead. They discussed how He was poised to lead God’s people out of slavery to sin through the waters of Holy Baptism and how He was going to feed them with the true Bread of Heaven until they came into the Promised Land. For them, there is nothing else to talk about. There is nothing else that God wants to say. Your redemption is the central topic. And anything else that the devil or other people have to say pale in comparison, no matter how cleverly devised the myth is. No matter how much your aching ears and sinful desires want to hear, God will not be overshadowed. His voice booms from heaven in order to silence everything and everyone to what Jesus has to say. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Those words are the summary of the Gospel. The summary of all that God is and has become for you.
Thank God, that in His mercy, He won’t cease talking. The devil, the world and your flesh want to bend your ear. Thy want you to be deaf to God’s Word. Your enemies, your friends, and even your own family are often misled by the tall tales, but the God of creation who had the first word will have the last word as well. He has restored you to the family. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased.” Those words that God spoke at Jesus’ baptism, He also spoke at yours. He has redeemed you from yourselves, from your enemies, from everyone who tries to hurt you. He is leading you right now out of this place of slavery, out of this valley of sorrow, to the land He has prepared for you. That holy mountain where Peter saw Jesus’ face and heard the voice is merely a glimpse of the transfiguration that will happen on the last day. The Word still shines. It is a lamp. It never fails. Through Jesus, your heavenly Father is well-pleased to call you son, daughter, child.
In Jesus’ X Name. Amen.
Rev. Michael N. Frese
Redeemer Lutheran Church
Fort Wayne, Indiana