Glimpses of the Glorified Christ/Heaven
February 21st & 22nd, 2009
If someone uses the term “boy he or she is sure in her glory” usually that individual is enjoying himself, and he is at his best in that moment. Imagine for a moment you are in a situation where someone says boy “__________” is sure in his/her glory”. What would you be doing? Would the individuals making that statement also be smiling? Today we get to see Jesus in his glory, his humanity pulled back a bit, and his divine awesome presence is there for his followers to see. Why did he become transfigured for his followers both then and now? It is that question we will be addressing in this message.
We are here in worship today for a number of outward reasons. “Mom and dad made me.” “It’s a habit “(not all bad). “Other family members are here, and it is good to keep peace in the family.” “If I don’t come Pastor or the elders may call on me.” Other reasons, hopefully the more common ones, are receiving the comfort of Christ in the midst of a life that is weighing us down. However, the only answer that really works is that in some way, Jesus has grabbed hold of your life and he is determined not to let go. Jesus had literally grabbed hold of Peter, James, and John. Peter was first grabbed by Jesus as he was fishing when Jesus said “Come follow me”, and he did. Peter then conveyed this very message to two brothers, James and John, and they also followed this Jesus. For us God’s Word also came to us through parents, friends, Sunday school teachers, in baptism. Frankly, wherever God’s Word is there, Christ is inviting and grabbing a hold of us. Through the Holy Spirit he is determined not to let go. Sadly, though one can choose to wiggle ones way out of his grasp, but he does everything to hang on to us.
Peter thought he had gotten it all down. He had been living with Jesus for some time. He had experienced evil spirits depart in Christ’s presence, leprosy was removed, the paralyzed walked, teachings of all sorts with authority. Never, had he met anyone like this. So when Jesus asked Peter and the disciples “who do people say that I am? Peter knew he wasn’t just another prophet, but rather the one and only Messiah. Then Jesus asked him “Who do you say I am”? Peter answered you are the Christ the Son of the Living God.” Perfect, end of story, a confirmation day of sorts, but then he learned that this journey would have some twists and turns he could not have expected. The unpleasant things of life happened to him, and this “certain faith” must have seemed a little less clear, at least for a time.
Jesus tells Peter, that he is going to go away from him in a violent way. While everyone flees suffering, and for good reason, Jesus said he would walk right into it. He would experience this from religious leaders, and that he would be the victim of murder itself. He would rise again, but there was no frame of reference for the resurrection for Peter and the followers, and so this was also a source of confusion. No wonder Peter “rebuked him”. After all who wants their teacher and rabbi speaking in such a way? Jesus then scolded him in return, and even called him Satan. Peter, must have thought what is going on? He may have earlier had the right answer, but he was about to learn in some very tough lessons of life. Lessons of what it meant to have Jesus as his Savior. Jesus said his life would not be one of ease, but rather one characterized by a cross and suffering, and that those who followed him would have to die to self. In addition, if they were ashamed of Jesus, he would be ashamed of them. These are some tough words, for Peter, and tough words for us. No one likes to bear a cross, and who wants to die to self? Even if we thought this was a good teaching, and it is, who wants to lead this life. For six days, Peter must have been in a daze, wondering what he had gotten himself into. Gone were the days of clarity, and joyous celebration, now he had his best friend was about to suffer, and he along with him.
Into this confusing situation Jesus wants to show his followers something very important. For us who are faced with confusion or even if our “spiritual life” is in a rut. Jesus shows pulls back his humanity, and shows them his glory. It is so grand, so great, that Peter falls on his face terrified. This is no small Jesus. The Jesus who has made a claim on your life, is no small Jesus. He is the glorified one, the one who is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. He is the one who is the first born of all creation. In our Bible study on the Book of Revelation he is described as reigning on a throne with flashes of lightening, with the people of God surrounding the throne dressed in white with golden crowns. We are to wake from our stupor, Peter is to wake from his stupor, and recognize that the God who baptizes, who feeds us in the meal, who speaks words of forgiveness, is no small God. Moses and Elijah, the greatest religion had to offer could not hold a candle to him. Leaders like Obama or Reagan, along with other famous people like Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin all were limited, and their influence though great, is nothing compared to the this Jesus. In the end Jesus is all he would see and that is all we would see. Why the transfiguration? It is given to wake us up from our slumber, and to remind us who it is we follow. Who is it that has grabbed on to us? Why it is important that we listen to him.
It wasn’t just the vision, it was the words of Jesus that would sustain him. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ”. What would these words be “This is my son whom I love; with him I am well pleased”. If God says this about his Son, then he also says it about those who are connected to him. He says this to you not only from his glory shown on the mountain, but also from his glory shown on the cross.
Think back to the beginning of the message where I asked to think of a situation where you would be “In your glory”. Now imagine that you were called away from your situation, back to your family. You have a family member who is ill, and you have not slept for days, your hair disheveled, and your work piling up. Are you in your glory? To you, it may not seem so, but to those on the outside you probably look more glorious doing this then your “earlier glorious situation”. So to with Jesus, for as important as this vision was, his true glory would come not merely in the transfiguration, but ultimately in his loving Word which flows for you and me in the words “This is my son whom I love, with him I am well pleased”, and would continue through his service that flows from Calvary to you and me. To him be glory forever and ever amen.