“For God who said, “Let light shine out o darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6; Transfiguration Sunday; 2/11/18
When my children were younger, I remember that I enjoyed going to the grocery store in the afternoon with them, because the store gave away free samples. Free samples of chocolate eclairs (yum), chips and a new kinds of salsa, and sometimes even a new kind of pop! It kept us all happy. The samples were big enough to allow you to make a decision about the product, but small enough to leave you wanting more.
Auto dealers have learned this trick too. It’s one thing to walk around the lot and check out the prices, and maybe kick the tires. But if the salesman can get you to test drive the new model, he or she knows that you will start imagining yourself behind that steering wheel. He knows that you won’t be too excited to get back behind the wheel of your old clunker. And he’s well on his way to closing the deal! He’s given a test ride, a free sample if you will.
Today, we celebrate Transfiguration Sunday. It’s a day we remember how three of Jesus’ disciples were given a glimpse, a sample, of Jesus’ unveiled glory. In our text from 2nd Corinthians, the Apostle Paul will help us understand even more what was taking place at this transfiguration. Basically, the old was giving way to the new; the lesser was giving way to the greater. Come to find out Moses and Elijah—the Law and the Prophets—are the samples, but Jesus Christ is the real Power, true God, very God of very God, in the flesh, shining and standing right in front of them!
In our text from 2nd Corinthians, Paul refers to a time in the Old Testament where Moses needed to put a veil over his face. (We heard it in the OT lesson.) Moses had been on Mt. Sinai receiving the 10 commandments, the Law of God. He had been in the very presence of Almighty God. And because Moses was in God’s presence, His light, Moses face began to shine with the brightness of God’s glory. So much so, that the Bible tells us that when he came down from the mountain, the people were afraid to look at Moses. His face shone so brightly that it hurt their eyes to look at him. So, a veil was used to cover the brightness of Moses’ face and the people could look at him and listen.
But Paul, speaking of many of the Jewish people said, “to this day…the same veil remains unlifted.” That is, when they read the Old Testament they still don’t understand the glory of God. They still don’t grasp the grace of God, because it’s only through faith in Jesus Christ that the veil is lifted away. Only through Jesus Christ do we fully understand God.
As I was preparing for this sermon today, I began to think about how often in life we live with the veil covering the truth. I mean, how often do we live our lives as if God is not in control, and as if Jesus Christ is not with us? We fret, we worry, we doubt God, and fear the things of the world. We wonder how we will ever make it through the week ahead of us. And because we doubt God and fear the things of the world, we, like the Children of Israel of old, make reckless and sinful decisions for our lives. Dear Lord, please forgive us! Please lift the veil for us again, so that we may understand and believe that you are Lord of our life and our Savior.
Peter, James, and John saw Jesus transformed before them. They no longer saw Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter’s son. They saw the majestic Son of God, standing in the middle of the heroes of the faith, Moses, and Elijah the Law and the Prophets personified. And if that wasn’t enough they heard the majestic voice of God saying, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him!”
Jesus was taking this time on the Mount of Transfiguration, to prepare His closest disciples, for what was to come. Up to this time, they had seen Jesus, the healer, the preacher, the comforter. But, now in the weeks and months to come, they would see the One who would lay down His life for all people of all time. They would see Jesus, mocked, betrayed, spit upon, whipped, and crucified. They saw how He died, and they probably wondered, “This is the Son of God?”
But, all of this became clear on the day Jesus rose from the dead. Death was defeated. The power of sin was overpowered and Satan was defeated. Jesus is alive! Yes, this (this!) Jesus who appeared to them on the Mount of Transfiguration, is the Son of God! Listen to Him. The veil was lifted up. Now we see, we really see!
Sometimes, we, like the disciples, are also tempted to doubt the glory of God, and we fall into sin. It’s like a veil is covering our eyes too. Perhaps a certain sin in the past haunts you and you begin to believe that God could never forgive this sin. And it keeps you from a closer relationship with God and believing your sins are forgiven. But, the Apostle Paul says, “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.”
Maybe there’s a problem in your family that is really troubling. It has caused all sorts of problems. Maybe an addiction to alcohol, drugs, pornography, or some other sin and you wonder if there is any way out. And God says, “Yes! There is a way out, it’s through faith in Jesus!” Remember Jesus, the Son of God. Listen to Him. He’s not just the answer to some of our problems some of the time. He’s the answer to all of our problems all of the time. Paul writes, “For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Through God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will lift the veil. So that you will feel (really feel) that peace that passes all understanding and the forgiveness that Jesus Christ brings to life. You will begin to understand again that there is hope (real solid, sure, certain hope) for every situation of life. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. For I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
One of the great blessings of the Bible is that we see heroes of the faith go through difficulty and they overcome through faith. They were real people, just like you and me! Life was tough for them at times, and there were struggles. Paul the great apostle sure struggled. There were times in his ministry where he wondered how he could carry on. Earlier in 2nd Corinthians he wrote, “For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.” But then he writes, “But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril. And He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again!”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, He will deliver you as well! From whatever trials and troubles face you! On Him, we set our hope. “For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Sometimes, life gets pretty hard. We may have a bad day, a bad week or two at work or school. Our health or that of a loved one may be bad, but God still keeps blessing us with His Word and Sacraments. In many ways they are samples of His glory, given to us, to forgive us, inspire us, and use us for His kingdom, to keep us moving on in faith.
Beginning this week Wednesday, we enter into the season of Lent. Lent takes us in a closer walk to the cross. Our theme for this year is “Thy Will be done!” It’s a time to look at God’s Will for our life. You may wonder exactly what His will is. Although we cannot always tell for every circumstance. This much I can say for sure. Like the voice from the cloud, I encourage you to listen to Jesus. Let His Word bring light to your life, to knock out the gloom and doom so that the light in you will shine for others to see!
God grant it…