February 23, 2020
Pastor Richard Waldschmidt
It’s Good To Be Here Lord
I. To See Your Glory.
II. To Hear The Father Speak
III. To Preview Your Victory
Matthew 17:1-9 Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James; and he led them up onto a high mountain by themselves. 2There he was transfigured in front of them. His face was shining like the sun. His clothing became as white as the light. 3Just then, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus. 4Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you want, I will make three shelters here: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them. Just then, a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him.” 6When the disciples heard this, they fell face down and were terrified. 7Jesus approached and as he touched them, he said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” 8When they opened their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus alone. 9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Do not tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
”Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Amen
Maybe you have a spot in the God’s world that you think is the most beautiful spot in the world. Maybe it is a cabin up north or a vacation spot someplace warm or a ski slope on a mountain. Or maybe that favorite spot in the world in closer to home. Maybe it is on your patio or around your kitchen table. As nice as all those places are they really are just little tastes and previews of the heaven Jesus has prepared for us. Today in God’s Word as Jesus gets ready now to go to Jerusalem to win heaven for us, we see Jesus in His glory. We say along with the disciples, “It is good Lord to be here.” I. To See Your Glory. II. To Hear The Father Speak and III. To Preview The Victory Jesus Won.
Have the valentine’s candy in the heart shape box always been what you expected. Ever bit into one expecting chewy caramel and tasted something walnut cherry surprise? Not really what you expected right? Things had been a little bit that way for Jesus’ disciples. They had been expecting that pretty soon Jesus would be getting rid of the Roman government and that they would be sitting in high authority positions in Jesus’ new kingdom. But now Jesus was talking more and more about going up to Jerusalem to suffer and die. This was God’s plan for the Messiah to save us but it was not what the disciples were expecting. Remember Peter pulled Jesus aside when he talked about suffering. Jesus had to say, “You don’t have the things of God in mind.” There would be changes to what the disciples were thinking about what the Messiah would do. In a short period of time they were going to see Jesus tortured and killed. And so, before all that happened, Jesus takes this opportunity to show His disciples that everything was OK. This was all God’s plan. For just a few moments there on the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus pulled back the veil and let them get a glimpse of His glory.
In a week or two, our teachers will be going to Teachers’ Conference. So the students will get a little bit of a break. I never was real great in Math but I think we 2/3rds of the way through the school year right now. But there is still a lot of stuff to fit into the calendar. In God’s Word today, Jesus was preparing His disciples for the long and grueling times that were ahead for them. Jesus is at the two thirds mark in His 3 year public ministry. It had been almost non stop action for Jesus and His disciples during Jesus’ ministry. There were important things on Jesus calendar in the days ahead. Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter were coiming. In the face of an upcoming grueling schedule, Jesus took some time out to give Himself and His disciples a little rest and time for prayer in preparation for the days ahead. “Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James; and he led them up onto a high mountain by themselves.” It was good to be there. Jesus not only used this time for rest and prayer for himself and His disciples. He also used this time to show His disciples His power and glory.
“There he was transfigured in front of them. His face was shining like the sun. His clothing became as white as the light.” The other Gospel writers tell us that, "Jesus’ clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them" and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning." I’ve been to the dentist for work on my front teeth. They have a palette of teeth colors there. Dazling white like Jesus was did not appear on his color chart. Jesus appearance here is brighter than anything we could make with bleach or whitening strips- brighter than anything we could imagine.
Jesus pulled back the veil and let some of His brilliance and majesty as God show through. The fact that Jesus was true God was going to be very easy for the disciples to forget about in the coming days. Within 9 months, Jesus’ disciples would see Jesus seized in Gethsemane. They would see His slapped in the face again and again by soldiers. People were going to spit upon Him and insult Him. A crown of thorns would be jammed into his forehead. They would see Jesus stagger under the weight of the cross. Blood would stream out of His nail wounds. The breath of life would even leave Jesus’ body. Jesus’ friends might wonder, “Is he really who he said he was?” He really is! He shows them His power. He really is the God whose voice tears the mountains apart. Jesus is the architect and builder of the streets of gold in heaven. For just a moment Jesus allowed His disciples to see things as they really were. His miracles were not the work of a charlatan deceiving people with a magician’s tricks. No Jesus was indeed who He said He was, the Son of God. As Peter later wrote, "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty."
With Corona viruses and nasty accusations and stray bullets in the news seemingly everyday, maybe you are looking around this world and wondering if Jesus is in control. Maybe you are looking at the things going on in your life and wondering if Jesus really has everything in the palm of his hand. It is good to see Jesus glory in the light of the transfiguration. No matter what is going on in your life, no matter what forces may threaten us, Jesus is still the king to whom all princes and presidents will someday bow the knee.
The rumors about me are true. I really can turn my eyelids inside out. I guess that is my superpower. Now I can’t think of a single situation where ordinarily anyone would have to turn their eyelids inside out but I guess it was just sort of a “neat trick” that I could do. Jesus was not showing off a neat trick He could do when He was transfigured. He showed His disciples His Glory in order to strengthen them for the times ahead. At the same time Jesus went on to show His disciples why He had come to earth in the first place. He didn’t just come to earth to show off what neat things He could do but He came to save you and me. If he had been just showing off I don’t think what happened next would have happened. The Father speaks from heaven.
“Just then, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you want, I will make three shelters here: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them. Just then, a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him.” At the Super Bowl, they might not be about to have all of the former NFL greats present at the coin flip but they might have a few representatives. Here Moses and Elijah represent all that God had told His people in the Old Testament- all that he had promised about the Savior. It is good for us to see them there with Jesus because Jesus was the One that Moses and Elijah and all the prophets had been talking about. Luke in his account tells us that Jesus and Moses and Elijah were talking about Jesus’ upcoming suffering and death! Soon the Father would speak about that too!
But first there is some static on the line. With Jesus shining as bright as lightning, it is easy to see why the disciples were frightened and didn’t know what to do or say. Peter, who sometimes said things before he thought things, said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you want, I will make three shelters here: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Peter wants to stay up on the mountain. “Let’s build some shelters so we never have to leave this this great place and moment in time.”
But God the Father cuts him off. God did not have have in mind a tent on a mountain here on earth for us while we live here on earth. He had in mind for us to live forever with him in heaven. That’s why he sent his son. “While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them. Just then, a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him.” It was good for Peter to hear those words from the Father. Jesus was right six days earlier. Jesus was doing just what the Father wanted. With His words, God the Father assured the disciples that the sufferings and death Jesus was talking about was all part of God’s plan.
How many times in our lives don’t we let our minds and mouths get carried away with what we think God should do, how he shouldn’t let this happen or how he should intervene here or there. But God the Father’s words cut us off and remind us that God really does know what he is doing. His voice points us to Jesus the one who works out everything even sickness and heartache for His glory and our good.
“When the disciples heard this, they fell face down and were terrified. 7Jesus approached and as he touched them, he said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” When they opened their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus alone.” The bright cloud and the voice of God the Father were almost more than the disciples as sinful human beings could bear and they fell to the ground frightened out of their wits. What was coming for the disciples would almost seem more frightening. They would see their Lord, Leader and Friend carry a cross through the streets of Jerusalem and up a little hill outside of town, He would be nailed to a cross and suffer unspeakable horror. It was good for the disciples to see this little glimpse of glory. It would be a preview for them of the victory Jesus would win. In the Garden of Gethsemane, on Calvary’s cross at the tomb on Easter morning, victories would be won. Victories that tell us that chase away our fears! On this side of heaven when things are too much to bear, when we are terrified Jesus comes and calms us. “Don’t be afraid.” With his words to His disciples Jesus reminds His disciples that the victory was coming and that they had just seen a little preview. “As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Do not tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” We might wonder why there would be a command like this from Jesus. Jesus did not want this incident to add fuel to the fire of people coming to Him for the wrong reason. There was much more than a glimpse of glory that was coming. Jesus was the Son of God who came into this world to save sinners- to die on a cross so that we might live in heaven.
This past week marked the anniversary of the final service in our old church on 13th and Mitchell. We have some audio recordings of the service. Those who were there might have said, “It is good to be here.” As beautiful as the old church was, God had other things in mind for our church family. As neat as the transfiguration was God had other things in mind for Jesus than staying on a mountain. He would walk up another hill and pay for the mountain of our sin. Because of what Jesus did we will see him one day in all of his glory. Jesus’ friend John wrote as he looked forward to heaven, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Oh Lord it will be good to be there! Amen.