2/8/2017 1:07:19 PM
Sometimes when you prepare a delicious meal, you can’t eat it all at once. Sometimes everything a passage teaches can’t fit into one sermon. I enjoy leftovers. A good meal is worth eating twice. I hope you enjoy a couple of leftovers from last Sunday’s sermon:
Think back to your past. Was there ever a girl or a boy who was so good looking you could barely talk to them? Somehow their beauty made them something to fear. Or perhaps it was that classmate who was so intellectually above the others, you didn’t want to give an opinion around them for fear that they might think you’re stupid, or worse, tell others how stupid you are. Perhaps you have been at the gym, and you don’t want to use the treadmill next to the person training for a marathon or lift weights next to the guy benching a truck. They make you feel inferior
In a way this natural reaction of ours to that which is so far above us, explains part of what was happening on the Mount of Transfiguration. During his time on earth, Jesus hid his glory. He looked like a regular guy, an ordinary man. He was an ordinary man. He ate simple food. He never had riches or even a home of his own. Isaiah tells us, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him” (Isaiah 53:2b). But then on top of the mountain he was transfigured in front of his three closest companion, those who knew him the best. He became as white as light. Peter later would recall, “We were eyewitnesses to his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father.” For a moment, Peter, James, and John saw him as he truly is. They saw his glory. They saw his perfection. They saw his beauty. They marveled at him when he calmed the storm, but they nearly lost their minds seeing him like this. They were overwhelmed with fear and fell to the ground when God spoke. Never before had those three men felt so far from God as when they were so close to his glory.
Then it was over. Jesus touched them. They saw who Jesus was, the glory that was his, the beauty that belonged to him, and he still wanted to be with them. Not only that, he went down the mountain. He still wanted to be with all the people. He still wants to be with us, and he would die on the cross, bearing our sins, our ugliness, our weakness to make so that we could be united to him. We are united to him right now. And we will be united with him in glory forever.
I have been listening to a series of essays written by C.S. Lewis. Most are pretty good, a few truly stand out. In "The Weight of Glory", Lewis wrote, “Remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship” (as Peter seemed just as awed to see Moses and Elijah) “or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are in some degree helping each other to one or other of these destinations…There are no ordinary people” (link to essay here; the quote is on page 9).
That quote stuck in my mind because it reminded me of one of my favorite descriptions of the resurrection. “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21). Apply those words to yourself. when you feel worthless, when you feel ugly, when you feel guilty, when you don’t feel like you matter, when you feel weak, Jesus came down the mountain so that he could bring you to share in his glory. Lewis also rightly applies these words to how we look at those around us. How can anyone be beneath us? How can anyone be above us? How can we neglect to show love to “the least of these”? How can we not “go and make disciples of all nations”? Jesus came down the mountain to share his glory with them.
This final nugget closely relates to my sermon about our confidence in God’s Word. Luther applies 2 Peter 1:20, 21 to preachers and teachers today. Peter says, “20Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Luther comments, “Peter has stated the prohibition: You shall not give your own interpretation. The Holy Spirit Himself must expound Scripture. Otherwise it must remain unexpounded. Now if anyone of the saintly fathers can show that his interpretation is based on Scripture, and if Scripture proves that this is the way it should be interpreted, then the interpretation is right. If this is not the case, I must not believe him” (Luther’s Works Volume 30). Pastors have the solemn duty to study the Scriptures deeply and let Scripture interpret Scripture. At the end of every sermon, a diligent and faithful pastor can properly say, “Thus saith the Lord.” Not because God inspired his words, but because everything he has said comes directly from Scripture. Please pray for me and all pastors that we may have the wisdom and the diligence for this task. Also, pray that all Christians may have the heart of the Bereans and diligently study the Scriptures to see if what they are taught is true.
To God alone be the glory!