Devotional Message: The Transfiguration of Our Lord (3/3/2019)
2nd Corinthians 3:12--4:2
St. Luke 9:28-36 [37-43a]
Prayer of the Day
Holy God, mighty and immortal, you are beyond our knowing, yet we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Transform us into the likeness of your Son, who renewed our humanity so that we may share in his divinity, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Text for This Sunday
9.28 Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.29 And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35 Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” 36 When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
[37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 Just then a man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 39 Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. 40 I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astounded at the greatness of God.]
St.Luke 9:28-36 [37-43a], New Revised Standard Version Bible ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
Message: The Man in the Middle
Three men on a mountain up on Calvary
And the man in the middle was Jesus
He died for you and me
Singer-Songwriter (and member of the “Hot Mud Family” band) Tom (“Harley”) Campbell wrote “The Man in the Middle” — and it has been a must-know song for bluegrass musicians now for at least three decades. It is a song about Holy Week, of course, but the chorus could just as well be about Transfiguration Sunday. There are a number of parallels between this Sunday’s Gospel lesson and St. Luke’s version of the Passion story. Jesus is high on a hill. He is seen in his glory with two others (during Holy Week: both the two criminals who died with him, and the “two men in dazzling clothes” who stand inside the empty tomb on Easter morning). There is something strikingly brilliant about their appearance. And perhaps most importantly, the focus is on “his departure, which he is about to accomplish at Jerusalem” (v. 31) Shrouded in glory on the mountain of transfiguration, Jesus and Moses and Elijah discuss what he is about to accomplish in Jerusalem, when believers will see him in his true glory.
There is another parallel at play in this text. The New Revised Standard Version Bible uses the word “departure” but the original Greek word is ἔξοδον (exodon). For the first century Hebrew believer there is no more central of a Biblical story than the exodus. Through the waters of the Red Sea, God worked through Moses to lead the chosen people into a land of promise. The exodus is both a sign of God’s gracious intent to save Israel, and a fulfillment of the ancient promises made to their ancestor, Abraham.
The Transfiguration gives Peter, James and John a glimpse of Jesus’ glory in a way that ties it to God’s saving work in the past (the exodus) and to God’s saving work in the future (the death and resurrection of Jesus). What they are about to experience when they arrive in Jerusalem will be as extraordinary as what the people of Israel experienced when Moses led them through the waters.
Similarly, we are connected to the past and the future whenever we gather to proclaim God’s word, and celebrate the meal Christ establishes for us. God creates a new Exodus among us, and unites us with all those who have found (and who will find) forgiveness, strength and hope in the word and in the Eucharist. As the disciples were fed and inspired by their mountaintop experience with Jesus, so too we are fed and inspired by the presence of Christ in the word and the meal.
So come join God’s people for worship this weekend. Be touched by God’s saving act in the Exodus and in the Resurrection. Receive the gift of God’s forgiveness, and be strengthened by Christ’s presence, to live as his faithful followers in the world today.
Three men on a mountain, up on Calvary, and the man in the middle was Jesus: he died for you and me. Amen!
David J. Risendal, Pastor
Exploring This Week’s Gospel:
What is the significance of Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah on the mountaintop?
In what ways are the Exodus and the death and resurrection of Jesus similar?
What was wrong with Peter’s instinct to stay there and memorialize the occasion?
Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:
When I have felt as thought I was in the presence of God?
How did that experience strengthen me for what was to come?
Strengthened by the meal this week, to what faithfulness is God calling me?