Transfiguration 2023 (Mt 17, 1–9; 2 Peter 1, 16–21)

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Moses and Elijah were seen talking with Jesus by Peter, James, and John.

᛭ INI ᛭

What a day on a mountain! It was 6 days—a Friday worth of days—after Peter confessed Jesus to be “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt 16) That 6th day Jesus took them up a high mountain, not to see “all the Kingdoms of the world and their glory,” (Mt 4) but for His musketeers to see His Kingdom and His glory.

But we are driven to something else besides what Peter and James and John saw. Sure Jesus’ “face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light itself.” Yes, “Moses and Elijah were seen by them.” Yes, they saw the bright pillar of cloud overshadow them. But we a driven more to what they heard!

They heard the Father thunder forth: “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” “Upon hearing that,” it’s no wonder why “they fell on their faces and were very afraid!” They heard Jesus say, “Rise, and don’t be afraid.” They heard Him say, “Tell no one the vision until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”

But the oddest thing they heard and saw was “Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus.” What a conversation! (I’m sure.) But what were they talking about? Of all the things Matthew tells us, he doesn’t tell us that. If we want to consider that conversation, we’re thankfully not left alone to our own idle speculation. Our sinful hearts aren’t given room to fill in the gap. “Every inclination of the thoughts of [man’s] heart is only evil all the time.” (Get 6) By the Holy Spirit, Luke helps us out.

Luke tells us that they “spoke of [Jesus’] departure”—literally His exodus—“which He was about to fulfill in Jerusalem.” (Lk 9:31) Christ’s exodus, His going out, His departure is His death and resurrection. We get hints of this from Matthew including Jesus’ command, “Tell no one the vision until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”

When we think about this conversation Jesus has about His departure, that He’s doing it with the guys who represent all the prophets, that He directs His apostles not to preach until His resurrection, we are clued into not just Jesus and His ministry, but what the entire Bible’s all about. We see—no, we hear that


(I. The Inspired preachers talk about these things.)

THE LORD AND HIS PREACHERS ALWAYS TALK ABOUT HIS DEATH AND HIS RESURRECTION. That includes His inspired preachers—the Old Testament Prophets and the New Testament Apostles. (Though our focus today is a bit more on the Old Testament prophets.) Nevertheless the Lord’s inspired preachers talk about these things: Jesus’ death and His resurrection on the third day.

This is what Peter says in 1 Peter:

Concerning [your] salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you…

The Spirit of Christ, that is, the Holy Spirit sent from Christ was at work in the prophets to tell of Christ and His Work. They did this not for themselves but the Sprit was doing this in them FOR YOU. Why is there an Old Testament, at all? For your sake. Jesus Himself also says that “[Moses] wrote of Me.”

They, of course, prophesied, the Lord promising through them, about Christ and His Work. The Lord Himself is speaking about Himself through the prophets. Specifically, His birth, His conquering of your sin, your death, and the devil by His death, as well as His resurrection on the third day. Now, the prophets did their inspired preaching in two ways.

The first is they prophesied directly of His Work. Moses says, “A Prophet like me will come.” (Dt 18) David says, “They pierce My hands and My feet.”(Ps 22) Isaiah says, “By His wounds we are healed.” (Is 53) Isaiah says, “The Virgin will conceive a Son whose name is Immanuel.” (Is 7)

They prophesied through the stories they recorded to foreshadow, prefigure the work of Christ. Isaac was led up a mountain by his father to be slaughtered. Moses pierced the Rock with a staff. Jonah was in the fish three days. Elijah ascended into heaven.

What more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets…

(II. We listen to them to have light in a dark place.)


And this is exactly why we listen to the Scriptures. They tell us of Christ, the Spirit of Christ, speaking through them. Christ speaking in them. And of listening to the speaking Christ, the Almighty Father commands us today: “Listen to Him!” Might be good to take Him literally, rather than just some subjective feeling about “listening” or “following” Christ.

We do well to not “despise sermons and His Word.” To not listen to Christ as He speaks in His Word, to put it off, to leave it for another time, moment, day is to be “stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, resisting the Holy Spirit.”(Acts 7:51) Each one of us has things that edge out, waste away the time we could use to grow our faith. Imagine a harvest season where planting was done like we plan to read God’s Word diligently…

But why? It’s because THE LORD AND HIS PREACHERS ALWAYS TALK ABOUT HIS DEATH AND HIS RESURRECTION. That’s the Story that’s told throughout the various books of Bible. From Genesis through Malachi, from Matthew through Revelation: the story is the same—Christ’s dying and rising for you to save you. (You are saved.)

2 Peter says today: “We have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

The only light is Christ who’s died and risen for you. That’s the only thing that will brighten your days, give your conscience peace in the midst of our sin, grant comfort when you mourn, pour on the balm of God’s love in a dark and turbulent world. This is why THE LORD AND HIS PREACHERS ALWAYS TALK ABOUT HIS DEATH AND HIS RESURRECTION. He give you eternal peace, hope, and comfort through His Word. This is why the Father commands, “Listen to Him!”

Listening to Jesus, actually listening to His Written Word, which we call the Bible, will do all these things. It will enliven your zeal for Jesus. It will strengthen your faith in Him. It will increase your knowledge of Him, you’ll know Him better. That’s because Christ is speaking there, speaking of His death and resurrection, and where Christ speaks, there the Spirit of Christ is at work on you: your heart, soul, mind, and strength to trust in Jesus, the beloved Son, above all things.


What a day on a mountain! It was 6 days—a Friday worth of days when Jesus was on that mountain. The mountain of mountains: Calvary. There He died for you. Three days later He rose from the dead for you. He was talking about all that with Moses and Elijah. (His transfiguration a promise of eternal life—His and yours!)


So the Father says, “Listen to Him.” So Peter says, “Pay attention!” Even more so today “Listen to Him”: “This is My body and blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.” “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” Of course we do! After all,


᛭ INI ᛭

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