Luke 9:28-36, 8:22-25, 9:10-17
Sermon by Pastor Josh Van Leeuwen
Introduction by Phyllis Yearick
About a week had passed since Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ, followed by some hard words from Jesus about how following him required self-denial, complete dedication, and willing obedience. Peter, James, and John accompanied Jesus to a mountaintop to pray. As his disciples dozed, Jesus began to transform: the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became lightning-flash bright. Moses and Elijah materialized, and they spoke with Jesus about the imminent completion of his mission and departure from earth. (Interesting note from Zondervan’s NIV Study Bible: the work that Moses, the lawgiver, began was taken up and completed by Joshua; the prophet Elijah’s work was completed by Elisha, whose name is another form of Joshua; and Jesus, the Messiah, whose Hebrew name was Joshua, would accomplish a new exodus, delivering people from their bondage to sin and death and completing the work begun by Moses and Elijah.)
As Peter and the others awoke, they saw the glory of Jesus and recognized the two men standing with him. Imagine how amazing that was! Peter, so smart and insightful the week before, now blurted out his idea to put up three shelters, one for each of these three. Luke, the writer of this account, says that Peter didn’t know what he was saying, so probably in response to this awesome sight he couldn’t stop himself from babbling. But then God spoke: “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” Hush up, Peter, and pay attention! Once the heavenly voice stopped speaking, Jesus was alone and back to his normal appearance. But the disciples had gotten a glimpse of the divine, and they would never forget this moment.
It’s hard to wrap our heads around the fact that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. The four gospels are replete with stories of the lessons Jesus taught and the miracles he performed, but even when he raised his friend Lazarus from the dead he still seemed like an ordinary man. No glowing face or brilliantly white robes. Yet he spoke with the authority of God himself, and everything—from bread and fish to the stormy waters on the Sea of Galilee to the corpse in the tomb—obeyed him. Might we learn something here? If all creation listened to his voice and did as he commanded, might we also want to listen to Jesus and obey him? When he told people to love God with everything they had and to love other people as they loved themselves, might we take those words to heart?
When we are filled with the Holy Spirit at the moment of our salvation, we become God’s image bearers. We carry a brilliant spark of the divine in us. Jesus, the light of the world, shines through us, especially as we submit our wills to him and obey his commands. Emmanuel, God with us, isn’t just a reason to celebrate Advent or Christmas and then pack him away until next year. God is with us, around us, and within us every second of every moment of every day of our entire lives. We are a new creation, continually being transformed by the sanctifying love of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. And we ourselves are empowered to be his agents of transformation as we share his message of hope and redemption and life, shining his light into the dark corners of our world.
You are welcome at Westview Church! Join us this Sunday morning at 9:30 for worship (nursery care available), then stay afterward for Westview’s Annual Chili Cook-Off! Everyone is welcome!