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BETHLEHEM LUTHERAN CHURCH: | Mason City, Iowa USA | Pastor Mark Lavrenz

Feb 26, 2017  SERMON ARCHIVE

Sunday Sermon - Pastor Lavrenz Stained Glass - Communion

Grace, Mercy, and Peace to you from God our heavenly Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, AMEN

The text for meditation today is the Epistle Lesson for Transfiguration, 2 Peter 1:16-21. There we read these words: For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And 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, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Dear Christian friends: St. Peter makes it clear in today's Epistle that the Transfiguration of Jesus, both his Lord and yours, was a defining moment for him.

"We were eyewitnesses of [Jesus'] majesty. For He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory. We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with Him on the sacred mountain."

On that "sacred mountain," the Mountain of Transfiguration, Peter briefly saw with unveiled eyes the one Key that unlocked the meaning of everything else in his entire life. There he saw Jesus more clearly revealed in His power and divinity than Peter could have hoped to have ever seen anywhere else or at any other time.

It is not that St. Peter did not know about Jesus. He already knew that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of God" (Matthew 16:16); he understood that Jesus' words are "the words of eternal life" (John 6:68); he even knew that Jesus would, of necessity, be killed and raised again on the third day (Matthew 16:21).

But there on the mountain, Peter's mere knowledge of Jesus was surpassed by a much greater gift: There, he stood in Jesus' transfigured and fully revealed presence.

"We were eyewitnesses of His majesty. we were with Him on the sacred mountain." The struggles of Peter's past no longer mattered; the weaknesses of his present found themselves bolstered in the shining, divine glory of his revealed Lord; the uncertainties of his future lose all of their power, all of their fearsomeness, and all of their ability to overwhelm. There on that Mountain was a good place to be, and St. Peter said, "Lord, it is good for us to be here" (Matthew 17:4).

But St. Peter does not tell you these things merely to inform you of his great experience, as if he were showing you slides of his summer vacation or writing to you a Christmastime form letter. No, this Epistle reveals to you here and now how it is that you yourselves stand on your own Mountain of Transfiguration, and how you now share in the revelation of your Lord's divine glory in a way not unlike St. Peter beheld it.

For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain."

Stained Glass Baptism Window

And where, dear friends, where do you yourselves hear the voice of God pointing you to His Son Jesus, except in the Holy Scriptures? What are these words and what is this book, if not the voice from Majestic Glory? Just as St. Peter and his friends could not see Jesus' divinity apart from His own, deliberate revelation of it, neither can you!

The great majesty and glory of your God-the very majesty and glory that He willingly set aside for you and for your salvation-these things are only visible to you through the Word of the Scriptures, the Word of the Prophets, the Word, St. Peter says, to which "you will do well to pay attention" (2 Peter 1:19).

That which St. Peter saw on the Mountain, God has likewise revealed to you in the pages of the Scriptures, so that you may see, you may know, and you may believe.

St. Peter compares this Word to "a light shining in a dark place" (2 Peter 1:19). The light that shines is not the pages themselves, but the God made flesh whose glory illumines these pages, the same God made flesh whose "face shone like the sun, and [whose] clothes became as white as light" (Matthew 17:2).

The light of the Transfiguration and the light which illumines the Scriptures is the same Light of which St. John spoke when he said, "The light shines inthe darkness, but the darkness has no understood it" (John 1:5).

And concerning this Word and this Light, St. Peter says to you in today's Epistle, "you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:19). It is with great purpose that you pay attention to this Word-that you hold it in the fore front of your mind and make it your one preoccupation-because if this Word is light, then it follows that all other words are darkness.

"For if there were another light, apart from the Word, St. Peter would not have spoken as he did. Therefore, measure all things-all thoughts, all opinions, all ideas, and all actions according to this Word alone. If you cannot trace it to God's Word, then do not doubt that it is mere darkness" (Luther).

If the Word of your Scriptures truly is "a light shining in a dark place," then be taken captive by that Word; enslave every thought and opinion of your own to that one, illuminating Word, and once you enter the light of the Word, do not return to the darkness and futility in which you once lived.

"We have the Word of the prophets made more sure, and you will do well to pay attention to it." This, in fact, is the highest praise of God, that you allow Him to speak to you and you content yourself with listening to Him, praying as Samuel prayed, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening" (1 Samuel 3:10).

After all, consider the power of God's speech compared to the power of yours: You open your mouth and sound comes out; the Lord "lifts His voice, and the earth melts" (Psalm 46:6).

Stained Glass Confirmation Window

Again, you speak human opinions that are rooted in sin, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23); Your God speaks, and every power in the universe bows to His command.

"We were eyewitnesses of His majesty," said St. Peter, "and we have the Word of the Prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it."

Dear friends, You do well to pay attention to it because the Word alone is the source of your consolation and peace: In the Word alone do you find the forgiveness of sins; In the Word alone is the hope of deliverance; In the Word alone is the certain anticipation of your resurrection.

You cannot know that Jesus' death for your salvation was worth anything at all apart from the Word that you have been given. You cannot know that His resurrection is anything more than a wives' tale or a "cleverly invented story" (2 Peter 1:16) apart from the revelation of God's glory in this Word. You cannot have any certainty of your own forgiveness and eternal life except by what is written here.

"You will do well to pay attention to it" because here it proclaims to you "All your sins are forgiven in Jesus' name." (And where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation!).

St. Peter makes it clear in today's Epistle that the Transfiguration of Jesus, both his Lord and yours, was a defining moment for him. "We were eyewitnesses of [Jesus'] majesty. For He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory. We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with Him on the sacred mountain."

On that "sacred mountain," the Mountain of the Transfiguration, Peter briefly saw with unveiled eyes the one Key that unlocked the meaning of everything else in his entire life. There he saw Jesus more clearly revealed in His power and divinity than Peter could have hoped to have ever seen anywhere else or at any other time.

But St. Peter also points you to your own Mountain of Transfiguration, where you may likewise see the Key that unlocks the meaning of everything else in your life.

Here, in this place, gathered in Jesus' Word, you stand in Jesus' revealed presence. Here, in this place, you may say with St. Peter, "we were with Him on the sacred mountain." Here in this place, covered by the revelation of Jesus Christ, the struggles of your past no longer matter; the weaknesses of your present find themselves strengthened in the shining, divine glory of your revealed Lord; the uncertainties of you future lose all of their power, all of their fearsomeness, and all of their ability to overwhelm you.

Here is a good place to be. "Lord, it is good for us to be here.".

Christ is risen.

Luther Rose

 

Christ Is Risen
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