Pastor Jeremy Husby delivers a sermon entitled “Jesus-The Dazzling Deity” based on Mark 9:2-9 at Peace Lutheran Church in Hartford, Wisconsin.
Delivered: Sunday, February 11, 2017
Throughout this Epiphany season, the readings you’ve heard, the songs you’ve sung, and the pictures your mind’s eye has seen have all been focused and centered on one thing: revealing Jesus to be the God-man who came into the world to be its Savior.
Today, on this last weekend in Epiphany, the theme is no different. And, really, that shouldn’t be too surprising considering the Gospel reading that you heard just a few minutes ago. Showing to his disciples a glimpse of his heavenly glory, Jesus transfigured before them. He trans—or changed his figure—or his appearance. His clothes became whiter than anything you’d see in a Superbowl Tide commercial and, according to another accounting of this occasion by the evangelist Matthew, his face even shined like the sun.
Yes, Jesus is God. If nothing else, that sight alone should have convinced Peter, James, and John of that fact. The same is true for anyone who has read or heard this account.
And yet, even as amazing and clear as that would seem, apparently the sight of the transfiguration was not the main attraction of this mountaintop event.
Peter wanted to stay up on that mountain. And you can certainly understand why. He saw two Old Testament prophets, who lived a little under and a little over a thousand years earlier, talking with his transfigured Savior.
Filled with wonder and amazement, without knowing what to say, but, because he was Peter, speaking anyway, he said “It is good for us to be here.” But, before Peter could finish his nervous rambling, God the Father stopped him. This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!
Rather than what Peter and the brothers, James and John, were seeing with their eyes, the Father wanted them to focus on what they had heard with their ears. What, in particular, was he directing them toward?
The answer to that question is hinted at with 3 little words that are somewhat easy to overlook in the gospel reading for today—the first three words recorded in your bulletin for today: After six days. Well, six days after what?
At the end of chapter 8 in Mark’s Gospel, the evangelist notes that [Jesus] then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.
He did not say that the Son of Man must sit at the head of the banquet table and feed you by multiplying bread and fish to feed you every day or to change the world’s water supply into wine for you to drink.
He did not say that the Son of Man must stand at the entrance to every emergency room and heal every disease, open all the deaf ears, give sight to all the blind, or make all the lame to walk again.
He did not say that the Son of Man must manipulate the algorithms on Match.com to pair you up with your soulmate or sort through the classified ads to find the occupation that fits your gifts.
That, though, is where, like Peter, it is so easy to get caught up in what you see. Because, in truth, sometimes, Jesus does bestow those blessings, and many more miraculous signs and wonders, upon you.
And that is the Jesus that, so often, you want. That is the glory that, so many times, you would rather bask in. But, friends, that is also the sight that Satan and your sinful nature secretively seek for you to yearn for.
Why? That ancient serpent and the original sinful selfishness inside of you wants you to focus on the stuff that is outwardly pleasing to the eyes because they have nothing to do with your eternal life or getting rid of what prevents you from entering into it.
Listen to him! The revelation of Jesus as the God-man who came into the world to be its Savior is not found in fancy clothes. Yes, Jesus performed miracles that proved his power over his creation, his supremacy over evil, and his absolute authority over sickness and disease. But, he did not come to be your Savior from hunger and thirst. He was not anointed and appointed at his baptism in the River Jordan to be your Savior from sickness and disease. He came to save you from the hell that you deserve because of your sin.
The revelation of Jesus as your Savior comes, instead, in the sights that hurt your eyes and your hearts; the stuff that makes you turn away in shame and disgust. Jesus’ revelation as the dazzling Deity comes in the only One who was without sin taking the sins of the world on himself and receiving the punishment that was due them. It comes in his bleeding hands, feet, and side. It comes in what he said to his disciples—in what he was about to, and later did, accomplish with his perfect life on the cross of Calvary. He sacrificed himself there to save you from the punishment that your compliance to the Devil’s temptations and your innate self-centeredness cause you to deserve.
When you are in the deepest pits of despair over your own sin or the painful consequences of life in this world so filled with corruption, the fiery darts of the Devil will come at you. They will try to force your focus on receiving some sign from your God that you can see to prove to you that he is your God and in control of your life.
Stop looking and start listening! The Son of God reveals himself to be the One who saves you from this world that is temporary and will bring you, instead, to the world that is without end. The world without evil and pain and suffering and sickness and disease and loneliness and depression and worry and anxiety and sadness—where he will wipe away every tear from your eye.
Over the next seven weeks, both at our midweek and weekend services, you are going to hear a lot about Jesus. You are going to hear about him suffering. You are going to hear about him dying. You are going to hear about his Passion. You are going to hear about his glory. Listen. Hear that the very Son of God, himself, was hung on a cross next to criminals, suffocated to death, and was buried in a tomb that was not his own. Listen to your dazzling Deity tell you, with holes in his perfect hands, feet, and side, that it was all done for you—to be your Savior. Amen.