Come To The Mountain
February 10, 2018
Verse: 2 Corinthians 3:18
Christ Lutheran Church
February 11, 2018
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
God Shines Forth
As for us, we stand with unveiled face, beholding the Lord's glory as in a mirror, being transfigured into this same image with brighter and brighter glory. 2 Corinthians 3:18
The account of the Lord’s transfiguration that we hear in today’s Gospel was a sign to the first Christians, who were almost exclusively Jewish. It was a sign to them. A sign that Jesus is the fulfillment of all the promises God made in the Old Testament. It verified for them that Jesus is God’s Beloved Son, and that to hear him is to hear God; to see him is to see God; and to be in him by Holy Baptism is to be in God.
This is a glorious truth that every Christian needs to be reminded of because we live in a pluralistic age where people believe in many gods, all of which exclude the crucified and risen Lord. All of which exclude the One who says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man comes to the Father but by me.” (John 14:6) And so we must be sober and vigilant, ever holding fast to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, lest we should fall in love with another god. Or build our house on the shifting sands of “another gospel” (Galatians 1:6) that will crumble when assaulted by the sins and sorrows that mark this present age. (Matthew 7:24 ff)
But it is not only believers who need this truth, but every person. Every man, woman and child who hopes to be saved from the wrath that is to come. Let all who have ears to hear, hear the transfiguration Gospel: “This is my beloved Son, listen to him!”
Listen to Jesus!
We heard in our Old Testament lesson how Moses ascended a high mountain where he conversed with God; and in our alternate reading the account of Elijah being assumed alive, into heaven, in a fiery chariot.
These are the two figures, Moses and Elijah, whom the Lord’s disciples observe conversing with Jesus on what St. Marks denotes, “a very high mountain.”
Any Jew hearing this account would either wrap his head in duct tape to keep it from exploding in the face of blatant blasphemy! Or he would fall on his face in worship, and declare with supreme contentment, “T’is good Lord to be here!” (TLH # 135) He would want to construct a temple there, and make this glorious mountain his happy home, from which he would never leave!
But as we also learned in today’s Gospel, it was not to be. The vision came, and the vision went, because the Mount of Transfiguration was only a “foretaste of the feast to come.” But first there was divine work to be done. First the Lord had to complete the mission for which he was born. First he first needed to: suffer many things; be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes; and be killed; and after three days to rise again in glorious victory over sin, death and Satan! (Mark 8:31)
And his disciples were chosen to accompany him all the way. So are we! And so, like them, let us, ever walk with Jesus; let us ever die with Jesus, and let us ever live with Jesus. (TLH #409)
This is what St. Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians 3:18. “As for us, we stand with unveiled face, beholding the Lord's glory as in a mirror, being transfigured into this same image with brighter and brighter glory.”
When Paul says, “we stand with unveiled faces” he means baptism. Baptism is the Grace that removes the veil from in front of our faces, the scales from our eyes, and banishes satanic darkness so that we can see, believe and cherish the very thing that is in front of us today: Jesus our glorified Lord.
But how do we see him?
How do we behold his glory?
Is it only in our imaginations that we are to see the face of our Savior? Is our religion meant to be nothing more than a devotional one consisting of personal Bible reading, scattered prayers, and pleasant thoughts about Jesus?
Or does our faith consist primarily of theological propositions to be expounded and discussed in a lecture hall while sipping Starbucks coffee, munching on organic bagels, and singing love songs to Jesus?
Or should we expect visions like St. Paul had when he was converted to the faith by Jesus himself (Acts 9:5); or when he was taken up into the third heaven as consolation for his many sufferings? (2 Corinthians 12:2) Or like the vision St. Stephen, the church’s first martyr, saw in his dying moments; when he looked up into heaven, and saw the Glory of God with his eyes, and Jesus standing at his right hand? (Acts 7:55) There have always been Christian martyrs and mystics, and blessed are you should you ever be so privileged.
Or should we look for the glory of God in the beauty of sacred song, sacred art and architecture? Of Christian literature and thought? Those are wonderful things, and a pious mind, a pious imagination that is formed by them will comfort you all your life. It will make you wiser and stronger than any enemy, equal to any task, and whet your appetite for the glory that is yet to be revealed!
All of those are part of the picture but for us, the church engaged in Divine Worship is the Mount of Transfiguration!
This is the time, and this is the place that we behold the glorified Christ most perfectly; as we hear his golden Words, sing his sterling praises, and take his glorified body onto our trembling lips – by which we are made dazzling white, and cleaner than any cleansing agent on earth could ever render!
It is here, at this altar, that our true identity is revealed. Here that we are transfigured by the Lord’s glorified Body and Blood into ever greater degrees of glory. Here that we become more and more like Christ; and there’s nothing better than that. And so come to the altar of Most High.
And be transformed. Be transfigured from misshapen, unholy creatures who have lost their humanity to sin; into the image and likeness of our Glorious God! Into a host of dazzling saints, arrayed in white, like thousand snow-clad mountains bright! (TLH #656)
T’is good, Lord, to be here!