“The Glow” – 02-10-13 – Transfiguration Of Our Lord – Cycle C

Listen to the sermon here:

Scriptures:     Exodus 34:29-35     Psalm 99     2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2     Luke 9:28-43a

Moses glowed.  Jesus glowed.  We can glow.

Moses acquired a glow when the Lord called him to the top of the mountain called Mount Sinai.  When Moses came “out” from being with God, his face shone.  This “glory” was so obvious, so great that the people, who were waiting at the foot of Mount Sinai, were afraid.  After, Moses delivered the message from God, Moses placed a veil over his face to subdue the strong glow.  When Moses was again called to come to God on the mountain, Moses removed the veil.  When he appeared again, there was that magnificent glow.

Do you know, or remember, what Moses was receiving and delivering to the Israelites?  It was the honorable Ten Commandments.  Did the commandments bring the glow?  I think not.  It was being in the presence of God.  It is the reflection of the glory of God.  Moses was the connecting link between God and the people.

Then years later, we had another “glowing.”  Jesus glowed on the mountain where he took James and Peter and John – the three disciples which were especially close trainees.  Jesus was not going up the mountain to gain new commandments.  Jesus was called to this mountain by God to be in prayer first.

Then, this became a  great confirmation event – a confirmation of this secret thread held in scripture from the first declaration, “Let there be light!”  Moses, our Old Testament law-giver, and Elijah, a powerful Old Testament prophet, known as the restorer of all things, appeared with Jesus at this transfiguration scene.  Moses had died and was buried..  Elijah had vanished in a chariot. But here they were!  When Jesus was transfigured, when his face shone with the glory of God, Moses and Elijah also glowed in the reflected light from Jesus.

The real confirmation came with an all-encompassing cloud and the voice of the Father saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”

Awesome intrigue continues.  Elijah was the prototype (sometimes called “type”) for John the Baptist.  Elijah had to flee from the domination of Queen Jezebel; John the Baptist lived with the domination of Herodias, wife of the ruler.  Then, John the Baptist lost his head as a type for Jesus who would sacrifice his life in the on-going plan for our salvation.

Then there is this “name thing.”  The successor of Moses was an assistant named Joshua. Elijah’s work was assumed by his trainee named Elisha which also means Joshua.  The Hebrew version of the Greek name “Jesus” is “Joshua.”  This Jesus/Joshua accomplished the exodus of our sin, thereby fulfilling the work of Moses and Elijah in God’s scheme of things.

But, speaking of prototypes or types in this drama that leads to Christ, do you know about a person named Melchizedek?  Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High, brought blessing and bread and wine to Abraham in Genesis 14:17-20.  He is a type for Jesus.  Melchizedek disappeared until David the King writes about him in Psalm 110.  David, inspired by God,  wrote Psalm 110 as a coronation psalm for the Messiah who will serve in the tradition of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4).  “… ‘You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.’ ”

The author of Hebrews in the New Testament, brings Melchizedek into the picture again, tying the ‘type of Jesus’ to Jesus himself.   Chapter 5:5: “Although he [meaning Jesus] was a Son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”

In Hebrews 7, we are told that Moses and his brother Aaron represent the Ten Commandments as well as additional laws for life.  Aaron was designated as belonging to the tribe of Levi, great-grandson of Abraham.  The tribe of Levi was chosen to be the priestly tribe, more concerned with obeying laws than about salvation.  But now this Jesus, in the type of Melchizedek, is declared by God to be the priest of eternal salvation.

Does this mean the law is meaningless now that we have Lord Jesus as our eternal salvation?  Exactly not.  The law still has its place in our earthly living.  That is precisely why Moses appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration years after Moses had died.  Everything that has gone before in the plan of God moves to this culmination, this exclamation point in our faith history!  The glow moved forward from the dawning of earthly existence, to Moses, to Elijah, to Jesus, and, yes, to us.  We shall be the link to what comes after.  There is a glow for us.  People in our own day and age are known to have this glow.  If the person is in communion with God and is doing God’s work, we may see the glow.

Just think of the glow that we will feel and see when we are called into the heavenly sphere.  We expect to be overwhelmed by the light.  Maybe we will need veils.

Meanwhile, if we desire to have this glow, how will this happen?  When Moses glowed it was in conversation with God.  When Jesus glowed at the time of Transfiguration he had been on the mountain in prayer.  Does that give us a clue?

Paul has some amazing thoughts in 2 Corinthians 3:12 and forward.  Paul is saying that the glow on the face of Moses could not have a great effect on the Israelites because they had hard hearts.  It is as if a veil is covering their hearts.  Paul is saying that Christ is the one who softens hearts.  That is why no veil was needed when the light of God flowed through Jesus and even reflected to Moses and Elijah on that day on Mount Hermon which became the Mount of Transfiguration.  It is through Christ that we receive the light.  Hear Paul, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”

What Paul says next really speaks to me about freedom!  Why has it taken all of these years for me to have this verse jump into my conscience with such release?  Listen!  “We have renounced the shameful things that one hides…”

Do you regret things that you have done or said or thought – things that you would never tell anyone especially because now you and I, on the surface, are seen as being close to God?  Well, we are closer to God.  Each day we depend on his presence to sustain us, to guide us, to give peace to us.  But some sins just sit there and nag at us.  Shame on us!  Absolutely, shame on us!  Give these sins to Jesus.  We should just be thankful that these sins were not worse.  I truly thank God for his protection at the time of these sins so that they were not far worse or even a little worse.

Yes, Lord, I thank you for your protection until you brought me to my senses; until I learned that you are the sole source of true living.  It is your ways of gentleness and confidence and restraint that bring contentment.  True contentment.  Our sins are gone.  We can glow.  We can look into Paul’s mirror – the same mirror that hangs in our bathroom – and see the glow.  There is true freedom in this light of transfiguration; in this glow of transformation; this freedom from the baggage of sin.  Freedom to do your work, Lord.

The three disciples became free to do the work of the Lord after that transforming experience.  It is the Spirit of the Lord.  God, the Lord!  Father, Son, and Spirit – each rightly called Lord.  This Lord Spirit is mighty powerful!  That is how the glow can flow from generation to generation, from church member to church member, from person to person in the world, even between religions.

In the Luke 9 passage, when Jesus, James, and John descended from their experience, a seemingly discouraging event happened.  A father was bringing a son to be healed of an evil spirit.  The disciples who had remained at the foot of the mountain were trying to exorcise this evil spirit to no avail.  But Jesus did it very readily.  Good, we say.  But good is not what Jesus said.  He chastised the disciples for their failure.  Upon asking Jesus why they had failed, Jesus said they did not have enough faith and furthermore when were they going to “shape up.”  Wow!  Jumping to this same story in the Gospel of Mark, we read that Jesus also told these ashamed and puzzled disciples, “This kind [of spirit] can only be released by prayer.”

Staying with the Gospel of Mark, we have this statement by the boy’s father who is speaking to Jesus, “… if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Jesus did not say, “Of course I take pity on you, just watch.”  No.  Mark records the words of Jesus thus, “If you can? … Everything is possible for him who believes.”   Listen to the father’s immediate response.  “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Here we are – you and I.  It is like the kingdom which is already come but not yet in all its fullness, its completeness.  Our belief transforms us but our unbelief has not vanished completely.  It will one day!  One day our minds and hearts will be transformed in a twinkling and our glow will be in the fullest degree.  As Paul says, “… for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.  Amen