Listen to Him – message from Vicar Edwin Shoesmith
About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendour, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his depar-ture, which he was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ (He did not know what he was saying.)
While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.’ When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.
The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. A man in the crowd called out, ‘Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.’
‘You unbelieving and perverse generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.’
Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the impure spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.
We have arrived at Transfiguration. what is it? Simply put it is a complete change of form or appearance. In our text today Jesus is completely transformed, and his disciples see this, they see his true nature you might say revealed to them. That is what the season of Epiphany has been all about, revelation, revealing and How God reveals himself to us. We might think who is God? Or even how is God at work in our life? Possibly even how is God at work in a world with so much suffering and death? Now this is not something we can just figure out on our own and we can’t climb some ladder up to God to figure it all out. Rather God comes to us and reveals himself to us in his Word and Sacraments and most completely in his Son Jesus. So, today as we gather before God, we hear his Word and witness how he reveals himself to us.
About eight days after Jesus said this.
What are all these things Jesus said eight days before? In Luke’s Gospel we read about a week before this time Jesus had asked his disciples “Who do the crowds say I am?” They replied, ‘some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; or one of prophets’ etc. Jesus turns to peter “But what about? ‘Who do you say I am?” Then Peter answered “You are the Messiah the son of the living God” then after Peter’s confession Jesus starts to tell the disciples that he is going to be arrested by the authorities, crucified, die and rise from the dead on the 3rd day. This is what he has come to do this is how God reveals himself to us. through the death and resurrection of his son. The disciples do not like that, and they don’t understand. So, the previous week before Jesus is talking about Death and suffering. To the world this looks like failure and the triumph of evil.
So, the gospel today is 8 days after all that. So now we can understand some of the reactions of the disciples.
Jesus takes Peter, John, and James up the mountain to pray
And while Jesus is praying He is transfigured and Moses and Elijah appear with him and talk to him. Let’s ask some questions, what are they talking about? We are told
They appeared in glory and spoke of his departure
which he was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem. Remember he had been telling the disciples that he had come to die on the cross but that he would be raised again from the dead. So, he is talking about this with Moses and Elijah the Law and the prophet. And it says that he is going to fulfil this at Jerusalem. One of the things we need to remember is Jesus is not a victim here. That needs to be clear. Jesus fulfills or accomplishes what he came to do at Jerusalem. As you know as we draw closer to easter and good Friday, as Jesus was hanging on the cross his last words are “it is finished” it is fulfilled/accomplished, he does what he came to do because that is what God does, he does and accomplishes what he intends. This is key as it is opposite to what the power of evil wants to do, the evil one wants to destroy us and God’s good creation. God though accomplishes what he wants, He destroys the power of evil through Jesus.
During this time similar to the event in the garden of gethsemane, the disciples in their human frailty are sleepy … But, they wake up just in time to see the tail end of what is going on, they see Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. And Peter speaks up and starts talking. And makes suggestions to
build shelters on the mountain
he wants to lock this glorious moment up on a mountain. Then we are told that Peter does not know what he is talking about. Peter doesn’t understand that Jesus didn’t come to be glorified on a mountain in this way, but Jesus came to enter into mess of a world and throw that mess upon the cross. And peter knows this because just a week before he was speaking with Jesus about death and the crucifixion, when Jesus rebuked him and said “get behind me Satan” Because Satan doesn’t want God to triumph on the cross either.
For Peter, and the others and even us we want glory we do not want death. But as we know we cannot get glory, and we cannot avoid death. So, God sorts this out for us he comes and takes that death on himself and that is where he shows his true glory. And we know all this because as Peter was talking and not understanding
a cloud came and overshadowed them.
Now clouds are kind of a big deal, they always are concealing God’s presence, we see this in the wilderness during the 40-year exodus, we read of the cloud which covered the top of mount Sinai and Moses entered it and also as the cloud filled the tabernacle. And here the cloud now covered them on the mountain. And they are afraid. And more importantly a voice comes out of the cloud, and it is God’s voice and what is God doing? He is giving a one sentence sermon! God doesn’t muck around he hits them with a pearler. God says
“This is my Son, whom I have Chosen, listen to Him!”
He is basically saying Peter … Be quiet! And listen to my son. But we then what happens? “The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone.” So, we have just experienced Peter speaking and not knowing what he was saying and then God tells them to listen. For Peter, it is better to stay silent and not speak about those things he doesn’t understand. And that is because until Jesus has died, been buried, risen and given them the Holy Spirit. Then and only then it can be God speaking through Peter and not Peter just giving his own thoughts and opinions. That is why they are told to keep it to themselves. You don’t come to church to hear my thoughts and opinions we all come to hear what God is telling us through His Word.
Back to the voice from the cloud “This is my Son, whom I have chosen, listen to him” Listen to the word made flesh, listen to what God is telling you, look at what God is doing. Listen, listen, listen… They saw his glory and didn’t understand and so God is telling them to listen.
Now they all move down from the mountain and what immediately happens? They are confronted by the demonic. Just like us we are confronted by the powers of evil daily which have hold of the world. And in this particular scene it is a father begging Jesus to look at his son his only child because he is possessed.
The demon convulses him so that he foams at the mouth and shatters him
and will hardly leave him. The demon shatters the child. As a parent that feeling when your child suffers, that shattering feeling that is what the father is feeling he is desperate he is begging. It says that the father “begged the disciples to drive it out, but they could not” It is because we do not have the power to overcome evil, we do not have the power in ourselves to do what the father is begging them to do, only God has that power. So, Jesus answers
“You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?”
Jesus is with us, and he is “putting up” with our sin. Back at the beginning of Epiphany we read of the baptism of Jesus, at his baptism Jesus didn’t need to be baptised for the forgiveness of sins, Because Jesus is God in the flesh, he doesn’t sin does not sin so why did he need to be baptised? Jesus in his baptism enters our sin and death and takes it on for us at his baptism. You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?” And sometimes we are faithless and twisted and Jesus comes not to straighten us out, not to destroy us, he comes to be with us and bear with us and that is what he does here with his father and the demon possessed son, he says “bring your son here.” And the demon attacks the boy at that very moment throwing him to the ground and convulses him. But what does Jesus do?
He rebuked the impure spirit healed the boy and gave him back to his father.
That is what Jesus does, he rebukes the power of evil, he heals us, and he gives us back to our father. That is what he came to do. He didn’t come to stay on top of a mountain somewhere, where we could go and gaze on his glory and be encouraged and strengthen and then go back out and do a better job. No way, He came to be with us, to bear with us, to rebuke evil, to heal us and to restore us so we can be with our father. And how do the people respond to this? It says,
“and all were astonished at the majesty of God.”
How do we respond to what God is doing here? The disciples on the mountain see this and are overwhelmed and afraid, they don’t know what they are talking about, the people here see this event of Jesus’ power over evil and death and they are astonished. There is no faith, that has to be given to us. But we are baptised children of God who have His Word which comes to us and this Word gives us faith and this Word that we hear today by the power of the holy spirit enables us to hear. We not only see but we hear that voice of God saying, “this is my son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” Listen to him. And as we hear this word and promise and this good news and God by the power of the Holy spirit sends that word into our ears and into our hearts and it is by his grace that we hear it and listen to it and believe it.
May God Bless you as you listen this word today, as he work faith in your hearts and mind and spirit as he has shown his glory, as he has rebuked and defeated the power of evil and death and as he has healed you and as he has given you back to your father.