The Transfiguration of our Lord
March 3, 2019
“No More Doubts”
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you all in the name of God our Father and our Good Shepherd Jesus. The text that we will consider for the sermon is the Gospel Lesson from Luke 9.
My dear friends,
Delta flight 1178 was supposed to leave Tampa International at 4:55 PM and arrive in Atlanta at 6:40 PM which would allow me to make my connection flight to Omaha at 7:28. Then flight 1178 was delayed until 5:25 PM. Then until 6:00 PM. Then until 7:00 PM Flight 1178 left at 7:40 PM, so unless we could fly so fast as to go back in time, I seriously doubted I would make my connecting flight to Omaha. Which I didn’t. I also doubted that Delta would care that I had to spend the night in a cheap room at Motel 6 until the next morning with nothing more than the clothes on my back.
Ben Franklin once said, “When in doubt, don’t.” Not sure how or if that pertains to Delta, but when it comes to the Transfiguration of our Lord, that is exactly the case. This event should remove ALL doubt about who Jesus is.
The Transfiguration of our Lord is the kind of event that should remove all doubt. In one brief moment in time, the glory of Jesus Christ was revealed visibly to men – to Peter, James, and John – and, as if that weren’t enough, the very voice of God Himself shredded any doubt about who this man was and is.
These same disciples who saw the Transfiguration had seen much while following the Lord Jesus. But they, like every other person, still had their doubts. Miraculously feeding 500 people, raising Jairus’ daughter, calming storms, healing lepers, casting out demons, and now revealed in His glory on that mountaintop? That should remove ALL doubt, right? Yet, when push came to shove, soon and very soon Peter will deny Jesus 3 times and when the swords come out, James and John will run off into the darkness. Because they doubted.
As present day followers of Christ, you have your doubts, don’t you? Does God care about you? If so, why do you have to struggle with problem after problem? If God truly provides for all your needs, why is your checking account balance so low or maybe why are there so many bills to pay? You have seen God come through for others, why hasn’t He “come through” for you yet? If God does care, why do you or your friends or your family members have to struggle with sickness, pain, and death? Why doesn’t God take my pain or fix this problem or why did that happen in the first place? Sounds like a lot of doubt to me.
Stop for a moment and think. You have heard His Word and its message of forgiveness, comfort, and hope for your life. You have been strengthened by His Sacraments. You have seen the hand of God at work in your lives. You know that things have not happened by chance. You know that God has answered prayer in your life. Think of all of YOUR life experiences…maybe they weren’t “loaves and fishes” miracles, but hasn’t God provided, and yet still you doubt?
The disciples needed to see a glimpse of Christ’s glory to calm their doubts. So do you. Seeing something like the Transfiguration would certainly give us newfound assurance that Jesus is the Christ. You were not there like Peter and James and John, but you still share in the vision: all 3 Synoptic Gospels provide us with this narrative (only John omits this…and he was there!). Jesus gave the disciples then and us now a glimpse of His glory on that mountain. He did so that there would be no more doubt, and every year before Lent begins, this is our vision too.
With the doubt (temporarily) removed, the disciples knew they were on to something big. They had beheld the glory of God…and they liked it! They wanted to stay. Why leave? At that time, in that place, bathed in God’s glory they were no longer surrounded by complexity and suffering of the world they knew every day. But they could not stay there. If Jesus would have stayed, there would have been doubts and lots of them. Jesus could not stay because something had to be done about sin and death. Once they leave that mountain, the cross begins to loom.
A little boy was out in his backyard, throwing a ball up in the air. An elderly passerby asked the boy what he was doing. He replied, “I am playing a game of catch with God. I throw the ball up in the air and he throws it back.” Now, I am in no position to comment theologically on God’s ability to play ball, but I do know that whatever goes up must come down.
And so it goes with our lives. We love to come to church, to our “mountaintop,” and share the experience of God’s glory, but then we, like Peter and the boys, have to turn around and leave. We also must go back down into everyday life in the world with its trouble, turmoil, trials, and temptations. Being here and experiencing the glory of God first-hand is not everyday living. Every day life is fighting with sin and flesh and death and suffering and problems at home, at work, in school, in the neighborhood, or wherever God puts you each day. NO ONE is exempt from the difficulties of life. What goes up must come down.
Jesus could not stay on the mountain. Something had to be done. And so He came down. He came down back into our “real lives” to do something about them. Jesus came down from that mountain and – not coincidently – began His final journey toward Jerusalem (v. 51). There in Jerusalem He would deal with all doubts. Once in Jerusalem Jesus had to climb another “mountain,” but this time up He had to bear His cross on His back. The radiant light of the Transfiguration was replaced instead with spit and blood and taunting. The vivid garments of His glory were stripped off and given to one lucky winner. That journey up Mt. Calvary would lead to an eventual conquering of doubt for all time. The victory over doubt is complete. Forgiveness of our sins prepares the way for doubt-free living. His victory over sin and death assures us – there is no need to doubt any longer.
Yes, ‘Tis Good, Lord, to be Here, but we cannot stay. Go down the mountain today when you leave this place and go back into your life in the world. In your life this week, LIVE THE VICTORY over sin and doubt through our revealed and transfigured Christ for His love and grace and mercy gives you no more doubts.
Is it good to be back in Florida after surviving a brutal Midwest blizzard and single digit temperatures? No doubt about it.