O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Do you see God?
Do you see God?
Based on Mt. 17:1-13
Preached on March 3, 2014
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Fellow baptized saints, do you see God? Do you see Him showing Himself to you? Revealing Himself? Making Himself known? What is it that you see? (pause)
In our Gospel reading this morning, Jesus has something to show you. He has something to show His disciples. So He took Peter, James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And when they got to a place where no one else could see them, there something radical happened to the way Jesus looked. He was transformed. Changed. Transfigured before them. And His face shone like the sun.
Like the SUN! That burning hot ball that if you look directly at it for too long you will go blind. The dull flesh of Jesus' face melted away as brilliant, blinding light burst forth from within. He was revealing who He was beneath His flesh - His true essence - His Godness.
His clothes became white as light - He lost His shadow, for His whole self was casting light - His clothes were shining, though they were ordinary clothes. And look, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with Him.
But Peter didn't see. Despite Jesus' blinding face, despite the appearance of Moses and Elijah speaking face to face with Him on this holy mountain, Peter didn't see. Oh, he saw the physical facts just fine. But Peter didn't see God, he didn't know who he was looking at, because he was using the wrong eyes. Peter was not seeing with eyes of faith.
Look. Three prophets. This is good. I'll make three equal tents and we can hang out up here on the mountain for a while. Peter was so far off the mark that the heavenly Father interrupted his blindness with a cloud of brilliant light. He spoke words that knocked him to his knees, that sent his face to the ground. This is my beloved Son. The One who spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai. The One who spoke to Elijah on Mount Sinai. You are seeing what happened there, here in this moment. I am showing you the past so that you know who this Jesus is who is with you. He is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, Listen to Him, for this is what Moses and Elijah did.
Oh, how badly we need this bright cloud to overshadow us and knock us to the ground like this, don't we? For we are just like Peter. We don't want to look by eyes of faith, because we want to see the glory with our physical eyes - right now. We want to see the shining face, even if we'll miss the God revealed in it. We think seeing a vision like this, some kind of near death experience - we think this would really strengthen our faith, even when our Father tells us it will not. Do you want to believe in my Son? Do you really want to see the glory of God? Listen to Him!
The Word of Christ is what creates and strengthens faith. Hearing His Word changes the way we see. It transfigures our eyes from death to life. From not seeing God, to seeing God. The Word of Christ is such a bright light that it makes sight where there was none. It creates the place which sees where before there was only darkness. The Christian sees God by hearing His Word.
Think about it for a moment. Why does God send preachers out into the world to preach? Why does Beautiful Savior have Bible Studies and other instruction in the Word? Why is there faith at all? So that Christ may be seen. That you may see Him for who is - this man - your God - who will descend this mountain and walk Himself into the jaws of evil, offer Himself for your punishment, and destroy Himself taking your sin with Him. Do you see God? Do you behold His shining face? (long pause)
Hidden, yet seen by faith. Jesus, the Word wrapped in flesh, always shines like the sun. Still. Today. And should He pull back the veil here in our midst and show us His presence - this room would be full of light, as bright as the sun. We would all be blinded by the brilliance. For the dull surface of bread would vanish as brilliant, blinding light burst forth upon the altar. The deep red of wine would evaporate in the glow of God's glory. The words coming out of my mouth would be beams of light travelling to your ears and filling your minds. And as I look out upon you, His washed ones, clothed in the white robe of His baptism, where Christ has put His Word, and planted His body and blood, I would see Him there shining in you. Illuminating His Church.
And should we go to the cemetery where the sanctified bodies of His baptized saints lie in the earth, the soil would disintegrate before our eyes as the rays of His radiance radiated even there, where the redeemed rest waiting for the Last Day when Christ's light in them will be revealed to all the world - when our Lord finally says "Rise and have no fear" - when we will be presented to the heavenly Father and He will declare in all His glory - This is my Son, with whom I am well pleased. Shining! Like the SUN! (long pause)
This is what lies hidden - what we see and know is true only by faith. Christ is here in His Word, and we see Him by faith. We see Christ, and can confess with the whole Church - Lord, now you let your servant go in peace. Your Word has been fulfilled. My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people. A light to reveal you to the nations, and the glory of your people Israel.
Fellow baptized saints, do you see God? Yes in Christ you see Him. And in Christ you look like Him. Shining! Like the SUN! No more shadow, for God's own Word, His Son, shines forth in you. He has put Himself in you - by Word and Sacrament - that He may be seen in you. By His Father, by the holy angels, and by your neighbour who so desperately needs you. Lift up your eyes, therefore, and look only to Christ, for He has come to shine in you. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr