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“A Glimpse of Glory”
Luke 9:28-36


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
The Transfiguration of Our Lord–Last Sunday after the Epiphany—February 10, 2013

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

This is an artist’s conception of what Jesus may have looked like.  I used this picture in today’s children’s sermon, and a copy also hangs in our Fellowship Hall.  The Bible itself does not give us any details about Jesus’ appearance.  Of course, there were no photographs in those days and it seems no one ever made a portrait of Jesus while he was living here on earth.

We do know this: While he was living here on earth, Jesus humbled himself and became a man.  He did not fully make use his divine powers and prerogatives.  He lived just like any other human being.  And his appearance was probably nothing special, just like any other young man from Galilee.  This is perhaps what Isaiah means when he says, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”

This morning we celebrate The Transfiguration of Our Lord, when Jesus took Peter, James and John with him to a high mountain.  And there his appearance was changed; he was transfigured before them.  St. Luke writes in today’s Gospel Reading: “The appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.”  St. Mark says: “His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.”  And St. Matthew tells us: “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.”

For a few moments on that mountain, Jesus shined forth in all his divine splendor and glory.  On the Mount of the Transfiguration, Jesus gave us a sample of the glory we will share with him in heaven.  In The Transfiguration of Our Lord, we have, “A Glimpse of Glory.”

First of all from the Transfiguration we learn the one way, the only way to share in glory of heaven.  You won’t share in the glory of heaven because you are a good person, for you are not.  St. Paul writes in Romans: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. . .  There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  And you won’t share in the glory of heaven because you have earned it, for you cannot.   Isaiah says that as far as getting into heaven is concerned in God’s sight, “All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.”

However, a careful reading of the Transfiguration story tells us the one way, the only way you will share in the glory of heaven: “Jesus took Peter, James and John with him.”  Jesus says, “I am the way.”  Jesus is the way to heaven, Jesus is your way to heaven.  For, just as Jesus took Peter, James and John with him to share a few moments of glory on the Mount of the Transfiguration, he will take you to share with him an eternity of never-ending glory in heaven.  Jesus promises, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. . .  I am going there to prepare a place for you. . .  I will come and take you to be with me.”  That is how you will share in the glory of heaven: Jesus will take you to be with him in heaven, because he loves you, because he forgives you, because he gave himself for you to pay for your sins, because he put his love for you into action on the cross.

To the thief on the cross who trusted in him, Jesus promised, “Today, you shall be with me in paradise.”  That beautiful, comforting promise, “you shall be with me in paradise,” is still true for you, and for all who trust in him for eternal salvation.  When you die, he takes your soul to be with him in paradise.  And, on the Last Day he will raise up you and all the dead; your soul will be reunited with your resurrected and glorified body; and he will give to you and all believers in Christ eternal life.  As Jesus promises, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me, even though he dies, yet shall he live.”

In The Transfiguration of Our Lord we see “A Glimpse of Glory”: The glory we will share with him in heaven, and the glorified bodies we will have.  Just as Christ was transfigured, and for a few moments on the mountain shined with heavenly glory, so all who trust in Jesus, all are asleep in him, will on the Last Day be raised from the dead, our physical bodies made alive again and transfigured into glorious, heavenly bodies.  St. Paul writes in First Corinthians: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”  And in Philippians: “[He] will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

The Bible teaches that in eternity we will actually have the same bodies we have now, except they will be transformed to perfection, with no illness, no diseases, no weakness, no pain, no more suffering of any kind.  Job proclaims: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another.”

We also learn from The Transfiguration of Our Lord that with us in heaven will be all the faithful from throughout the ages whom God brought to faith in his Son, the Savior.  Just as Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus and talked with him, in heaven a great, countless multitude of believers will gather around the throne of God, and you will be there.  You will be there with Moses and Elijah, and all the other believers of the Old Testament, who looked forward in faith to the coming of the Savior.  As an old hymn puts it so beautifully, “There David stands with harp in hand as master of the choir.”  You will be there, with David, Noah, Adam and Eve, Isaiah, Job, Ruth, Joshua, all those Old Testament saints you have so often read and heard about.

And with you also in heaven will be the faithful men and women of the New Testament: Mary and Joseph, the Apostles and first disciples, St. Paul, the thief on the cross, the women who discovered the empty tomb.  Just as Moses and Elijah appeared and talked with Jesus, you will be there in heaven with all believers of all times and places, all who trusted in the Christ, spanning the centuries since the beginning of time.  As St. John writes in Revelation: “There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.”

People sometimes ask, “Will I know my loved ones in heaven?  Will I recognize them?”  The Transfiguration of Our Lord gives us the answer: YES!  Just as Moses and Elijah were known to and recognized by the disciples, you will certainly know and recognize and rejoice in heaven with your loved ones who trusted Jesus.

Finally, we learn from The Transfiguration of Our Lord that heaven is a wonderful place.  People sometimes make jokes that heaven might get to be a bit boring, that perhaps eternity will grow tiresome.  But, for a few moments on the Mount of the Transfiguration, Peter, James and John had a sample of heaven, “A Glimpse of Glory”—and they didn’t want it to ever end!  “It is good for us to be here,” Peter says.

In the same way, in heaven you will not be bored, you will not grow weary of eternity.  Just as Peter proclaimed when he experienced “A Glimpse of Glory,” “Lord, it is good for us to be here,” you will revel and rejoice in glorious bliss of your heavenly home, with continual happiness, unending joy and perfect peace.  As Psalm 126 says, “Then will our mouths be filled with laughter, and our tongues with songs of joy.”  And Isaiah describes heaven this way: “They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

In The Transfiguration of Our Lord, we have a sample of heaven, “A Glimpse of Glory.”  Just as Jesus took Peter, James and John with him to the mountain, he will take you to be with him in heaven.  Just as they witnessed for a few moments the divine glory and splendor of Jesus, you will behold the glory of the Lord face-to-face for eternity.  Just as the body of Jesus was transfigured before them, he will transform our lowly bodies to be like his glorious body.  Just as Moses and Elijah appeared on the mountain and talked with Jesus, with you in heaven will be all believers in Christ of all times and places.  Just as Moses and Elijah were known to and recognized by the disciples, you will know and recognize your loved ones in heaven.  Just as Peter did not want the glory of the Transfiguration to ever end, but cried out, “It is good for us to be here,” you will be eternally happy in the joys of heaven.

In The Transfiguration of Our Lord we have a taste of things to come, a sample of heaven, “A Glimpse of Glory.”
Amen.

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