Transfiguration Sunday

SERMON TEXT:  Luke 9:28-36

About eight days after he said these words, Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. While he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothing became dazzling white. Just then, two men, Moses and Elijah, were talking with him! They appeared in glory and were talking about his departure, which he was going to bring to fulfillment in Jerusalem.
Peter and those with him were weighed down with sleep, but when they were completely 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’s make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not realize what he was saying.
While he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them. They were afraid as they went into the cloud. Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” After the voice had spoken, they found Jesus alone. They kept this secret and told no one in those days any of the things they had seen.

Sermon Audio, Video & Transcript

Theme: Learn From Jesus

Grace be unto you and peace from God our father and our lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Our text today as stated is the gospel lesson for today, Transfiguration Sunday. Transfiguration Sunday marks the end of the Epiphany season. That part of the church year that talks about how Jesus was manifested, how he was showing forth, how people saw who he was. The season can be up to nine Sundays. This year because Easter is quite light, this is actually the seventh Sunday in the epiphany. Part of that cycle that we follow year after year. A cycle that gives us the life of Jesus, from advent, through Christmas’s birth, now Epiphany where his miracles, his teachings show us to lent which will enter this next week on Wednesday with Ash Wednesday. Epiphany, this season is really a set of bookends on each end of it. Epiphany itself, which is January 6, is the visit the Wise men, but the first Sunday after Epiphany gives us that account of Jesus baptism. Where he was going to get ready, anointed by the Holy Spirit, to begin his ministry. From that time on that occasion we heard the voice of the Father who said, You are my son whom I love. With you I am well pleased, is a bookend the beginning of his ministry. And now those three years of his ministry would go on, they’re almost over. Today, on Transfiguration Sunday we hear that same voice say similar words. Then a voice came out of the cloud saying, This is my son whom I love. Listen to him. Isn’t that what we do when we come to church? We listen to Jesus. We learn from Jesus as his disciples did. As they sat at his feet for those three years. As you do week after week, day after day. Especially this morning we learn from Jesus in a special way in His transfiguration, that glimpse of His glory. Our text tells us about eight days after he said these words, Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up on the Mount to pray.

Jesus knew the end of his ministry here on earth was almost over. He took that inner three, Peter, James, and John, up on the mountain. We don’t know exactly where. Bible scholars pick two locations, one in northern Galilee, see the little red dot at Mount Herman. Others say down the south part of Galilee, not really important. It was up on one of these mountains. The holy land was filled with isolated areas where Jesus could quietly go off by himself to pray. How often don’t we hear that Jesus did just this, when he needed time alone. When he was looking for strength from his Heavenly Father. He gives us that example, when there’s times of stress, times of difficulty, times of uncertainty, he shows us go off and pray. Or, don’t you have those times in your life? Never times of stress? Never times when you’re not certain what you have, or maybe you know what’s going to happen. Maybe you have that surgery scheduled. You know it’s coming. As Jesus knew what was coming. We see what Jesus did during these times. We learn from Jesus. Take the time to quietly pray, because God will answer. Jesus I’m sure was praying for strength for His passion. For Lent that we’re getting ready to celebrate. For his suffering and death. He was praying for strength and what did God do? God gave him an answer in one sense of strength, because we’re told in our text, while he was praying the appearance of his face changed, and his clothing became dazzling white. It was changed. It was transfigured. The term is metamorphosis. Remember that term from science years ago, metamorphosis? It talked about how that caterpillar when into the cocoon and changed into that beautiful butterfly. It was transfigured, it was transformed, changed from a humble caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly. Jesus here for himself and for his disciples enter us got once more a glimpse of the glory that he left behind. The glory that was His in heaven before He came down here on earth. The first Christmas before he took on our human nature. This glimpse of glory, and just then two men, Moses, we heard about their Old Testament reading and Elijah, were talking with him. They appeared in glory and were talking about his departure, which he was going to bring to fulfillment, interesting. What do we have here? We have two figures from the Old Testament. We see some kind of comparison, some kind of contrast. We see Moses, the lawgiver. We see Elijah, great prophet and in between them, we see Jesus. What a comparison. Moses was a great preacher. Remember he didn’t always listen to God. He ended up not being able to go into the promised land. Instead, he died, and God buried him in some special location. He was a sinner. Elijah was a prophet. A speaker of God’s message, but he also was a human being. There in between, in full glory Jesus was showing them that He was the one, not Elijah, not Moses, but the message they proclaim, because that’s what they were talking about, Jesus.

We can look at that today too. You preaches the gospel. For about 20 years had pastor Wagenknecht. For a few months you’ll have me. Then you’ll have someone else, but it’s not us is it? Just like it wasn’t Moses, it was Elijah, it’s the great Shepherd who brings the message of his glory. The message we see, we see in his glory. That’s what we learn from Jesus. The focus is on Him. That’s what we heard when we studied that epistle lesson in Bible class. The focus is on Jesus, not Paul. And that’s what Peter, James, and John saw as they woke up from that sleep and saw the transfigured glory of Jesus. Yes, Moses and Elijah were basking in that glory. They had part of that glory. Why? Because they were talking about his departure which He was going to bring to fulfillment in Jerusalem. They were discussing how Jesus was going to be going to Jerusalem one last time, and then depart. His exodus. His death and what that was meaning. What that was going to happen, what that meant for Peter, James, and John, and what that meant for us, His passion. The message we’re going to study in detail in the weeks ahead. The Wednesday night services. The Sunday morning services. The message of Jesus, and Peter, and those with him were weighed down with sleep, but when they were completely 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’s make 3 tents, one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah he did not realize what he was saying. Peter saw this glory that Jesus is Lord, and Elijah and Moses basking in the glory. They receive that glory. They had died, or did Moses had died. Elijah was taken right up into heaven, but they now had Jesus’ glory. Peter said, we want that we want that now! In a sense what Peter was saying, Lord it’s good for us to be here. Can’t we just put up our tent and stay here, for like forever? Let’s not go forward. Let’s stay here. Everything’s good. Think about it. Those disciples had been following Jesus for three years. They had seen him do miracles. They had seen him heal the blind, the lame, the deaf. Take away their sicknesses so they can walk again, see again. He fed the 5,000. He took care of their stomachs. Wouldn’t that be great if we just had the glory of Jesus, and stay here on the mountain, and we don’t have to go forward. Everything would just be so good. We sometimes I think get caught up in that. God, why can’t you just make everything good for us here. Take away my illness that I have. Paul thought that one point, remember? Take away this thorn of the flesh. I can do so much better. We get caught up in that too.

We want the glory of God now for our life here, as the Peter. But Peter needed to learn, as we do, look forward. They talked about His mission. Yes, they saw His glory. They saw the power and what Jesus had, but they also needed to hear His mission. What was it that Elijah and Moses and Jesus were talking about? The cross. His suffering, His death and what would follow. Jesus told us to take up our cross. That life here on earth is not always going to be physically as we wanted, but what is coming? What is beyond? Transfiguration gave the disciples and us, and Jesus that strength, that glimpse, of what is coming! Last evening you had a funeral here and pastor Wagenknecht preached a very good sermon on that message pointing to what Evelyn Hokenson who is now with her Lord has. Isn’t that what we’re looking forward to? Isn’t that what we want? Not like Peter, but stay here enjoy it. Let’s look forward to the full glory of what’s coming, because that’s the message that was here. The message that God the Father delivered. While he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them. They were afraid as they went into the cloud. Then a voice came out of the cloud saying, this is my son whom I love, listen to Him. Listen to Jesus, listen to his word. Listen to what he has to say to us in scripture. But I ask you, what does it mean to listen? Parents do you ever tell your children, listen! Why do you have to tell them that? They don’t always. What does it mean to listen? Is it like most people? Do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply. Isn’t that us sometimes? We maybe are listening to what someone has to say, so we can figure out how we’re going to reply. What are we going to say in answer to them? Why don’t we give our viewpoint? I think sometimes we do that with God. We listen to what He has to say. Okay God, you promised this. Now, do it my way! Listen is not the intent to reply. Peter learned that. And later on years later he would write a letter in which he said, we did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye witnesses of His Majesty. For He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to Him from the majestic glory saying this is my son whom I love with him I am well pleased.

Peter listened later, got the message. He heard what Jesus once said, blessed are those who hear the word of God, and obey it, and follow it. do it. Who don’t try to respond and say, no, this is a way. Who say this is what God says, so I follow it. Follow that word, that Scripture, that we hear again and again in our services. The word that we study in Bible classes. The Scripture that we privately sit down with at home in private meditations. Using the devotion book, Meditations1, a wonderful source.

Listen to God, because when we do so, we learn from Jesus. We learn. We learn to see his glory. Transfiguration a glimpse. The Lord’s supper, which you’ll be offered this morning, a foretaste of heaven. It’s often referred to as a heavenly meal. A glimpse of the glory of heaven. We hear his mission. Why Jesus came, the cross. The mission that again comes to us fulfilled in the Lord’s supper when we receive his true body and blood shed for us, for our forgiveness. We listen to His word again and again, because we need that strength. We need that encouragement. We need that reminder. Transfiguration Sunday, it gives us that big picture. The bookend at the end of the Epiphany of Jesus life. It gets us ready to enter this next season of Lent to prepare us for Easter. When the message of transfiguration teach us again about Jesus.


  1. Also available as an app. ↩︎

Bible Readings

FIRST LESSON:  Exodus 34:29-35

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not realize that the skin of his face was shining because he had been speaking with the Lord. When Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, they were amazed that the skin of his face was shining, so they were afraid to come close to him. Moses called to them, so Aaron and all the rulers of the community returned to him, and Moses spoke to them. Afterward all the people of Israel came close to him, and he gave them all of the commands that the Lord had spoken to him on Mount Sinai. When Moses was finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would take the veil off until he came out again. Then he would come out and tell the people of Israel what he had been commanded. Whenever the people of Israel saw Moses’ face, they would see that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. Then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with the Lord again.

SECOND LESSON:  2 Corinthians 4:3-6

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing. In the case of those people, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from clearly seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is God’s image.
Indeed, we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For the God who said, “Light will shine out of darkness,” is the same one who made light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ.


“This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him.”

GOSPEL: Luke 9:28-36

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