Text: 2 Peter 1:16-21
16b but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
On June 4, 1783 at the market square of a French village of Annonay, not far from Paris, a smoky bonfire on a raised platform fed by wet straw and old wool rages. Tethered above, straining its lines was a huge taffeta bag 33 feet in diameter. In the presence of "a respectable assembly and a great many other people," and accompanied by great cheering, the balloon was cut from its moorings and set free to rise majestically into the noon sky. Six thousand feet into the air it went -- the first public ascent of a balloon, the first step in the history of human flight. It came to earth several miles away in a field, where it was promptly attacked by pitchfork-waving peasants and torn to pieces as an instrument of evil!
Today in the Word, July 15, 1993.
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
There is much to be considered here but also much that is said. The idea for many in our day and at the time of the apostles is that somehow these stories and accounts of Jesus were made up, didn’t happen, or were greatly exaggerated. Peter says a mouthful when he says,
,but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 2 Peter 16b
Today we celebrate the Transfiguration of our Lord or as our bulletin says :
“The dazzling array of light at the Lord’s transfiguration makes known that Jesus supersedes even Moses and Elijah … and all the prophets [who] were sent to point us to Jesus.”
17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
Not a story you might hear or read about or speculate about without substance or evidence. But Jesus … Transfigured … and Peter saw it with the others, and heard the very voice of God from heaven.
Old Testament lesson Exodus 24:16-17 ESV
16 The glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
17 Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.
18 Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
Here the convergence of the Old and New Testaments come together. Moses and the book of the Law and Elijah along with Jesus who is the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets … come together … and Peter is an eyewitness … an eyewitness of his majesty transfigured.
To say that we have our work ahead of us is quite another thing. Doubt in the word, in the world is significant.
Just in Bible Study over the last few weeks it was brought up how many of our own brothers and sisters who have been made members of God’s family by His calling, don’t attend church regularly if ever and fall away, some even to unbelief.
The reason: “I don’t need to be in church and worship to have a relationship to God!” That seems to be a common theme for many. I just do the things I like to do and keep my faith … if there is really any faith at all - to myself - and all is well with me and God.”
Or, God becomes nothing more than an idol where we place our trust – be it family, work, bank account, sports, friends … or whatever.
The question of where IS God also is part of our thinking.
He is surly in the world. We know of the omnipresence and omnipotence of God … that He is everywhere and that He is all powerful but God is everywhere only as it pertains to His Law.
It is written on the hearts of his creatures and evident in His creation but by the Law we come to know sin and how far we fall short.
It is by God’s Holy Spirit and through His means of word and sacrament that we know God and His saving love for you and for me.
It is in church where His gifts are given and we receive the blessed forgiveness and know the Good News that you and I have the favor of God on account of Christ by faith in Him.
C.S. Lewis makes a wonderful point when he wrote:
Believing things 'on authority' only means believing them because you have been told them by someone you think trustworthy …
… Every historical statement is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Spanish Armada. But we believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them; in fact, on authority. A person who balked at authority in other things, as some people do in religion, would have to be content to know nothing all his life.
19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,
Peter brings to his hearers and us what God’s means is … his holy and prophetic word. Do you believe it? Do you trust it? Peter says this word was not something made up but was given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
20 knowing this first of all that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation.
21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
God’s word says Jesus was transfigured before them in the Gospel reading for today.
God’s voice says:
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
God wants you to see no one but Jesus.
If you harbor doubt … let God lead you into His light by His word. Trust the prophetic words of the eyewitnesses. Do not live in unbelief anymore … but believe.
The word became flesh and dwelt among us. Do not attack it like pitchfork-waving peasants did to that first balloon tearing to pieces as an instrument of evil! Joy in the truth that your sins are forgiven by the one who was and is and is to come.
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.