The Blue Mountains Franciscan Church
Sermon preached by Br. Simeon at Springwood on Sunday 7th February 2016:
LAST SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY.
TRANSFIGURATION. YR. C
Gospel: Luke 9:28-36(37-43)
While Jesus was praying, his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. Moses and Elijah appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
May I speak in the Name of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today we celebrate the Last Sunday after Epiphany, but it is also in our Anglican Lectionary the Transfiguration. What a grace for Peter and James and John to see Jesus transfigured. They got a preview of the glory of Jesus risen from the dead and his glory in heaven. It was also a preview of the glory we all hope to share in heaven one day. This was a very special grace for Peter and James and John.
Today’s gospel story is another take on that strange word “transfiguration.” Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a mountain to pray. And when they got to it, this time it was Jesus’ clothes that shined in a dazzling white. Then, as if the connection to the transfiguration of Moses wasn’t clear enough, we read that Moses and Elijah appeared and started talking to Jesus.
It may strike you as ironic that through this whole reading from Luke, not a single word of Jesus is recorded. But we do know the topic of conversation is between Moses, Elijah, and our Lord. And by the presence of these two Old Testament figures we learn some important things.
First of all, Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets, which is a common Biblical way of referring to the entire Old Testament. Secondly, their presence testifies to the immortality of the soul and the promise of the Resurrection, that even Old Testament believers had. But most important of all is their topic of conversation.
Only Luke tells us what they spoke about. In the NIV it reads, “They spoke about His departure, which He was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem.” I only need to point out one important thing—the word departure is actually the Greek word, “exodus.” What was the Exodus, and who lead it? It was God’s mighty deliverance of His people Israel out of slavery in Egypt, led by their deliverer Moses.
So now Moses appears here on the mountain with Jesus, some 1400-1500 years later, talking about Jesus’ Exodus, which was going to happen in Jerusalem?
In Luke’s Gospel, the transfiguration takes place after Jesus’ instructions to his followers on the cost of discipleship. To follow Jesus is an “exodus” through one’s own desert to the Promised Land, through Jerusalem to the empty tomb, through death to life. In offering to build three booths (or shrines) to honour Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter and his sleepy companions do not understand that Jesus’ exodus does not end with the glorious vision they have witnessed. It is only the beginning.
The transfiguration of Jesus is a turning point in the Gospel: the beginning of a new exodus, Jesus’ difficult “Passover” from crucifixion to resurrection.
As his disciples, we, too, are called to experience with Jesus the exodus of Jesus – an exodus that confronts us with the impermanence of this world and our own sinfulness, an exodus from this life to the life of God.
The season of Lent which -begins next week Sunday 14th February, calls us to transfiguration – to transform the coldness, sadness and despair around us through the compassion and love of Christ Jesus.