James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Detail of The Transfiguration (La transfiguration), 1886-1896. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 9 1/2 x 6 1/16 in. (24.1 x 15.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.145 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.145_PS1.jpg) https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/4516
Season of Epiphany
February 23, 2020
The Transfiguration of Our Lord
Jesus Stand Alone Because He Stands in the Way of Death for You
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Who did Moses think was the greatest person on the Mount of Transfiguration? Who did Elijah think was the greatest person on the Mount of Transfiguration? Who did Peter think it was?
Moses knew it was Jesus. Elijah, too. But Peter was thinking, “This is cool. This is awesome. Moses and Elijah are here!”
He didn’t know what to say, but he spoke. And his hot take wasn’t to ask more about this departure about which these heavenly men were speaking. No, he wants to build shelters for all three of them, as though all three—Moses, Jesus, Elijah—were important and equal pieces of God’s salvation. Important, of course. Equal, no way.
Jesus stands out. He stands alone. And He stands out because of His love and devotion to His Father’s will. His Father’s will is clear. Paul explains what God wants:
[God] wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.
— 1 Timothy 2:4-6 --
Jesus stand alone because He is the mediator, the middle man, who takes two opposites and brings them together. The two opposites are you and God.
You are bad; He is good.
Your life isn’t going well; He is life.
Jesus is the middle man who stands in the way of death for you. He does this by departing. In Luke 9 we hear this:
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.
— Luke 9:28b-31 --
They were talking about His departure, which is a translation of the word exodus. Exodus should take you back to Egypt and the Hebrew slaves and how Jesus sent Moses to deliver them from evil and into the promised land.
Egypt is this world; it is your so-called life. Physically your slavery to sin is much less demanding than making bricks with straw and building obelisks for Pharaohs, but spiritually this world is killing you. It tells you to get excited about all the wrong stuff and to despise simple good things, like boredom. A working definition of boredom is not having anything to do. That’s what you told mom anyway: “There’s nothing to do!”
It’s evidence of this deadly world than when you are bored, you hardly ever stop and think about anything. Certainly not Jesus’ departure, His exodus. In contrast what do heavenly people think about all the time and talk about all the time? Moses and Elijah just wanted to talk about one thing: Jesus’ exodus. That’s it.
So think about this the next time you are bored or you lose your phone or you can’t sleep and you too tired to reach over for your phone.
The exodus of Moses was bloody. A lot of people died. A lot of firstborn people and animals died. Read Exodus 12. And after all that about two million people escaped the slavery of Egypt. A triumph for the Lord and a tremendous benefit for His people.
The exodus of Jesus was bloody, too. But only one man died. And because of Jesus’ death, His exodus, the sins of billions of people were paid. Millions and millions of lives were saved by faith in His exodus, His death, His cross, His blood.
The only reason Moses and Elijah were alive on that mountain was Jesus. The only reason they are still alive and always will be is Jesus. He is the greatest person on that Mountain and He stands always as the greatest everywhere and for all time.
He stands alone, and He stands alone for you.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.