Did you know your hairdryer can help break in new leather shoes? Your microwave has the capability of fusing glass, measuring the speed of light, and squeezing the remaining juice from fruits. Your smartphone can read things out loud to you, like how many people are in your picture or the number of emails you receive. It can also take your words, put them into print, and send a message. …And if you don’t have a smartphone, any cellphone can unlock a car that uses a key-fob. Those are only a few additional things hairdryers, microwaves, and cell phones can do.
When we get new toys, excitement pounds the body. We use that toy right away—sometimes without reading the instructions or studying all of its capabilities. And it works great! You dry your hair. You cook food. You make calls and fire off text messages. Then, when the initial excitement wears off and you spend more time with that gadget, you discover additional features and more functions. It delights you even more.
So, let’s take a few minutes to revisit Bethlehem. Approach the manger with a curiosity that discovers all this child comes to do. Grasp those priceless joys God pours out on this most holy day. God Sent His Son! A Son to live with us under law and to live with us through his redemption.
Yes! Of course! We know that already! While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son (Luke 2:6-7). Stop and ponder that for a moment. Those well-known words are not a simple retelling of the first Christmas. God puts those words down in writing so that you can see a promise kept. A promise thousands of years in the making. A promise first made to trembling Adam and Eve. A promise repeated to childless Abraham. A promise proclaimed by the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Zechariah, Malachi. A promise repeated to millions, many of whom shrugged it off. [W]hen the time had fully come, God sent his Son…
God did what he said he would do. He did not turn his back and forsake a world of rebels. He did something the world did not deserve, something the world did not request. God Sent His Son. Not an angel. Not another prophet. Certainly not fiery destruction. He sends the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, the One present before the world began and the One who stands long after time ends. God sends the only One who can change our lives. God Sent His Son.
So look again at the manger. The One lying there is God. When you see this baby, you see the face of God. When you touch this baby, you touch the perfect God. When you hold this baby, you hold Almighty God. When you listen to this child, you listen to God. When this Teacher comforts you, God comforts you. When this Teacher forgives you, God whispers forgiveness directly to you. God sent his Son, born of a woman…
True God—and at the same time, true man. Jesus is a human being— just like you and me. There’s a reason for this: Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity (Hebrews 2:14). Humanity— like skin and bones and blood. A brain and eyes, ears, mouth, and nose. Jesus gets hungry. He grows sleepy. He cries and mourns. He has our human needs and our human emotions.
Yet, this goes deeper still. Because Jesus has flesh and blood, he, too, is born under law. God’s law, meaning, God expects Jesus to obey every single command. Consider that. God creates his commandments, his worship laws, and a law to govern life (Exodus 20-31). Then, he chooses to live under that law. He holds himself accountable to the same demands he created.
What king does that? Kings who create laws tend to live outside of those laws. Yet, your Jesus is born in order to live with you under law. That means, Jesus knows what it is like to be tempted. He knows how difficult it is to trust God to provide food and income, and to protect health. Jesus also was tempted to make his own bread out of stones (Matthew 4:1-4). He knows the feeling to challenge God’s promises. To act in half-unbelief. The devil tells him to jump off a building because God would [supposedly] keep him safe (4:5-7). He confronts that green envy to guard wealth, to love pleasures so much you would rather give up heaven than give up your life (4:8-10). Jesus also read the Word, heard the Word, and let the Word sink into the heart, and still faced the pull to run away from it. [Jesus] been tempted in every way, just as we are— yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
God Sent His Son for this reason: to live with us under the law and to obey every single article, sub-article, point, and detail. In Jesus you see perfection.
That perfect life marches to the cross. He takes your place (and mine) under God’s punishment. No, not that Jesus just no longer lives. Rather, God’s punishment is separation. Jesus is separated from the Father. God the Father turns his back on his Son and does not listen to Jesus’ cries for help. Yes, God is still present, but does not love. It would be like a prisoner locked behind bars. You throw the key down the hall and walk away. You hear the screams, but do not turn back. You ignore the tears, the sobbing, the crying. You walk away, leaving that criminal to fend for his own life. This is hell. To live forever without God’s love. This is what you and I deserve; to live forever without God’s love— and Jesus suffers so that you (and I) never will.
God Sent His Son to live with us under the law so that he may live with us through his redemption. Redemption. To ‘redeem’ means to ‘buy back.’ That’s what grocery stores do. A grocery store sends a coupon for $.50 off some groceries. Bring it to the store, hand it to the clerk, and she will give you $.50 to get the coupon back. We are conceived in sin, and born dead in sin (Psalm 51:5; Ephesians 2:1). Sin binds us to hell. The only way out of hell is perfection; the only offer God accepts is holiness. We have nothing to offer that God wants, but Jesus does. He walks into heaven, stands before the throne of his Father, and hands him his perfect life. The Father takes that perfect life and he releases us from hell. You (and I) are free. You (and I) are redeemed, ‘bought back’ to Jesus.
God Sent His Son to redeem those under law. That is your status now: free! Yes, guilt flares up. Shame might plague you. Frustration swells over poor choices. Yet, nothing will bind you to eternal misery. When Jesus died, his blood unlocked our chains. When Jesus rose, hell’s gates were thrown open and we ran out and up!
This is the reality!— and this is what makes Christmas so grand! God Sent His Son to live with us through his redemption. Jesus does not free us so that we can simply live for no reason, no purpose. You are not set free like animals released into the wild, aimlessly searching for family or home, for purpose. Rather, the shackles of slavery are removed so we can live under God’s care.
God sent his Son… that we might receive the full rights of sons. That is what you have, the “full rights of sons.” That includes you, ladies; God hands you what the firstborn son received. In the past, the son inherited the father’s wealth when the father died. All of it. He became the boss of the family business. He cared for the household. He managed the wealth. He receives the full rights to do and manage as he pleases. Nothing was divided. Nothing was split. Nothing was limited. He owns everything. When God says, we might receive the full rights of sons, he makes clear that nothing of his is off limits.
That means, you are God’s son now. You have changed from ‘sinner’ to ‘saint!’ You can approach God for any need, with any concern, for any reason at any time just like you approach your earthly father. God listens because he sees you as belonging to him.
He gives you heaven—and nothing is off-limits there. You can enter his throne room. You will not have to make reservations to see God. You will not need to pull a number and stand in line. You will not have ranks in heaven— where the rich live by the golden sea or the strong-in-faith live in luxury mansions and you live in the barracks. You are all sons of God. Regardless of your past, regardless of your time as a Christian, regardless of how much Bible you remember, you all have full access to God’s heaven— live in the same place, see the same God, and will enjoy all things.
If you are sons, then it means the father has graciously lavished this gift on you. You do not need to fabricate reasons all is well between you and God. Rather, the you can point to the manger and live confident. God Sent His Son to live with us through redemption.
When we get new toys, excitement pounds the body. We use that toy right away—sometimes without reading the instructions or studying all of its capabilities. And it works great—but so much joy is overlooked without studying that object more. Hairdryers, microwaves, and phones have so much potential when you take the time to study their uses a little closer.
Christmas becomes dull and repetitive when we rush over the Christ in the manger. Approach the manger with curiosity and discover a child who lives with us under law. Any pressure to undo the past, any despair flies away when you grasp how Jesus lived in your place. Then, he brought us to himself—without our actions or asking! Look to the manger and grasp those priceless joys God pours out on this most holy day. God Sent His Son! A Son to live with us under law and to live with us through his redemption.
He sat in his car in the church parking lot. In just a few minutes worship would be over and then he would know. You see, he used to attend a Lutheran church, but had stopped worshipping decades ago. Now into his mid-fifties, he felt the need to reconnect with a congregation. So, he sat in his car, waiting. The moment worship ended, he watched one person walk out the front door. Another followed, and then another, and another until everyone had left. He got his answer. “That’s not the church for me,” he later said to a friend. “The members are too old.”
They invited me to the kitchen table. These first-time visitors had just moved up from a Detroit suburb. Now they wanted a congregation to call “home.” They made their expectations pretty clear. “We want contemporary songs, modern instruments, and a casual feel. You should really think about giving us what we want.”
I asked him, “How do you like your church?” A sixth-grader, standing on the street-corner next to me. His parents wanted a church with more kids his age. So, they left one congregation for another church in the area— a larger one at that. What did he like about his new church? “Oh, it’s good,” he said. “We have bowling, Wii and XBox [video-game consoles], movies, and snacks.”
How do you respond to statements like that? (By the way, those are all real conversations I had with real people.) Your sister lays out her preferred worship style. Your friend describes how he wants the sermon/message presented in church. Your child implies that your congregation is out-of-touch with people— and you stand there in unfamiliar territory, struggling to summarize the purpose of your congregation. What do you say?
Our reading from Ephesians provides you with the only right response: Keep the Main Thing in Church the Main Thing! Only Jesus is our peace. Jesus is the only cornerstone for life.
Look once again at the end of verse 14 (in our reading). You’re immediately met with this towering, dividing wall of hostility… a wall created with its commandments and regulations. God built up this wall around Old Testament Israel. He assembled a civil law for the protection of personal property and individual rights. He constructed a ceremonial law that laid out when Israel should worship, how often, what sacrifices to bring, and the reason for each sacrifice. That wall was meant to protect the faith of the believing Jew from the influence of the nonbelieving Gentile.
The Gentiles (those not of Jewish ethnicity) sacrificed food to the sun, blessed their crops by visiting prostitutes, and bowed down to a myriad of non-existent deities. God’s wall divided Jews from Gentiles.
But that wall created another division; it stops the imperfect from approaching the Perfect. God’s command stops you still and towers high above you: Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). The Jews had God’s commands, but rebelled against them. Judges refuse justice, spiritual shepherds lead masses to false gods, kings trust mortal men. The Gentiles lived “far off.” They (1) had no knowledge that Jesus would save the world with his perfect life. They (2) did not even have a Bible to introduce them to Jesus! God still looks down from heaven to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. But all have turned aside, they have together become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one (Psalm 14:2-3). Every single person enters life divided, separated, far off from God. No one does good. Not even one!
And he sensed it. I stood beside him at his mother-in-law’s funeral. “I hope she’s with all of her loved ones,” he said. “She is,” I replied. “Jesus did everything necessary to bring her to heaven.” His response?“Eh… maybe. I hope she’s there.” This son-in-law attended a church far larger than the one I was in. His congregation had far more programs for every age-group imaginable. Yet, for the many decades he spent worshipping there, he never found peace with God. He stood in front of that dividing wall and was convinced that the only way to approach God was to do more good to outweigh his bad. http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c2a4.htm; see Paragraphs 1459-1460)
Here’s the point: Keep the Main Thing in Church the Main Thing. Because when you lose Jesus, you lose peace.
You lose peace when you place a higher priority on temporary things. You reach out to your community through Easter-postcard invites, doorhangers, an online presence. It seems like your words fall on deaf ears. Then out comes the pity-cry: “No one wants to hear God’s Word. We try to get it out, but nothing works. Woe is us!”
You share the most significant news ever: “Jesus alone gives eternal life!” You announce it in Sunday School. You hear in Bible Class. You sing it in worship! The results are not what you want. Out comes the pessimism: “Yeah, I thought more would come. Boy, things aren’t like they used to be. We might as well just stop the effort.”
First-time visitors, friends, children, even the sixth-grader on the corner all have in mind what they want from a church. It might have nothing to do with the Bible, but they don’t care. They want to feel entertained. Not too long after, the heart ponders: “Well, I would enjoy worship more if it was just more exciting …or I had someone here to talk to …or I fill in the blank.” Inside each of us lurks this slimy temptation to exchange God’s pure Word for sand that passes through the fingers! To fall for that trap will rob you of peace forever!
Do you know what the main thing in church is? What is the only way through the dividing wall of hostility? I’m not sure our reading can make it any clearer. After all, how many times do you hear: In Christ or in him or through him? Twelve times! Is it any secret? [Jesus] himself is our peace, [he] has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…
Jesus did what you (and I) could never hope to do. He did the only thing that really matters; he tore down the wall between you and God. Your Good Shepherd stands up in the Bible. He searches for those lost and harassed, like sheep without a shepherd. And he speaks, “I am your perfection. I did what you could not. I obey every single command and regulation with all my heart, mind, and soul. Stop digging for peace in yourself. I am your peace.” With his own perfect flesh he stamps God’s commands and regulations ‘Kept!’ ‘Obeyed!’ ‘Fulfilled!’ In his one body he reconciled [you] to God through the cross.
He ends the hostility between you and God so that you have peace forever. He rises and breaks down the walls of death. He comes and preaches peace to you… To you! For all the times you (and I) exchange the pure Word of God for something trite and trivial, you have peace. For all the times you (and I) selfishly prioritize pleasure over hearing God’s truth, you have peace. For all the times you (and I) hang our heads, moping as though we are losing, Jesus rises with victorious peace.
My friends, Keep the Main Thing in Church the Main Thing! God clearly explains the reason you gather here: to focus on Jesus. Because only Jesus is your peace. And the more you hear that good news, the more it changes your entire outlook on life. Because Jesus is the only cornerstone for life.
That wall of hostility is busted down. So what? So then, you are no longer foreigners and aliens… You are not separated from God. Rather, right here, right now, you are fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household. God has written your name into the citizenship rosters of heaven. He takes you by the hand and is leading you through this valley of the shadow of death to bring you safely to a heavenly country.
You can be sure of this. [You have been] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. God picked you up from the rock pile of humanity. In baptism, he laid you among many other bricks in a wall. With his Word, he mortared you in. With the Lord’s Supper, he tuck-points, making sure the mortar remains tough and strong so that you will never fall away. Your peace is this life is not dependent on your emotions. Those change from day to day. Your peace for heaven is not dependent on how moral you appear. You can never be good enough. You peace for life is anchored to the work of Jesus, the work which the Bible records. Point to it. It is a foundation. It will never break or crumble or fail. The Main Thing in Church remains Jesus. Listen to him because Jesus is your only cornerstone.
Jesus is your only cornerstone. People come to faith only through the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Some days, you may feel as though you are failing as a congregation. It is no secret that an increasing number of people are staying away from the Word than coming to it. You may feel as though the Word must change in order to gain larger numbers. You might think you need different activities or a different style of worship to invite people here. Now, those things are not wrong in themselves. Yet, when the purpose for attending church is to be entertained by things that cannot save, you have stepped off the only cornerstone for life. Faith comes only by hearing the Word Jesus sent out through his prophets and apostles. Not with youth entertainment and praise bands and the age of a congregation. Faith comes from the Word.
God makes that explicitly clear. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. God used his Word to bring you to faith. He still sends out the same Word, the only tool that brings others to faith as well. Keep the Main Thing in Church the Main Thing. Point people to Jesus, the only cornerstone for life.
God has handed you the priority-message: Jesus himself is our peace. Jesus’ death and resurrection promises you life in God’s family. So, you do not need to worry. Instead, you get to live in and work to share that Word of peace. You can always live built on this cornerstone.
So, what is the purpose of your congregation? If you struggle to put it into words, then repeat what our selection says here. It gives you the only right response: Keep the Main Thing in Church the Main Thing! Only Jesus is our peace. Jesus is the only cornerstone for life.
Imposing stone columns surround you, soaring to incredible heights before interlocking together high above. Thick brick walls press in on your right and left, each one also towering well over a hundred feet above you. The polished granite floor under your feet glistens. Pieces of clear glass pack massive window openings, letting bright white unfiltered light to pour into this temple. A hundred feet ahead lies four steps rising up to an intricately carved altar. On this platform is planted a dominant royal throne. Music fills the air all around you, angelic voices blending together singing praises. Can you picture the scene?
If you can’t, just Google: “British royal wedding ceremony pictures” and drink in those exquisite details. White poufy flowers drape walls and dress the front. Children’s choirs stand to your right and left. Delicate hats rest on the heads of every royal lady. Shiny medals hang from finely pressed military coats and gowns flow from each guest. This is the sight of power and dominance and respect.
You get to stand in that grand temple. No, this is no royal wedding. You stand in far more powerful, far more dominant, far more glorious setting. You stand before the King of the Universe! …in his presence! …in a sight of brilliance and dominance! The Holy, Holy, Holy LORD God Almighty! But how? He stands apart from sin.
Do you see that?
Look through the eyes of Isaiah the prophet. [T]he Lord [sits] seated on a throne… The Lord. Do know what that [name] means? Lord is not God’s first name like: Bob or George or Dick. [The name] Lord has a meaning; Lord credits God as One with authority, all-power, superiority; the One holding control over every single thing in the world with unsurpassed might. This is the God who rules the entire universe! This is the God before whom each individual must give account (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:12)! This is the God who holds final judgment over your eternal future! And your feet remain planted just a few feet away.
Staring straight ahead, you only see the legs of his throne. Your eyes trace those legs up higher and higher; your head tilts back more and more, reminding you of just insignificant you are compared to him. [T]he train of his robe fill[s] the temple. Exquisite white linen sprawls across the polished floor, touching each wall, covering every square inch that you dare not step on these unsoiled garments.
Above him were seraphs… such unique angels that we know nothing more about them other than what Scripture says here. These angelic beings flash like flames of fire, showcasing the power and the purity found in this temple. Look up; see seraph after seraph after seraph fill the space above your head. [Each one has] six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.
And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” You sing the same song in the Common Service. Ho-ly, ho-ly, ho-ly Lord God of heav-en-ly hosts: heav’n and earth are full of your glory Yet, they do not prepare for Holy Communion. These seraphs trumpet a very truthful reality: God is holy. That means two things: (1) Holy: the Lord has no moral fault; he is perfect. (2) Holy: the Lord stands opposed to everything and everyone that is imperfect. Holy: because he is set apart from our sins.
Does that sound quite right? The puffed up, proud society in which you live boom: “Hey! Wait just a minute! Who is God that he should call my hate wrong? Who is God that he commands me how to treat my body? Who is God that he condemns my unbelief?” That proud human heart tears down Isaiah’s sight and replaces it with one where the human sits in the throne next to God— or, worse yet, in the throne over the Almighty.
Have you wandered into that arrogance? It comes out when you intentionally skip worship for the boat or for yard-work, but you cover over it with your self-understood excuse: “Well, God understands. I’m busy.” Never mind God commands your whole heart (Matthew 22:37); you can determine to give God part of your love. That proud heart smirks oh-so-smugly at harsh words meant to destroy. “Well, she made me angry.” “Dad needs to get with reality.” “I must exert power over my neighbor.” Never mind God expects words to build up (Matthew 5:22); you must have the authority to overthrow God’s command. That arrogant heart wraps an arm around God, calling him your buddy who understands why you can lose self-control, why it’s acceptable for you to neglect your parenting discipline, why it’s alright for you to create your own beliefs. Inside each of us is this heart which believes it sits on the throne of God. That it sits in authority over God. That you are free to live according to your rules. That God is honored by your presence.
Do you see who sits on the throne? Not you. Not me. Not the seraphim either. In fact, even the seraphim tremble at the sight. The ones already in heaven cannot even look at the face of God! So how can you (and I), mere mortals living in an unclean world approach God and live? The best we can is join with Isaiah, trembling, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
The LORD God Almighty is Holy, Holy, Holy. He stands apart from our sins. Yet, your
Holy, Holy, Holy LORD God Almighty cleanses you with his life.
Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar… The altar. The place of sacrifice. The place where blameless animal after blameless animal sacrificed its life to remove sin.
Flying from the altar of forgiveness, the seraph touches [Isaiah’s] mouth [with that coal] and says, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” A holy God does not sweep Isaiah away into the very depths of hell. The God of patience and mercy cleanses him with his life.
Your Holy, Holy, Holy LORD God Almighty deals with you in the same patience and mercy. God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son (John 3:16), the disciple John writes. God the Father sends his only Son into a life soiled with sin’s awful grime. The devil pushed pride before him. Jesus faces the pull to run away from the cross and live a cushy earthly life. Yet, he never does. He treasures the Word of the Holy God above all things— remaining the Holy One of God.
This Holy One, the One seated on this magnificent, towering throne steps down and humbles himself. Leaving heaven, he takes the form of a servant, allowing corrupt men to spit on him, punch his face, crush a mockery into his head, and nail him to a cross. God so loved you that he laid his one and only Son on the altar of the cross in order to cleanse you.
Jesus leaves his tomb and says: See… your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for. Jesus bridges the gap between you and God; that’s what is meant by the word “atone:” Jesus makes you “at-one” with God. At your baptism the Triune God announces, “Look, this water and my Word has touched you: your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” At the altar, Jesus touches you with his body and blood, together with the bread and wine, and says: See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Jesus has removed the stained garments of arrogance and dressed you in splendid white robes. He has washed grimy pride away. He has cleansed an arrogant ego. He makes you (and me) acceptable to approach the Holy, Holy, Holy LORD God Almighty because his holy life has been used to cleanse you.
Now cleansed, your Triune God calls you to a holy life. Just look at Isaiah. Just moments earlier trembles at the sight of approaching a holy God, fearing his life would roar to a violent close. Yet, a merciful God sets him free from bondage to hell. Set free from threats of death, he is free to serve God with a willing heart and life. He heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” [Isaiah] said, “Here am I. Send me!” Touched by that forgiving love, he is transformed to share it with many others.
God may not have called you to be a minister or missionary. Yet, he has called you into a new way of living. Forgiven, restored, brought into his family, you can approach God with confidence.
Your singing of “Holy, Holy, Holy!” comes not from fear, but from hearts thriving on the forgiveness through a Triune God. You shout: “Holy! Holy! Holy! Is the LORD Almighty!” giving God credit for his perfection and him giving you that perfection for eternal life in heaven. You praise God as you read your Meditations devotions. You praise God as you study God’s Word in Bible class. You praise God as you take his Word into your hearts. You demonstrate proper love for God as you place him in the first-place spot of your hearts. His Word drowns out your words… and thoughts… and opinions. You are following the One who is Holy, Holy, Holy!
You bring your offerings to God. Gifts of money, of your time, and of your talents. You support a minister bringing God’s Word to your ears and heart— and to your friends and community. You offer God a beautiful space where he might reign and dwell. You serve him from a heart motivated by love. The Holy, Holy, Holy LORD God Almighty has called you to a holy life.
On this Trinity Sunday, you stand between two halves of our church readings. From Advent (end-November) through Pentecost (mid-May), we study the life of Christ: his faultless birth, innocent living, and perfect life sacrificed, and triumphant resurrection. Now, after today, the focus shifts from the steps taken to save us to the teachings Jesus gives over his three-year ministry.
You are ready for this growth. Your Holy, Holy, Holy LORD God Almighty has ushered you into his grand temple. You look up to see the One high and exalted, seated on his magnificent throne. Yet, you do not fear. Through the blood of Jesus, the Father declares you forgiven. The Holy Spirit points at your baptism as evidence that you belong to God. Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD God Almighty! He stands apart from sin. His life cleanses us. He calls us to a holy life.
Lisa craved to be adopted. Every morning she opened her eyes, imagining waking up in her own bedroom with her own mother gently caressing her cheek and her own father warmly smiling in the doorway. She daydreamed sitting at the dinner table, recounting the events of her school-day to parents leaning in with excitement. She closed her eyes each night dreaming of a father pushing her on the backyard tree-swing while mom beamed with pride.
Then it happened. A soft voice floated through the air, “We’re thinking about adopting you.” Lisa looked up to see a blonde-haired woman wearing a flowered sundress standing in the doorway beside a clean-shaven man whose arm wrapped around her waist. “But, before we adopt you, we want to bring you home for a month,” she continued. “At the end of 30-days, we will make our decision.”
Can you imagine the emotions twisting through Lisa? She hugged both tightly, but made sure not to pinch them. She hopped out to the car with her bags, but still gently loaded them into the trunk. She gladly finished her chores, but anxiously wondered if her parents were satisfied. For 30 days she obeyed and respected and made sure not to be the cause of frustration or irritation. Only after day-30 would she know if her efforts were enough.
Another couple stood in her doorway. This time a firm declaration went out: “We have adopted you. You have become our family. You are one of us.” No trial period. No conditions. The papers were signed; the adoption finalized.
How do think Lisa responded to this second set of parents? She would obey them! She would respect them! She would love them! No, not because she fears rejection. Rather, she loves because she is set free from fear! She loves because she is accepted already! The conditions of Lisa’s adoption governs how she lives.
The same is true for you. The conditions of your adoption govern how you live. That is an important truth to remember as you live your Christian life. God sets your attention on the empty tomb. There you discover: The Resurrection Brings New Life. You have been born into victory. You have been born to overcome the world.
The resurrection really does change everything. Because Jesus lives, you also will live (John 14:19). The disciple John connects the events of the resurrection to your life now. Yet, before he ever tells you how you live, he starts by reminding you who you are. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God… Remember what the name “Christ” means. [It means] “Anointed One.” To “anoint” means to “set someone aside for a specific purpose or mission.” Jesus is not “set aside” to free the Jews from Roman rule. He is not appointed as a motivational Speaker with words to inspire you for a better earthly life. No, Jesus is “anointed” (or “set aside”) for the specific purpose of taking away your sins (John 1:29).
That is what Jesus comes to do for you— because without him, you (and I) are dead. The Bible says, You are conceived and born in sin (Psalm 51:5). The punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23). You cannot change that fact. If you are without sin— never hating, never lying, never gossiping, never holding resentment— if you are perfect, you have no fear of death. Yet, death comes to all because all sinned (Romans 5:12). You are dead by nature, doomed to eternal death in hell. Not just that, you are dead spiritually (Ephesians 2:1). You cannot live to please God. You cannot choose to come to faith by praying and inviting Jesus into your heart (John 15:16). The Bible makes it clear: Faith comes from hearing the message and the Holy Spirit creates faith in the heart (Romans 10:17; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Titus 3:5). Just like Lisa could not choose her parents, you (and I) cannot choose to come to faith. Without Jesus there is no eternal hope.
That is why John holds Jesus up high for all to see, as though saying, “Pay attention! Look! This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. See Jesus walk into the water of the Jordan River at his baptism. The heavens instantly rip open, the Holy Spirit comes down as a dove and God the Father trumpets: “This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17). It’s as though a spotlight shines on Jesus, highlighting him as special. This man right here(!) comes from heaven. He is perfect. He is your payment, your Substitute for sin.
[Jesus] did not come by water only, but by water and blood. He not only lives a perfect life, but he gives a perfect life by his death on the cross. On Mount Calvary Roman soldiers crush thorns into his skull. Nails are pounded into his hands and feet. A soldier spears his side. As Jesus’ blood trickles down the cross, his life slowly trickles away until he dies. For three days he lies in the grave. Then on Easter, he rises from the dead. He appears to you saying, “The wages of sin has been stamped ‘Paid in Full!’ Peace be with you!” (John 20:19)
Jesus is the ‘Christ!’ He has been set aside for the specific purpose of adopting you into the family of God. His blood is the ink which frees you from the orphanage of hell. His perfect life are
the adoption papers that declare you his. He brings you up to God and says, “This is my Father—and now he is your Father too” (John 20:17). Jesus lays a hand on your shoulder saying, “My house has many rooms. I have your room prepared” (John 14:2-3).
What have you (or I) done to deserve this? If you look at the words you have used over this past week, if you honestly reflect on the selfish thoughts you had, if you admit the hurt of your actions, you realize you have done nothing. Jesus has done it all— free of charge!
The Resurrection Brings New Life. Keep looking back at the empty tomb and see that You have been born into victory. Because Jesus lives, you already have victory over death. You will not stay in the ground forever, you will rise immortal. You will not enter hell; you will enter heaven. [You] who believe that Jesus is the Christ [have been] born of God. God has brought you an entirely new way of life. Not just life to look forward to, but a new way of life now. You have been born to overcome the world.
That’s what John says. [F]or everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. The Bible often uses [the word] world as a reference to everything that stands against God. The “world” can refer to a proud, arrogant attitude. The “world” can refer to the greedy love for wealth in this life. The “world” can refer to adultery, murder, stealing, gossiping, hatred, love for anything that is not God— the actions non-Christians do not consider to be wrong (1 John 2:15-16). Remember who you are. You have been adopted into God’s family. Since you live with God, it means you live on the side of God. Since you live on the side of God, it means you stand opposed that which stands opposed to God; you stand against the world.
You have been born to overcome the world— to fight against sinful desires. Better yet, you now life a Christian life. But, what does that mean— a Christian life? The kneejerk reaction is to say, “Live a ‘good’ life?” Here’s the question: “What is a ‘good’ life?”
God does not leave it up to you (or me) to determine what a Christian life is or how it looks. He simply says: This is how we know that we love the children of God: (1) by loving God and (2) carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. A Christian life is obeying the Ten Commandments.
Before you set out by saying, “Alright! I can do it!” Remember your motivation for loving God. Little orphan Lisa obeys, respects, and loves her new parents. Why? Not because she must succeed in trial period. Rather, she loves because she is already accepted! Lisa has nothing to earn or prove. Lisa lives out of thanks for her new parents. In the same way, you (and I) love God’s commands. You have nothing to prove to God. You are not trying to earn his love; you already possess it. You are not trying to make sure you go to heaven; you already have a room there. You are set free from the fear of rejection. This is why John points you to the empty tomb first. Since (1) you already are made a child of God by faith, (2) you are free to live as a child of God by faith.
So, you have been born into a new life which overcomes the world. No longer is life about fighting to get more money. You already have heaven! What more is there to gain? So, you give generous offerings to God because God has been generous to you. No longer must you fight to gain more popularity! God calls you “His.” What better title is there? None! So, you are kind and patient to those around you. You encourage the depressed. You let others go first. You put the needs of [grand]kids ahead of your schedules. No longer do you hold onto grudges in order to hold onto power over another. God holds no grudge against you. So, you work to reconcile with your family, your child, your friend. You have been born to overcome the world. See what Jesus has made you. See how you live on his side. As a result, you will naturally stand out from those who stand against God.
The conditions of your adoption govern the way you live. Remember little orphan Lisa. Her first set of parents demand that she earns their love. She cannot do that. Yes, she would obey. She would love them. Yet, she would never know if it was enough. She would live in constant fear. Yet, being chosen by the second parents motivates her to an entirely new way of living. She loves because she is set free from fear! She loves because she is accepted!
My friends, Easter Day continues every day. Jesus rose from the dead once— and the results continue on. As you ponder how to live a Christian life, first set your attention back on the empty tomb. It all starts there. Jesus has adopted you into God’s family. No trial period. No conditions. The papers are signed with the life and blood of Jesus. The adoption is final.
So, you are set free for life. You live free to serve and others. No, not because you must, but because you already have everything. The Resurrection Brings New Life. You have been born into victory. You have been born to overcome the world.
(from Easter Sunrise service...)
The warm, bright sun was melting the snow into a slushy, sloppy mess. His feet burrowed into a firm spot in the fresh, soft earth. A few feet away from him opened a hole measuring four-feet wide, eight-feet long, and six-feet deep. Above this pit was suspended a casket.
Off to the side several young girls sobbed, heaving, gasping for little shots of air. Tears dripped down their cheeks. Lips bent into trembling frowns. This is grandma— someone who impacted their lives. She cradled them as babies and watched them at night. She taught them how to ride horses. Helped with homework. Smiled and laughed, told jokes and fabulous stories. Now she’s gone. Closed in a casket. Lowered into the earth. Never again to step foot into their homes. Never again to step into their lives.
As the creaky crank carefully lowered the casket into its vault, a sharp rebuke cut through the air: “Be happy! Come on, this is a celebration!” Those words may have cut deeper than the sight of death itself.
Demanding that people be happy at a funeral does not automatically bring happiness. Call it a celebration if you will. Tell jokes. Drink beer. Blast rock ballads. Relive memories. Yet, those human efforts do not stop the source of tears. Paint death as this beautiful escape from life, but it still leaves an empty hollowness inside.
You see, human solutions offer very little comfort when confronting death. Your Jesus does not skirt around the cause of death; he confronts death head-on. Because Jesus lives, you also may boast in the face of death: I Know My Redeemer Lives! This is our reality. This is our confidence.
Listen to our reading from Job 19:25-27. 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. How my heart yearns within me!
What a marvelous truth to hear— because we can so easily overlook it! Tucked right in the middle of those words is a reality we are all too familiar with: “My skin is destroyed.” That is not a pleasant thought. Yet, it is a reality every single person faces— whether you want to admit it or not. Babies are born. They enter this world without blemishes, healthy, have all these years ahead of them. Yet, the minute that baby arrives, the clock of life keeps ticking down. Babies get older. Teeth come in and fall out. Bones grow longer and then grow brittle. The mind learns and later forgets. Eventually that young, healthy baby grows into his own aches and pains, sore joints, cancer and disease, and watches death approach ever closer.
That’s why our Bible reading says: After my skin has been destroyed. It’s not a matter of “if” you get older; it’s a matter of “as” you get older.
That is a reality the entire world faces. That is not much to celebrate. Yes, shake a fist at death. Say: “Ha-ha, Death! I still have a smile plastered to my face!” Drink beer and blast rock ballads. Yet, none of those human solutions address the real issue of death. Paint death as this beautiful escape from life. But it will not stop the tears from flowing at the graveside.
In order to solve the problem of death you must deal with the cause of death. The cause, God explains, is sin. “Sin” is breaking God’s law (1 John 3:4). This stubborn arrogance refuses to bow down to God’s instructions. Instead, this puffed-up-pride wanders off after the rash foolishness of a faulty heart. That is “sin,” disobedience. “The wages of sin is death,” the Bible says (Romans 6:23). That’s the punishment; the soul who sins is the soul who will die (Ezekiel 18:4). Death came to all people because all sinned (Romans 5:12).
But that sounds so harsh, doesn’t it? Who wants to hear that? It just drags you down. It is not popular to say or admit. In fact, you may believe (or genuinely feel inside) that God loves you just as you are. That he chuckles when you lose self-control at the bar. That he leans in with balled up fists propping up his chin, nodding in agreement as you explain that you will use your body outside of marriage, how you will reject the parts of his spoken word you don’t agree with, how you have the right to lambast your elected leaders. With great big smug smile you can act this way and God has no right to hand down consequences. And still, remember, the wages of sin is death.
Not just the end of time on earth, but the end of time with God. Those who rebelled against God are thrown into hell, where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched (Isaiah 66:24; Mark 9:48). That’s not really much to celebrate. Yet, that is the reality sin brings.
Here is another reality: My Redeemer Lives! Mary Magdalene races to the tomb, arrives, puzzled. The stone is rolled away. The tomb is vacant. It takes two angels to piece the puzzle together: Jesus is not here! because He has risen! (Luke 24:6)
My Redeemer Lives! To “redeem” means to “buy back.” In the Old Testament, if a widow was on the verge of losing property or found herself in dire financial straits, a close-relative would buy back the property for her. He would buy her back from financial calamity. The debt owed to buy back your life from death in hell is perfection— a price you (and I) could never offer God.
Yet, Jesus, your Redeemer buys you back from spiritual calamity. The Son of God submits to God’s Word. Did you catch that? “Submits.” He obeys his leaders— like Pilate, who sentences him to death. Like Herod, who is a Jew drunk on power and greed. Like Caiaphas the high priest who calls the Son of God a liar! Never does Jesus cut himself off from the Word. Yes, Jesus knows everything in the Bible, but still worships every single week. His heart thrives listening to God’s commandments. Delights in obeying them. He hands over his perfect life as the price needed to buy you back from hell’s dungeon. And God accepts the payment.
He raises Jesus back to life, declaring him to be without sin, without the punishment of death. My Redeemer Lives! This is true! This is seen in a tomb that is empty! This is our reality! My Redeemer Lives! This is our confidence!
You can be absolutely sure that you will live forever in heaven. Jesus is your Redeemer, the One who rose Easter day in order to say: Everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:40).
Even after my skin has been destroyed… Yes, bodies laid into the ground decay. Flesh and skin rot away. Bones dry out into dusty remains. Scoop a handful of sandy dust and you do not see life. The pile is so dry, lifeless, unable to be reassembled. Yet, because your Redeemer lives, in my flesh I will see God. In your flesh. In your body, with your legs standing you up, your neck turning your head, your hands reaching out, your mind comprehending who you see. The God who created Adam from a pile of dust in the Garden of Eden will use his same power to recreate you— and everyone else who died.
Yes, everyone. That includes Adam and Eve. That includes their son, Abel, the one murdered by his brother Cain. That includes those killed in wars fighting for the Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, English, French, and Americans. That includes those lying in marked graves and those lying in unknown locations. That includes those cremated. That includes your mother or father who died. That includes your spouse, your son, your daughter, your Christian friend. Because Jesus lives and declares you guilt-free, it means death cannot hold you. He will raise you from the dead—body re-created, body made immortal. 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. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
Job (the author of our reading) understood that reality. If you have no sin, then you should not die; you should live forever. Since death races towards each of us, it means you are sinful. Since you are sinful, it means you (and I) have turned away from God. The reason to celebrate this morning is not because we ignore what causes death. The reason we celebrate is because Jesus Christ removed the cause of death. Jesus Christ has removed sin from you (and me). And so, I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me. This is our confidence.
I remember standing a few feet away from a hole measuring four-feet wide, eight-feet long, and six-feet deep. Above this pit was suspended a casket. Off to the side several young girls sobbed, heaving, gasping for little shots of air. Tears dripped down their cheeks. Lips bent into trembling frowns. This is grandma— someone who impacted their lives. She cradled them as babies and watched them at night. She taught them how to ride horses. Helped with homework. Smiled and laughed, told jokes and fabulous stories. Now she’s gone. Closed in a casket. Lowered into the earth.
In the end, on the Last Day, the trumpet will sound. Jesus Christ will send his angels to gather the living and the dead. That grave on that hillside will open up. Grandma will sit up, body perfectly restored; flesh and bones immortal. She will open her eyes and see Jesus. Yes, the next person grandma will see is Jesus.
This is the reality for a believer. This is the confidence we carry because Jesus rises from the dead. So yes, blast the music. Relive fantastic memories. Smile—if you wish. But understand the real reason for your celebration. Jesus Christ has removed sin and therefore swallowed up death forever. Jesus, My Redeemer Lives to give me life!
Fear gripped him. He stood still, absolutely paralyzed. The long, dark alley stretched on in front of him for what seemed like miles. But this was his only way home; he had to walk through it, and it was terrifying. Dumpsters hid danger in its shadows. Suspicious people lingered in the distance, eyes locked onto his next move. The alley blocked out public visibility; he would walk by himself; no one would know if he fell into danger. Fear gripped him. He stood still, absolutely paralyzed because he did not know if he would make safely home.
Just as he lifted his foot to take his first step forward, a security guard popped out from a side-door. Can you imagine how he felt? That security guard walked in front of him. Shiny, golden badge glistening on his chest, a badge trumpeting his authority to everyone. Walkie-talkie clipped to his shoulder, ready to call in additional help. Taser on one hip; mace and baton strapped to the other. That sight, oh, that sight melted away his every fear. He felt safe. Even though this security guard marched before him, danger did not automatically disappear. People did not instantly grow warm and friendly. The sight of that security guard and the knowledge of what he is capable of doing fills this man with comfort. With security guard marching before him, he also marched through this dark, dangerous alley confident that he would reach his goal.
Can you relate to that kind of feeling? Troubles can absolutely seize you with fear. You don’t know where to find the answers for cancer. Your heart cries out when yet another responsibility is heaped on you. You feel so hopelessly crushed and burdened when another hope fizzles out. It can feel like you stand at the opening of this long, dark valley of the shadow of death and no one is there to lead you through its awful dangers.
That is why God includes this Transfiguration account in the pages of Scripture. Look with the eyes of faith and watch someone completely capable of handling any danger that comes your way. Jesus Reveals His Glory for you to see and for you to stand in comfort.
Imagine if that security guard’s identity is covered up by street clothes. You don’t see a badge, you don’t see a walkie-talkie, you don’t see a baton or taser. He pops out in front of you, but all you see is just another man who looks like you. You wouldn’t know that he really possesses the power to fight danger. You wouldn’t feel any safer. You need to see his real identity.
The disciples knew Jesus’ real identity is God. After all, they were in the boat when Jesus calmed the stormy sea and howling winds. They watched him take five loaves of bread and two small fish and transform it into a feast for thousands. They witnessed demons fly away screaming, the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, the mute speaking, the paralyzed walking. It led them to confess: You are the Christ! (Mark 8:29). Remember what is meant by calling Jesus: “Christ?” “Christ” means “Anointed One.” When you call Jesus: “Christ,” you are confessing that this person is more than just another man; you confess that he deserves your worship, your songs of praise; you treat him as God because he is God.
The disciples knew Jesus’ real identity is God. Yet, in just a short time, that would not be so clear. Jesus had shared some shocking news with them: the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and after three days rise again (8:31). They will watch the Son of God, the One through whom the universe is created, trudge up Calvary’s hill, beaten, bloodied, bruised, and be killed. Can you imagine what emotions would grip the disciples when they see this? …the desperate fear? …the absolute confusion? …the paralyzing questions of what to do next? Their Jesus would not look so powerful. He would look quite power-less. He would look defeated.
So, After six days… (six days after telling the disciples what must happen) Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. Which is what they need, right? To be alone with Jesus when life’s gut-wrenching troubles weigh heavily on the mind. So, they leave behind the sights of religious leaders scheming against Jesus. They stop thinking about the intimidation of Roman soldiers. They block out the Jewish crowds who misunderstand the purpose of Jesus’ life— they leave it all behind. They stop ministering to those in need, to those who are sick, to those who cry out for help for just a moment and they go to be with Jesus alone.
That’s something we need— not just some times, but all the time. To leave behind the constant anxiety that comes from cancer. To shut off our frustration of watching a society run astray. To stop fretting about personal struggles for just a moment and to spend time alone with Jesus. Why? So that you can see Jesus’ glory.
Up on that mountain, [Jesus] was transfigured before them. Transfigured means Jesus’ appearance changed (or transformed). His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. Jesus is not reflecting light; he radiates light just like the sun shines light. In fact, looking at this transfigured Jesus is like looking directly into the sun. On this mountain Jesus reveals a glimpse of the glory he possesses as God. It’s as though he removes a veil just a little bit so that you can see that he is God.
What a sight! Look at this Mount of Transfiguration and remain focused on who your Jesus truly is. Because the devil will twist your (and my) troubles to darken this scene. He wants you to see Jesus as beaten down by life, bloodied by men stronger than him, and killed without a fight. The devil holds up the picture of Calvary in front of our eyes hoping to convince us that this is the real Jesus: powerless, defeated, crushed.
And if we’re honest with ourselves, the devil often succeeds, doesn’t he? He succeeds in getting us to fall into despair and to feel that Jesus has no power to help.
The doctor walks in with a cancer diagnosis. You may be the one who has to undergo radiation and chemotherapy. You may be the one who has to sit beside your beloved spouse (or friend). You know the body will get tired and grow weak. Not to mention, there’s always the lingering fear that treatments will not help. It gets scary because this is something so out of your control— and it may feel that you have nowhere to turn for solid strength.
Life changes— and it gets stressful. The hobbies you once did, you can no longer do. Time heaps new responsibilities on you: a new job with a new schedule and the need for money, the ever-changing needs of children, your ailing spouse, your parents who rely on you. The stress from these responsibilities can just press you down.
Or you realize a habit is growing into something worse. Self-control is slipping through your fingers. You’re losing control over the thoughts in your head. Your incessant fretting over politics is consuming you. It feels as though no one is able to reach down and bring you out of this darkness and into safety. It can feel like you are all alone, walking through this valley of the shadow of death, hopelessly drifting from day to day.
That is why Jesus Reveals His Glory. He’s like that security guard who pops out a side-door and instantly fills you with peace. Jesus Reveals His Glory for you to see.
Did you notice that? Listen again. After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. Before them! Before Peter, James, and John! Jesus does not hike up the mountain alone, stand in a little nook, shine his glory as God, speak with Moses and Elijah in secret, come back down the mountain and act as though nothing happened. He brings Peter, James, and John to this very special mountain so that they can see with their eyes that Jesus is God— their God.
Yes, for a brief time Jesus’ glory will be hidden. He marches up Calvary carrying sin on his back. Nails hold him to the cross. He hangs under God’s angry frown. He will look so powerless. Yet, he is actually powerfully crushing the head of the devil. The devil wants us to believe that God does not love us. He wants us to believe that the presence of trouble and the feeling of fear means God does not care. Yet, Jesus destroys those lies by living and dying for us.
Then, Easter Sunday, that glory radiates from the empty tomb! Jesus has won! He has conquered Satan! He has opened heaven for you and me! Jesus Reveals His Glory on the Mount of Transfiguration to show us that God deals with our sins. Jesus Reveals His Glory on the Mount of Transfiguration to show us the full glory he has now and the resurrected and living Savior!
Jesus Reveals His Glory for you to see and know beyond any doubt he is God. Jesus Reveals His Glory for you to see so that you may stand in comfort.
As the disciples stand around Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” If we forget Jesus’ identity, then listen to God the Father. If there’s any worry that Jesus has limitations, then listen to God the Father. If you do not know where to turn in trouble, if you feel alone and abandoned, if you feel hopeless, then listen to God the Father say This is my Son.
More than that, Jesus is my beloved one. Not just God’s friend. Not someone God just has sincere feelings for. God himself says that he gives you his very best. Jesus is not leftovers or unwanted. He is loved— and the Father sends you his most loved treasure to make sure that you can be forever connected to him.
Jesus Reveals His Glory for you to stand in comfort. As you watch this Transfiguration scene, you realize you have a place to turn in times of trouble.
The devil will still try to block out Jesus’ power. He will whisper: “Sickness proves God does not love you.” Don’t listen to the lies. Listen to Jesus who comes to earth because he loves you. He dies for you. He promises eternal life to you. This is evidence of his love. The devil will push: “You’re all alone to make life-choices.” Don’t listen to the lie. Listen to Jesus who speaks unchanging promises in the Bible. The devil will question: “Why follow him? Look how tough life is!” Don’t listen to the lie. Remember this: Jesus suffered too. He suffers for sins he did not commit. In fact, he could have ran away from paying for our sins. Instead, he listens to the Word of God. He listens to the Word even though the Word of God leads him to the cross. Yet, because he holds to the Word of God he wins heaven. You (and I) continue holding to the promises of God even though life appears dark. We hold to this Word because we too will rise in glory.
Troubles can absolutely seize you with fear. You don’t know where to find the answers for cancer. Your heart cries out when yet another responsibility is heaped on you. You feel so hopelessly crushed and burdened when another hope fizzles out. It can feel like you stand at the opening of this long, dark valley of the shadow of death and no one is there to lead you through its awful dangers.
So, Jesus Reveals His Glory for you to see. For you to see his power as God. The sight of Jesus with you and the knowledge of what he is capable of doing fills you with comfort. Just like a security guard marching before you, so you (and I) can march through life confident that we will reach our heavenly goal.
That is why God includes this Transfiguration account in the pages of Scripture. Look with the eyes of faith and watch someone completely capable of handling any danger that comes your way. Jesus Reveals His Glory for you to see and for you to stand in comfort.