Archive for the ‘Mark 9:2-9’ Category

It Is Good To Be Here!

Sunday, February 11th, 2018

Transfiguration of our Lord Sunday B, February 11, 2018
Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
http://www.tlcsd.org
Mark 9:2-9


Click here for audio of this message

“And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here.” [Mark 9:5a]

Have you ever had something happen to you, which was so profound that it seemed to change how you look at everything in your life? Peter, James, and John did, but to understand their experience correctly, we need to look at their recent experiences with Jesus.

In the last couple of years, the apostles experienced one miracle after another; they must have felt like they were on top of the world.

And then, out of nowhere, Jesus started talking about denying themselves, taking up their cross and following Him into suffering and death! Why, He even said that if they wanted to save their lives they must first lose them. Then He said that even He would need to suffer and die at the hands of sinful men in order to fulfill the will of the Father.

Now to Peter, that was crazy talk, and he didn’t want to listen to anymore of that doom and gloom, so he took Jesus aside and tried to enlighten Him on how He thought a Messiah should speak. But Jesus wouldn’t have any of that; that was the devil speaking not Peter, so Jesus rebuked Peter with the often-quoted words, “Get behind me Satan.” He said that Peter was seeking the way of the world, and not the way of God!

Peter and the other apostles must have been thinking, “What’s going on here? This isn’t what I signed up for! What happened to all of the happy-clappy times that come with “walking and talking with our minds stayed on Jesus” the Messiah?” You see, they wanted more of the glory, fame, and high life, but Jesus was telling them that instead of living large and in-charge, they would need to experience suffering, shame, and death.

And then out of nowhere, Jesus gave them this little bit of information to think about: “Some of you will not taste death until you see the kingdom of God come in power.” [Mark 9:1]

So now, six days later there is Peter along with James, and John, up on a mountaintop, watching Jesus pray.

Little did they know that they were about to experience the kingdom of God in all of its glory and power! It was getting late and they were tired; their eyes got heavy when all of a sudden, boom! It was as if all of the light in the world was pouring out of Jesus and the two visitors that suddenly appeared. And they weren’t just any visitors either; they were Moses and Elijah!
The three earth bound apostles were overwhelmed with the experience. The other gospels tell us that Jesus, Moses and Elijah were speaking about Jesus death, resurrection, and the day He would leave this sinful world, but Peter skipped right over those Words. All he seemed to care about was the glory! He must have thought, “Now this is the kind of Messiah I signed up to follow!” So with a mixture of fear and excitement (after all he was standing in the presence of God and the two greatest heroes of faith that ever lived), Peter interrupts Jesus’ discussion with these deep and insightful words: “(Hey, a) Rabbi, it is (a)good (thing) that we’re here (with you).” Do you want me to pitch a few tents for you and your guests?

I call that a Homer Simpson moment: “Dolp!”
With all of the responses someone should or could have had, maybe something like Alleluia, why in the world did Peter ruin that divine moment with such a stupid statement and question? And after Peter’s Homer Simpson moment, what happened next? A thick cloud suddenly appeared and Moses and Elijah were gone.

The experience was over. Or as B.B. King would say, the thrill is gone. But why? Well simply put, Peter’s attention was centered on what He was experiencing and not the Words He was hearing. He completely missed the conversation about Jesus leaving this world; he missed it because it was another message about suffering and death.

Aren’t we a lot like Peter too?

We love it when we come to church and we get to sing our favorite hymn or spiritual. We love it when the preacher is talking about heaven and what a time will have there with no more suffering, pain, sickness, and death, but as soon as the message starts showing us where we fall short or what God expects from us, we tune it out.

We love to be entertained for about an hour, but as soon as the service starts cutting into our Sunday afternoon plans we get fidgety, and then irritated! We love the fellowship and coffee but get bored with the liturgy and ritual! You see, like Peter we say that it’s good to be here in church, but only if it meets our desires; as soon as worship time gets personal we become nervous and hope that it ends soon.

Now you might not interrupt the sermon or the readings with a foolish statement like Peter’s, but you too have your Homer Simpson moments. For you, it happens the minute you tune out to what’s happening in Divine Service and tune into what you wish was happening. Peter wanted to silence the conversation and stay in the glory moment, and we aren’t any better. We love those mountaintop highs of worship, and if we could make it happen, that’s all we would ever experience.

Does that mean that emotion during worship is bad? No, not at all, but the good times aren’t suppose to be the center of why we worship. So what’s the solution?

Well, we just need to let Jesus be Jesus and then let Him do what He does.

Do you see what I just did? I took the emphasis off of you and me and put it on Jesus. That’s always the solution to most every thing, isn’t it? Yes church, we must remember that worship, our worship of God is simply our response to what He has done and is doing right now for us! This is what we call Divine Service; God’s service amongst and within us; His work of dealing with our sins. If we really stoped to think about what’s really going on around us and within us each time we attend Divine Service (the devil being defeated, our sin being removed, and our eternal death being trounced, all as our faith to believe all of this is strengthened exponentially) we would not let anything get in the way of our attending Divine Service.

In our Epistle lesson, St. Paul talked about a veil that remains over the eyes of the unbelieving Jews. For us, that veil represents our flesh or physical desires; its our natural way of trying to get what we want, but Jesus always gives us what we need. When we listen to Jesus, the Word of God, God Himself removes the veil of this world off of our spiritual eyes and He allows us to see an entirely different reality… a spiritual one. Only through (Jesus) Christ can this veil be taken away.

You see, when we turn to Jesus and what He is doing or saying and receive that Word and that Word only, the veil is removed; we are freed from our own expectations of what our Christian faith and worship is, and then we can truly hear what Jesus is really saying. And when we hear what Jesus is saying, then and only then can we be transformed slowly but surely, into the same image and glory of our Lord.

Peter and the boys missed the obvious. They were awed by Jesus’ glory, because He was their man, the Messiah who would be their champion by righting all wrongs. They were so excited about what they thought Jesus would do that they missed what God had already done. There standing with Jesus, were Moses and Elijah shining in the same glory as Jesus. Moses the great teacher who brought us God’s law, was listening to Jesus. Elijah, the great prophet who was taken up to heaven in bodily form, was listening too.

What did it all mean? Only Jesus could explain it; and to make sure that they would one day understand, God’s Divine Service kicked into action again. Moses and Elijah disappeared within a dense cloud of God’s glory and the voice of the Father announced: “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him.”

How does our worship go wrong?

It happens when we shut down our hearts and minds to the message in exchange for the experience. How does God make things right? By taking our focus off of the experience and putting it back onto the Word, this Word: “Jesus is My beloved Son, my elected One; LISTEN TO HIM!”

The truth is, without the Word of God speaking to us, there can be no experience. What is the experience? Dying and living and Living and dying. In the Word you hear God’s law make demands that you can never meet; this is a Word that terrifies you, because you are a sinner standing in the middle of God’s perfect and blinding glory, and the result is your death, the death of your glory.

In the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news about His life, death, resurrection, and ascension, you hear about a loving God who came to you, to take away your sins; the result is new life, a life free of condemnation and full of God’s love. In this good news you are taught that Jesus walked the painful way to the cross for you; He suffered and died to pay for your sins. In His death He conquered not just your sin and the devil, but also your own death. In His death and resurrection, all things can be new again, even you!

In your baptism, Jesus brought you into His glory by drowning and destroying your old sinful nature and by bringing you into the cloud of His divine presence. In your baptism He chose you and He cleansed you. And what He cleanses, He also molds and changes. What He molds, He fills. And what He fills, He uses. So now, you live! Every day you choose to live for God as you put to death your old sinful and self-serving nature; you live for God and you live for others!

Dear friends, God is leading us out into the real world; a place where there is real suffering and pain. But He is leading us out with our hearts and minds focused on His Word and the real change He’s made and is making within each of us. When you get afraid or tired, and just feel like quitting, think of this place and all of the wonderful gifts that God has given to you here, all so that you would be His witness of love and life in a dying world. Think of His glory that He has placed within you; a glory that can’t be seen with physical eyes but will one day shine as bright as the glory of our Lord’s own Transfiguration. And when you remember these things, it’s alright to feel excited but just remember emotions will eventually die off, and then it’s just you and Jesus.

So, until we meet again next Sunday for our next encounter with God’s divine service and our next foretaste of the glory to come, may He forever lead and guide you by the Word of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior… AMEN!

It Is Good To Be Here!

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Transfiguration of our Lord Sunday B, February 15, 2015

Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
http://www.tlcsd.org

Mark 9:2-9

Click here for audio of this message

“And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here.” [Mark 9:5a]

Have you ever had something happen to you, which was so profound that it seemed to change how you look at everything in your life?  Peter, James, and John did, but to understand their experience correctly, we need to look at their recent experiences with Jesus.  In the last couple of years, they experienced one miracle after another; they must have felt like they were on top of the world.  And then, out of nowhere, Jesus started talking about denying themselves, taking up their cross and following Him into suffering and death!  Why, He even said that if they wanted to save their lives they must first lose them.  Then He said that even He would need to suffer and die at the hands of sinful men in order to fulfill the will of the Father.

Now to Peter, that was crazy talk, and he didn’t want to listen to anymore of that doom and gloom, so he took Jesus aside and tried to enlighten Him on how He thought a Messiah should speak.  But Jesus wouldn’t have any of that; that was the devil speaking not Peter, so Jesus rebuked Peter with the often-quoted words, “Get behind me Satan.”  He said that Peter was seeking the way of the world, and not the way of God!

Peter and the other apostles must have been thinking, “What’s going on here?  This isn’t what I signed up for!  What happened to all of the happy-clappy times that come with “walking and talking with our minds stayed of Jesus” the Messiah?”  You see, they wanted more of the glory, fame, and high life, but Jesus was telling them that instead of living large and in-charge, they would need to experience suffering, shame, and death.  And then out of nowhere, Jesus gave them this little bit of information to think about: “Some of you will not taste death until you see the kingdom of God come in power.” [Mark 9:1]

So now, six days later there is Peter along with James, and John, up on a mountaintop, watching Jesus pray.  Little did they know that they were about to experience the kingdom of God in all of its glory and power!  It was getting late and they were tired; their eyes got heavy when all of a sudden, boom!  It was as if all of the light in the world was pouring out of Jesus and the two visitors that suddenly appeared.  And they weren’t just any visitors either; they were Moses and Elijah!

The three earth bound apostles were overwhelmed with the experience.  The other gospels tell us that Jesus, Moses and Elijah were speaking about Jesus death, resurrection, and the day He would leave this sinful world, but Peter skipped right over those Words.  All he seemed to care about was the glory!  He must have thought, “Now this is the kind of Messiah I signed up to follow!”  So with a mixture of fear and excitement (after all he was standing in the presence of God and the two greatest heroes of faith that ever lived), Peter interrupts Jesus’ discussion with these deep and insightful words: “(Hey, a) Rabbi, it is (a)good (thing) that we’re here (with you).”  Do you want me to pitch a few tents for you and your guests?

I call that a Homer Simpson moment: “Dolp!”

With all of the responses someone should or could have had, maybe something like Alleluia, why in the world did Peter ruin that divine moment with such a stupid statement and question?  And after Peter’s Homer Simpson moment, what happened next?  A thick cloud suddenly appeared and Moses and Elijah were gone.

The experience was over.  Or as B.B. King would say, the thrill is gone.  But why?  Well simply put, Peter’s attention was centered on what He was experiencing and not the Words He was hearing.  He completely missed the conversation about Jesus leaving this world; he missed it because it was another message about suffering and death.

Aren’t we a lot like Peter too? We love it when we come to church and we get to sing our favorite hymn or spiritual.  We love it when the preacher is talking about heaven and what a time will have there with no more suffering, pain, sickness, and death, but as soon as the message starts showing us where we fall short or what God expects from us, we tune it out.

We love to be entertained for about an hour, but as soon as the service starts cutting into our Sunday afternoon plans we get fidgety, and then irritated!  We love the fellowship and coffee but get bored with the liturgy and ritual!  You see, like Peter we say that it’s good to be here in church, but only if it meets our desires; as soon as worship time gets personal we become nervous and hope that it ends soon.

Now you might not interrupt the sermon or the readings with a foolish statement like Peter’s, but you too have your Homer Simpson moments.  For you, it happens the minute you tune out to what’s happening in Divine Service and tune into what you wish was happening.  Peter wanted to silence the conversation and stay in the glory moment, and we aren’t any better.  We love those mountaintop highs of worship, and if we could make it happen, that’s all we would ever experience.

Does that mean that emotion during worship is bad?  No, not at all, but the good times aren’t suppose to be the center of why we worship.  So what’s the solution?

Well, we just need to let Jesus be Jesus and then let Him do what He does. Do you see what I just did?  I took the emphasis off of you and me and put it on Jesus.  That’s always the solution to most every thing, isn’t it?  Yes church, we must remember that worship, our worship of God is simply our response to what He has done and is doing right now for us!  This is what we call Divine Service; God’s service amongst and within us; His work of dealing with our sins.

In our Epistle lesson, St. Paul talked about a veil that remains over the eyes of the unbelieving Jews.  For us, that veil represents our flesh or physical desires; its our natural way of trying to get what we want, but Jesus always gives us what we need.  When we listen to Jesus, the Word of God, God Himself removes the veil of this world off of our spiritual eyes and He allows us to see an entirely different reality… a spiritual one.  Only through (Jesus) Christ can this veil be taken away.

You see, when we turn to Jesus and what He is doing or saying and receive that Word and that Word only, the veil is removed; we are freed from our own expectations of what our Christian faith and worship is, and then we can truly hear what Jesus is really saying.  And when we hear what Jesus is saying, then and only then can we be transformed slowly but surely, into the same image and glory of our Lord.

Peter and the boys missed the obvious.  They were awed by Jesus’ glory, because He was their man, the Messiah who would be their champion by righting all wrongs.  They were so excited about what they thought Jesus would do that they missed what God had already done.  There standing with Jesus, were Moses and Elijah shining in the same glory as Jesus.  Moses the great teacher who brought us God’s law, was listening to Jesus.  Elijah, the great prophet who was taken up to heaven in bodily form, was listening too.  What did it all mean?  Only Jesus could explain it; and to make sure that they would one day understand, God’s Divine Service kicked into action again.  Moses and Elijah disappeared within a dense cloud of God’s glory and the voice of the Father announced: “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him.”

How does our worship go wrong? It happens when we shut down our hearts and minds to the message in exchange for the experience.  How does God make things right?  By taking our focus off of the experience and putting it back onto the Word, this Word:  “Jesus is My beloved Son, my elected One; LISTEN TO HIM!”

The truth is, without the Word of God speaking to us, there can be no experience.  What is the experience?  Dying and living and Living and dying.  In the Word you hear God’s law make demands that you can never meet; this is a Word that terrifies you, because you are a sinner standing in the middle of God’s perfect and blinding glory, and the result is your death, the death of your glory.

In the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news about His life, death, resurrection, and ascension, you hear about a loving God who came to you, to take away your sins; the result is new life, a life free of condemnation and full of God’s love.  In this good news you are taught that Jesus walked the painful way to the cross for you; He suffered and died to pay for your sins.  In His death He conquered not just your sin and the devil, but also your own death.  In His death and resurrection, all things can be new again, even you!

In your baptism, Jesus brought you into His glory by drowning and destroying your old sinful nature and by bringing you into the cloud of His divine presence.  In your baptism He chose you and He cleansed you.  And what He cleanses, He also molds and changes.  What He molds, He fills.  And what He fills, He uses.  So now, you live!  Every day you choose to live for God as you put to death your old sinful and self-serving nature; you live for God and you live for others!

This is the true nature of our hidden life in Jesus. When the light show is over and the glory cloud vanishes, there is no one but you and Jesus, but not the bright as the sun Jesus, but the flesh and blood Jesus.  He’s the one who moves around in this world of sin, suffering and dying for sinners.  He’s the One who speaks to them and through His Word makes them saints.  How does He do that?  Through the proclamation of His church… through you and me!

Remember in our gospel reading when He told the three not to say a word to anyone about what they had seen until He had risen from the dead?  Well that time has come and gone.  In case you haven’t noticed, everyone who knows is telling anyone who doesn’t what Jesus life, death, resurrection and ascension means!  They are telling them that they are free of shame, worry, and fear.  So now, guess what?  It’s your turn to share the good news.  But you can only do that if you come down off of the mountain top of worship and go out into the real world where there are real sinful and hurting people, dying without knowing Jesus.  The exciting part about all of this is the fact that God wants to reach them through you!

Are you a little afraid to share this good news?  That’s alright; Peter and the others were afraid too.  They didn’t want to leave the safety and awesomeness of their worship experience, but they had to, because Jesus led them out, and He’ll lead you too!  Dear friends, God is leading us out into the real world; a place where there is real suffering and pain.  But He is leading us out with our hearts and minds focused on His Word and the real change He’s made and is making within each of us.  When you get afraid or tired, and just feel like quitting, think of this place and all of the wonderful gifts that God has given to you here, all so that you would be His witness of love and life in a dying world.  Think of His glory that He has placed within you; a glory that can’t be seen with physical eyes but will one day shine as bright as the glory of our Lord’s own Transfiguration.  And when you remember these things, it’s alright to feel excited but just remember emotions will eventually die off, and then it’s just you and Jesus.

So, until we meet again next Sunday for our next encounter with God’s divine service and our next foretaste of the glory to come, may He forever lead and guide you by the Word of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior… AMEN!

It Is Good To Be Here!

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Transfiguration of our Lord Sunday B, February 19, 2012
Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA

Mark 9:2-9

Click here for audio of this message

“And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here.” [Mark 9:5a]

Have you ever had an experience so profound that it seemed to reshape your entire outlook on life?  Peter, James, and John did, but to understand  it more deeply, we have to rewind their recent experiences with Jesus.  In the last couple of years, they experienced one miracle after another, and  they must have felt like they were on top of the world, when out of nowhere, Jesus started talking about denying themselves, taking up their cross  and following Him.  Follow him to where?  To suffering and death!  Why He even said that if they wanted to save their lives they must first lose  them.  Then He said that even He would suffer and die at the hands of sinful men in order to fulfill the will of the Father.

Wait… What?!  To Peter, that was crazy talk, and he didn’t want to listen to anymore of that doom and gloom, so he took Jesus aside and tried to  enlighten Him on how He thought a Messiah should speak.  But Jesus wouldn’t have any of that; that was the devil speaking not Peter, so Jesus  rebuked Peter with the often quoted words, “Get behind me Satan.”  He said that Peter was seeking the way of the world, and not the way of God!

Peter and the other apostles must have been thinking, “What’s going on here?  This isn’t what I signed up for!  Where’s all the happy-clappy  moments that come with walking and learning from the Messiah?”  They wanted glory, fame, and the high life, but instead Jesus told them that  suffering, shame, and death were right around the corner.  And then out of nowhere, Jesus gave them this little bit of information to think about:  “Some of you will not taste death until you see the kingdom of God come in power.” [Mark 9:1]

I. So now, six days later there is Peter along with James, and John, up on a mountain top, watching Jesus pray.  Little did they know that they were  about to experience that kingdom of God in all of its glory!  It was getting late and they were tired; their eyes got heavy when all of a sudden, boom!  It was as if all of the light in the world was pouring out of Jesus and the two visitors that suddenly appeared.  And they weren’t just any visitors either; they were Moses and Elijah!

The three earth bound apostles were overwhelmed with the experience.  The other gospels tell us that Jesus, Moses and Elijah were speaking about Jesus death, resurrection, and the day He would leave this sinful world, but Peter skipped right over those Words.  All he noticed was the glory of Jesus… the glory of God!  He must have thought, “Now this is the kind of Messiah I signed up to follow!”  So with a mixture of fear and excitement (after all he was standing in the presence of God and the two greatest heroes of faith that ever lived), and filled with excitement, Peter interrupts Jesus’ discussion with these deep and insightful words: “(Hey, a) Rabbi, it is (a)good (thing) that we’re here (with you).”  Do you want me to pitch a few tents for you and your guests?

I call that a Homer Simpson moment: “Dolp!”. With all of the responses someone should or could have, maybe something like Alleluia, why in the world did he ruin that divine moment with such a stupid statement and question?  And after Peter’s Homer Simpson moment, what happened next?  A thick cloud suddenly appeared and Moses and Elijah were gone.

The experience was over.  Or as B.B. King would say, the thrill is gone.  But why?  Well simply put, Peter’s attention was centered on what He was experiencing and not the Words He was hearing.  He completely missed the conversation about Jesus leaving this world; he missed it because it was another message about suffering and death.

B. Aren’t we a lot like Peter too?  We love it when we come to church and we get to sing our favorite hymn.  We love it when the preacher is talking about heaven and a time where there will be no more suffering, pain, sickness, and death, but as soon as the message starts showing us where we fall short or what God expects from us, we tune it out.

We love to be entertained for about an hour, but as soon as the service starts cutting into our Sunday afternoon plans we get fidgety, and then irritated!  We love the fellowship and coffee but get bored with the liturgy and ritual!  You see, like Peter we say that it’s good to be here in church, but only if it meets our desires; as soon as worship time gets personal we become nervous and hope that it ends soon.

Now you might not interrupt the sermon or the readings with a foolish statement like Peter’s, but you too have your Homer Simpson moments.  For you, it happens the minute you tune out what’s happening in the Word and tune into what you wish was happening.  Peter wanted to silence the conversation and stay in the glory moment, and we aren’t any better.  We love those mountaintop highs of worship, and if we could make it happen, that’s all we would ever experience.

Does that mean that emotion during worship is bad?  No, not at all, but the good times aren’t to be the center of why we worship.  So what’s the solution?

II. Well, we just need to let Jesus be Jesus and then let Him do what He does.  Do you see what I just did?  I took the emphasis off of you and me and put it on Jesus.  That’s always the solution to most every thing, isn’t it?  Yes church, we must remember that worship, our worship of God is simply our response to what He has done and is doing right now for us!  This is what we call Divine Service; God’s service amongst and within us; His work of dealing with our sins.

In our Epistle lesson, St. Paul talked about a veil that remains over the eyes of the unbelieving Jews.  For us, that veil represents our flesh or physical desires; its our natural way of trying to get what we want, but Jesus always gives us what we need.  When we listen to Jesus Word, the Word of God, God Himself removes the veil of this world off of our spiritual eyes and He allows us to see an entirely different reality… a spiritual one.  Only through (Jesus) Christ can this veil be taken away.

You see, when we turn to Jesus and what He is doing or saying and receive that Word and that Word only, the veil is removed; we are freed from our own expectations of what our Christian faith and worship is and we can hear what Jesus is really saying.  When we hear what Jesus is saying, then and only then can we be transformed slowly but surely into the same image and glory of our Lord.

Peter and the boys missed the obvious.  They were awed by Jesus’ glory, because He was their man, the Messiah who would be their champion by righting all wrongs.  They were so excited about what they thought Jesus would do that they missed what God had already done.  There standing with Jesus were Moses and Elijah shining in the same glory as Jesus.  Moses the great teacher who brought us God’s law was listening to Jesus.  Elijah, the great prophet who was taken up to heaven in bodily form, was listening too.  What did it all mean?  Only Jesus could explain it; and to make sure that they would one day understand, God’s Divine Service kicked into action again.  Moses and Elijah disappeared within a dense cloud of God’s glory and the voice of the Father announced: “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him.”

III. How does our worship go wrong?  It happens when we shut down our hearts and minds to the message in exchange for the experience.  How does God make things right?  By taking our focus off of the experience and putting it back onto the Word, this Word:  “Jesus is My beloved Son; LISTEN TO HIM!”

The truth is, without the Word of God speaking to us, there can be no experience.  What is the experience?  Dying and living and Living and dying.  In the Word you hear God’s law make demands that you can never meet; this is a Word that terrifies you,  because you are a sinner standing in the middle of God’s perfect and blinding glory, and the result is your death, the death of your glory.  In the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news about His life, death, resurrection, and ascension, you hear about a loving God who came to you, to take away your sins; the result is new life, a life free of condemnation and full of God’s love.  In this good news you are taught that Jesus walked the painful way to the cross for you; He suffered and died to pay for your sins.  In His death He conquered not just your sin and the devil, but also your own death.  In His death and resurrection, all things can be new again, even you!

In your baptism, Jesus brought you into His glory by drowning and destroying your old sinful nature and by bringing you into the cloud of His divine presence.  In your baptism He chose you and He cleansed you.  And what He cleanses, He also molds and changes.  What He molds, He fills.  And what He fills, He uses.  So now, you live!  Every day you choose to live for God as you put to death your old sinful and self-serving nature; you live for God and you live for others!

IV. This is the true nature of our hidden life in Jesus.  When the light show is over and the glory cloud vanishes, there is no one but you and Jesus.  But not the bright as the sun Jesus, but the flesh and blood Jesus.  He’s the one who moves around in this world of sin and suffering, dying for sinners.  He’s the One who speaks to them and through His Word makes them saints.  How does He do that?  Through His church… through you!

Remember in our gospel reading when He told the three not to say a word to anyone about what they had seen until He had risen from the dead?  Well that time has come and gone.  In case you haven’t noticed, everyone who knows is telling anyone who doesn’t what Jesus life, death, resurrection and ascension means!  They are telling them that they are free of shame, worry, and fear.  So now, guess what?  It’s our turn to share the good news.  But we can only do that if we come down off of the mountain top of worship and go out into the real world where there are real sinful and hurting people, dying without knowing Jesus.  The exciting part about all of this is the fact that God wants to reach them through you!

CONCLUSION: Are you a little afraid?  That’s alright; so were Peter and the others.  They didn’t want to leave the safety and awesomeness of their worship experience, but Jesus led them out, and He’ll lead you too!

I’d like to close with a little story that will help us remember that we aren’t alone as we go out into the mission field.  “One evening while flying on an airline, a passenger asked a sailor sitting next to him what time it was. The sailor pulled out a huge watch and replied, “It’s 7:20.” “Your watch must’ve stopped,” replied the passenger, “because I know it’s latter than that!”

“No,” he said, “I’m still on Mountain Standard Time. I am from southern Utah. When I joined the navy, my Dad gave me this watch. He said it’d help me remember home.  You see, when my watch says 5 a.m., I know Dad is rollin’ out to milk the cows. And when it says 7:30 I know my whole family’s gathered around the dinner table with some great food, and Dad’s thankin’ God for what’s on it and askin’ Him to watch over me. I can almost smell the hot biscuits and gravy.  You see, I can find out what time it is where I am easy enough. What I want to know is what time it is in Utah.  It’s thinking about mountain time that keeps me goin’ even during war!”

Dear friends, God is sending us out into the real world; a place where it can be tough.  But He is sending us out with our hearts and minds focused on His Word and the real change He’s made and is making within each of us.  When you get afraid or tired, and just feel like quitting, think of this place and all of the wonderful gifts that God has given to you here, all so that you would be His witness of love and life in a dying world.  Think of His glory that He has placed within you; a glory that can’t be seen with physical eyes but will one day shine as bright as the glory of our Lord’s own Transfiguration.  And when you remember these things, it’s alright to feel excited but just remember emotions will eventually die off, and then it’s just you and Jesus.

So, until we meet again next Sunday for our next encounter with God’s divine service and our next foretaste of the glory to come, may He forever lead and guide you in the Word of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior… AMEN!

Reflecting Jesus

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

  Pastor Brian Henderson, Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego
“And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.”(Mark 9:8)
Click here for audio of this message.

This morning, the Holy Spirit of the Lord comes to us in His transfigured glory!  He comes to us in His Word so that we will know true freedom and peace with God.  Through His Word, He wants to remove any obstacles that might prevent us from seeing Him as He is-a loving champion and Savior.  He is asking us to gaze deeply upon all of His glory and continue to be transformed into His very image.  In short, God wants to deepen His relationship of love with you so that when the storms of life come, and they will, you will see no one but Jesus only.  And He does this by leading you deeper and deeper into fellowship with Him; deeper than you ever imagined.  He wants to impact your life in such a way that you will never be the same again-so that you will never want to be the same again.  He wants to bring real change into your life; a change of heart and mind.  In other words, God wants you to see only Jesus!  When doubt creeps in, see only Jesus.  When your friends question your faith, see only Jesus.  And when you find it hard to see how God could forgive you, it is God’s will that you see only Jesus!  How?  Well let’s turn to our epistle lesson for some answers.  St. Paul says that we can experience this deep and abiding relationship with God by being bold!  When we focus our self- worth on who we are or what we do, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment, discouragement, and guilt.  Why?  Because on our own, we are not perfect…we will sin, and we will disappoint God and our neighbor.  This is the fate common to all of us.  By looking to only our own self righteousness God’s Law becomes a righteous hammer with only one thing in mind…DESTROY!  But when we find our self worth in what Jesus has done for us, when we focus on His grace, His self-sacrifice for us, then the accusations of the Law and our own inadequacies lose their power to intimidate us and cause fear.  With Jesus alone as our focus, then we can be bold!Friends, we who have experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ through the waters of Holy Baptism have already seen the full work of God’s Law in our lives…it is what drove you to the cross of Jesus Christ and His saving grace.  “You have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer you who live, but Christ who lives in you.  And the life you now live in the flesh you live by faith in the Son of God, who loved you and gave himself for you.” (Gal. 2:20).  You now find comfort in God’s Word that promises that He loves every man, woman, and child and that He doesn’t want anyone to perish, but instead it is His will that all would be saved and receive eternal life.  So when the devil whispers in your ear and attempts to introduce you once again to the terrors of God’s Law, you can say to Him, “Thank you Mr. Law for your work in my life, but you no longer terrify me.  You have already driven me to the cross and there I have found forgiveness and new life through my Savior Jesus Christ, and He alone is my Lord.  I shall live to please Him alone.  I no longer see your terrors, but instead I see Jesus only.”

Sadly, some remain in unbelief.  They remain captivated by the Law because they refuse to see God’s love and mercy through Jesus Christ.  They can’t accept a reality that says God came to us in our own flesh to suffer and die, and conquer death for us.  They cannot receive the truth of God’s Law which says that their sins deserve punishment and death.  “I am a good person” they say.  “I try my best to please God.  Surely that must count for something?”  The unbeliever cannot see the need for God’s mercy because his vision has been obscured and his thinking is clouded by his own pride.  And so it was in Paul’s day.  That is why he wrote in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 4:3) that the gospel was veiled to those who are dying in their sins.  But why is it veiled?  Because the god of this world, the devil, has grabbed hold of the pride of the unbeliever and used it as a tool to blind their minds so that they will not see the glory of God-the light of the gospel which gives everyone the glory of Jesus Christ, who is the very image of God for us.

Do you understand the tragedy of the unbeliever?  Can you put yourself in their place and feel the hopelessness of this tragedy?  Many of you will answer yes to this question, but then do very little to help.  You know that right outside the doors of this sanctuary in our own community there are people dying without Jesus.  If you are honest with yourself, you have let many opportunities to witness God’s love to unbelievers pass you by.  In the past you’ve felt the working of God’s Spirit urging you to share your witness about Jesus love and forgiveness with them, but you found other things to be more pressing, more important.  Dear friends, I am not relating this to you in order to drive you back into the captivity of God’s Law, rather I am telling you this so that you will confidently go back to the same source of love and forgiveness that gave you life and hope so that you can go out to your unbelieving neighbor with the very same message.

For us to be bold once again in our relationship with God, we must go back to the Spirit of the Lord who constantly brings us freedom; freedom form guilt and the power to love God with all of our hearts and minds.  Isn’t it true that the same things that seem to prevent our unbelieving friends and family from receiving Jesus as their Lord and Savior are the very same things that seem to get in the way with our relationship with God?  Don’t we, like our unbelieving neighbor tend to live our lives centered on our own accomplishments rather than what God is doing in us and through us?  Don’t we tend to care more about what others think about us instead of what God wants from us?  And what does God want from us?  God wants the very thing that His Holy Spirit gives to us-the ability to relate to God in love and not fear; the ability to love Him as He deserves to be loved, and the ability to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Friends, do you want to experience God’s love and peace more deeply?  Then learn to trust in the completed work of God through Jesus Christ.  It is that work which first saved you and it is His work that continually changes you and keeps you secure in a relationship of love and forgiveness with Him.

Do you want boldness in your life?  Do you want to have God’s vision for you come alive? Do you want the ability to be an effective witness to Jesus Christ?  If so, then you must stay connected to Him through His Word, prayer, and service.  Now being in His Word is kind of a no brainer.  You’re in His Word right now at Divine Worship.  Each time you gather for the preaching and teaching of His Word you are hearing God speak to you in a very intimate fashion.  Each time you confess your sins and hear your pastor pronounce the absolution, God is speaking directly to your heart, and he is reminding you of the time in your life when the water and His Word were combined at your baptism so that you could have confidence that because of Jesus Christ all of your sins have been forgiven.  And each time you gather at His Holy table you are fed in a miraculous way.  Somehow His Word joins with the bread and wine and it becomes also the very body and blood of your Savior.  And at this meal, God not only calls you to eat and drink, but also to see, smell, and touch His forgiveness of all of your sins!  Now for some this may seem like enough to carry you through the week, but dear friends, God wants to give you so much more exposure to His Word!  He wants you to read His Word every day, even for just 5 minutes of your time, and then simply meditate on it-think about what you have just read.  Why?  Because dear friends, faith comes by hearing the Word of God…the message of Jesus Christ!  Do you want to be bold in your faith?  Then stay in the Word! 

But God does not just leave it there.  He does not want a one way relationship where He talks and you listen; He wants you to talk to Him!  He wants to hear what you are thankful for; He wants to hear what makes you afraid; He wants you to tell Him what tempts you to sin and He wants to know what worries you.  He wants to know what makes you angry and He wants to know what makes you glad.  He wants you to tell Him what you need and what you want.  And all of this is done in a miraculous conversation with God, a conversation called prayer.  St. James said that you have not because you ask not!  How much difficulty do we have in our lives simply because we have discounted the miraculous; simply because we have excluded God!  Oh dear friends, pray away…pray away and pour out your heart to your heavenly father.  You can be bold in prayer because Jesus promised you that His Holy Spirit is with you making sure that you know that every Word you speak in prayer is precious to your Heavenly Father.

I want to close with one last way that God strengthens His relationship with you and draws you even deeper into His heart, and that is your service to Him and your neighbor.  Now certainly there is enough work at Trinity to keep even the most eager busy for a life time.  God is not asking you to do it all; no instead he is asking you to look around this house of worship and find one or two ways, one or two ministries that you can join or start in order to serve Him.  He is asking you also to pitch in and keep His house clean and in working order.  He is asking you to grow in your relationship of love with Him and then simply share your experiences with your neighbor.  Go where God leads you and simply be prepared to always give a witness to your neighbor about what God means to you.  Be prepared to share with anyone God puts in your way, what having a Savior who calls you by name means to you.  Be prepared to be the love of Christ in the life of a person who may no nothing at all about forgiveness and unconditional love.

Now I know this might sound strange to some here this morning, but when we get involved with serving God and our neighbor, something wonderful happens, something we may never have prepared for; He allows you to go even deeper in experiencing His love!  Don’t ask me to explain how this is; because I don’t know the answer, I only know that it is true.  Friends, His Word promises that you too will experience the very same thing: “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” Just like the morning rain opens the petals of a rose, so God desires to abide in you with His glory and transform you!

Can simply hearing and believing God’s Word really change you?  Can a conversation with God and service to Him and our neighbor really do all of this?  Yes, because each time we enter into these specific callings in life, God allows us to see more and more of His glory.  And each time we are allowed to see more of God’s glory active in our lives, we begin to realize that we no longer are captivated by things like worry and fear, want or need, instead we begin to look around and realize that all we see is Jesus.  And when all that we see is Jesus and His incredible love for us, then we can truly begin to reflect Jesus and His glory in all that we say and all that we do!  May God grant this truth be realized in each of our lives…in Jesus name…AMEN!