Worship Helps for the Transfiguration

Elijah Taken Up in a Chariot of Fire
Angeli Giuseppe
c. 1740

Worship Theme: The season of showing his glory to those he has called is coming to a close. We stand at the threshold of the season of his ultimate humiliation. But before we go down to the valley of the shadow of death, he gives us a glimpse of the glory which he hid so carefully even while he was revealing it. Lent is coming; hang on to the glory that soon will be covered in shame and washed with blood!

Old Testament: 2 Kings 2:1 When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here; the LORD has sent me to Bethel." But Elisha said, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So they went down to Bethel. 3 The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, "Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?" "Yes, I know," Elisha replied, "but do not speak of it." 4 Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here, Elisha; the LORD has sent me to Jericho." And he replied, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So they went to Jericho. 5 The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, "Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?" "Yes, I know," he replied, "but do not speak of it." 6 Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here; the LORD has sent me to the Jordan." And he replied, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So the two of them walked on. 7 Fifty men of the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. 9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?" "Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit," Elisha replied. 10 "You have asked a difficult thing," Elijah said, "yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours-- otherwise not." 11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, "My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!" And Elisha saw him no more.

1. Why was Elisha upset?

2. What request did Elisha have for Elijah?

3. How was Elijah taken away into heaven?

Epistle: 2 Corinthians 4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

4. Why don't all people trust in Jesus' blood?

5. In short, who is Jesus, this man who appears in such glory on the Mount of Transfiguration?

6. If you trust in Jesus― unlike many― why is that? (See 4:6.)

Gospel: Mark 9:2 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. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5 Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters-- one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) 7 Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!" 8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

7. Who met Jesus and his disciples when they climbed this high mountain?

8. Why did Peter make the suggestion he did in verse 5?

1. He realized that his master, Elijah, was going to be taken away from him.

2. Elisha asked Elijah for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. He knew he would need spiritual strength when Elijah was gone. In those days the oldest Jewish son would inherit a double portion of the estate, so Elisha seems to be asking to be Elijah's heir/successor.

3. A chariot and horses of fire separated Elijah and Elisha, then Elijah was taken to heaven in a whirlwind.

4. All people do not trust in Jesus' blood because the devil, “the god of this age,” has blinded the minds of unbelievers. Result: They cannot see the light of the good news.

5. Jesus is the image of God. When we see Jesus, we see exactly what God the Father is like.

6. The God who did the miracle of making light at the beginning, just by saying, “Let there be light,” did a similar miracle in you. He made light where there was only darkness. He gave you light to know the glory of God in the face of Christ.

7. Jesus and his three disciples met Moses and Elijah, who were generally considered by the Jews to be the two greatest prophets in the Old Testament.

8. Peter wanted to build shelters on the mountain for Jesus, Moses and Elijah, in order to keep the glory of God all to themselves. Mark the Evangelist suggests that Peter was speaking foolishly. Jesus needed to head for Jerusalem, where he would suffer death on a cross to secure eternal glory for his followers (verse 9).

Putting your faith into action
Walking together along the dusty path, two men head for destiny. It would have been too easy for Elisha to stop somewhere and let Elijah walk on. And it is too easy for us to watch someone else work for the Lord. But the stakes were too high for Elisha, the benefit too wonderful, too necessary! Our journey in ministry is also too important and too full of blessings to stop walking together.

A reading from the Book of Concord for the Transfiguration of Our Lord
You must honor Baptism and consider it glorious.  For God Himself has honored it both by words and deeds.  Furthermore, He confirmed it with miracles from heaven.  Do you think it was a joke that, when Christ was baptized, the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended visibly, and everything was divine glory and majesty?

I encourage again that these two—the water and the Word—by no means be separated from each other and parted.  For if the Word is separated from it, the water is the same as the water that the servant cooks with.  But when the Word is added, as God has ordained, it is a Sacrament.  It is called Christ’s Baptism. Let this be the first part about the holy Sacrament’s essence and dignity.

Since we know now what Baptism is and how it is to be regarded, we must also learn why and for what purpose it is instituted.  We must learn what it profits, gives, and works. We cannot find a better resource than Christ’s words, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” [Mark 16:16].  The power, work, profit, fruit, and purpose of Baptism is this—to save.  For no one is baptized in order that he may become a prince, but, as the words say, that he “be saved.”  We know that to be saved is nothing other than to be delivered from sin, death, and the devil.  It means to enter into Christ’s kingdom [John 3:5], and to live with Him forever. – Large Catechism, Part IV, Baptism (paragraphs 21-25)

Text of the Hymn of the Day: #369 - Beautiful Savior
Beautiful Savior, King of creation,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Truly I'd love thee, Truly I'd serve thee,
Light of my soul, my Joy, my Crown.

Fair are the meadows, Fair are the woodlands,
Robed in flow'rs of blooming spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer;
He makes our sorr'wing spirit sing.

Fair is the sunshine, Fair is the moonlight,
Bright the sparkling stars on high;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer,
Than all the angels in the sky.

Beautiful Savior, Lord of the nations,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, Praise, adoration,

Now and forevermore be thine!


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