Worship Helps for Transfiguration

Artwork: Transfiguration of Christ
Artist: Giovanni Bellini

Worship Theme: Scripture says that Jesus only shone with glory once before his resurrection. That was on a high hill, where Peter, James and John had a terrifying look at Jesus’ perfect glory. One reason Jesus did it was to give his disciples a glimpse at what the future holds for all believers. The Twelve were about to enter a difficult time. They would see their Messiah crucified, but they would also see in the end that Jesus is our glorious Savior.

Old Testament: Exodus 34:29-35 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But whenever he entered the LORD's presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD.

1. What had happened to Moses’ face when he went to receive the two tablets of the Testimony on Mt. Sinai?

2. How did the people react?

3. What did Moses do to help relieve their anxiety?

Epistle: 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 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. Just as Moses covered his face with a veil, what problem did people of Paul’s day often face? (See 3:14-15)

5. How did being ministers of God’s new covenant make Paul and his companions feel? (See 4:1-2)

Gospel: Luke 9:28-36 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, 31 appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, "Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters-- one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." (He did not know what he was saying.) 34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him." 36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.

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

7. What happened to Jesus when they arrived?

8. What suggestion did Peter make in verse 33?

1. Moses’ face began to reflect the glory of God.

2. Aaron and the people were afraid to come near Moses. Paul tells us that “the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory” (2 Corinthians 3:7). This is the natural reaction of sinful people to the glory of God (The disciples of Jesus would react the same way when he was transfigured before them [Mark 9:6]). Moses was eventually able to first coax the leaders back to him (Exodus 34:29) and then all the people (34:32).

3. Moses placed a veil over his face, which he took off whenever he went into the Lord’s presence.

4. People of Paul’s day who misunderstood God’s covenant to Israel through Moses had a “veil over their hearts.” They did not realize that the first covenant was temporary; it prepared for the permanent covenant in Christ’s blood.

5. Being ministers of God’s new covenant kept Paul and his companions from giving up, or from trying tricky ways to convert people. They simply set forth the truth about Christ plainly to people who would have to stand before God.

6. They met Moses and Elijah, who were generally considered by the Jews to be the two greatest prophets in the Old Testament.

7. Jesus was transfigured before their eyes. The Greek word is our English word: metamorphosis. This is what a caterpillar does when it changes into a beautiful butterfly. Its outward appearance changes dramatically. So also Jesus’ body underwent a metamorphosis, in which, while still being man, he shone with the glory of God.

8. Peter wanted to build shelters on the mountain for Jesus, Moses and Elijah, in order to preserve the glory of God for themselves. St. Luke suggests that Peter was speaking foolishly.

Putting your faith into action
Build a shelter for the God of the universe and for two men who already live in eternal paradise?  Peter’s idea came from a sleepy head. We know what that’s like, don’t we? Sometimes we get hair-brained ideas about how our church could do ministry. Now, it’s great to have ideas! But as we think them through, something important should emerge: What does this idea do for helping people listen to God’s Son? That, after all, is the Father’s main purpose for our ministry!

A reading from the Book of Concord for Transfiguration Sunday
So much depends upon God’s Word.  Without it, no holy day can be sanctified.  Therefore, we must know that God insists upon a strict observance of this command and will punish all who despise His Word and are not willing to hear and learn it, especially at the time appointed for the purpose.
It is not only the people who misuse and desecrate the holy day who sin against this commandment (those who neglect to hear God’s Word because of greed or frivolity or lie in taverns and are dead drunk like swine).  Even that other crowd sins [when] they listen to God’s Word like it was any other trifle and only come to preaching because of custom.  At the end of the year they know as little of God’s Word as at the beginning.  Up to now the opinion prevailed that you had properly hallowed Sunday when you had heard a Mass or the Gospel read.  But no one cared for God’s Word, and no one taught it.  Now that we have God’s Word, we fail to correct the abuse.  We allow ourselves to be preached to and admonished, but we do not listen seriously.
Know, therefore, that you must be concerned not only about hearing, but also about learning and retaining God’s Word in memory.  Do not think that this is optional for you or of no great importance.  Think that it is God’s commandment, who will require an account from you about how you have heard, learned, and honored His Word. – Large Catechism, Ten Commandments (paragraphs 95-98)

Hymns for this Sunday: 712, 97, 95, 96, 369

1  How good, Lord, to be here!
Your glory fills the night;
Your face and garments, like the sun,
Shine with unborrowed light.

2  How good, Lord, to be here
Your beauty to behold,
Where Moses and Elijah stand,
Your messengers of old.

3  Fulfiller of the past,
Promise of things to be,
We hail your body glorified
And our redemption see.

4  Before we taste of death,
We see your kingdom come;
We long to hold the vision bright
And make this hill our home.

5  How good, Lord, to be here!
Yet we may not remain;
But since you bid us leave the mount,
Come with us to the plain.

Text: Joseph A. Robinson, 1858–1933, alt.


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