Worship Helps for the Transfiguration
Worship Helps: Jesus appears in glory as the Son of God. The Epiphany season is bookended by the voice of God the Father proclaiming Jesus his Son. Before he suffered as man’s substitute, Jesus gave his Church a glimpse of the glory that he set aside to be our Savior. See how much he loves us! The God of Mt. Sinai, the Majestic Glory, became a man to suffer and die for us, just as Moses and the Prophets had foretold. It’s good that we are here.
Old Testament: Exodus 24:12, 15-18
The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain. Wait there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commands that I have written, so that you can teach them.” 15Moses went up onto the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16The Glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered the mountain for six days. On the seventh day the Lord called to Moses out of the middle of the cloud. 17The appearance of the Glory of the Lord looked like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. 18Moses entered into the middle of the cloud and climbed up the mountain. Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
1. Why was Moses called up to the top of Mount Sinai? What covered the mountain for six days?
2. What did the glory of the Lord appear to be to the Israelites?
Epistle: 2 Peter 1:16-21
To be sure, we were not following cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the powerful appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received honor and glory from God the Father, when the voice came to him from within the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18We heard this voice, which came out of heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain. 19We also have the completely reliable prophetic word. You do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the Morning Star rises in your hearts, 20since we know this above all else: No prophecy of Scripture comes about from someone’s own interpretation. 21In fact, no prophecy ever came by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were being carried along by the Holy Spirit.
3. What event is Peter recalling in these verses? What did some people apparently think of Peter’s account of this event?
4. What is the source of everything in Scripture?
Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9
Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James; and he led them up onto a high mountain by themselves. 2There he was transfigured in front of them. His face was shining like the sun. His clothing became as white as the light. 3Just then, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus. 4Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you want, I will make three shelters here: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them. Just then, a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him.” 6When the disciples heard this, they fell face down and were terrified. 7Jesus approached and as he touched them, he said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” 8When they opened their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus alone. 9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Do not tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
5. Who met Jesus and his three disciples when they climbed this high mountain?
6. Why did Peter make the suggestion he did in verse 4?
1. Moses went up the mountain to meet God “face to face” and to receive the Old Testament Law. A cloud enveloped the mountain and the glory of the Lord rested on it.
2. The glory of the Lord seemed to look like fire to the Israelites. They were terrified by the Lord’s glory.
3. The Transfiguration of our Lord. Some apparently thought that Peter, James and John made this story up.
4. Peter tells us the origin of the Bible is not “the will of man [man’s ideas], but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” God is the source of Scripture. The Bible is God’s Word.
5. They met Moses and Elijah, who were generally considered by the Jews to be the two greatest prophets in the Old Testament.
6. Peter wanted to build shelters on the mountain for Jesus, Moses and Elijah, in order to keep the glory of God all to themselves. Jesus, though, needed to head for Jerusalem, where he would suffer death on a cross (verse 9).
Putting your faith into action
It is so appropriate that the story of the Transfiguration comes just before Lent begins. Before the blood and gore of Lent, we see Jesus on the mountain exalted and glorified. We need that, as did Peter, James, and John. The Heavenly Father attests to his love for Jesus, something we need to remember when Jesus calls out, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” on Good Friday. This is the same Jesus that the prophets attested to in the Word when the Holy Spirit inspired them to write. This is the same Jesus we attest to as we dedicate our lives to him by learning more about him and serving him in all we do.
Christ’s righteousness is given to us through faith, faith is righteousness credited to us. In other words, it is that by which we are made acceptable to God on account of the credit and ordinance of God, as Paul says, “Faith is counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:3,5). Only because we grasp Christ as the Atoning Sacrifice are good works, pleasing. We do not satisfy the Law, but for Christ’s sake this is forgiven us, as Paul says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). This faith gives God the honor, gives God that which is His own. By receiving the promises, it obeys Him. So the worship and divine service of the Gospel is to receive gifts from God. On the contrary, the worship of the Law is to offer and present our gifts to God. However, we can offer nothing to God unless we have first been reconciled and born again. This passage, too, brings the greatest comfort, as the chief worship of the Gospel is to desire to receive the forgiveness of sins, grace, and righteousness. Christ says of this worship, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40). And the Father says, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him” (Matthew 17:5). – Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article V: Love and Fulfilling the Law (paragraphs 186-189)
Hymns: 712, 97, 95, 96, 369
1 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.
2 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.
3 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.
4 Beautiful Savior, Lord of the nations,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, Praise, adoration
Now and forevermore be thine!
Text: Münsterisch Gesangbuch, Münster, 1677, abr.; tr. Joseph A. Seiss, 1823–1904.