Sunday, March 30, 2014
Sermon: Luke 9: 26-36 This is my Son
Today is a special day. Can any of the boys and girls tell me what it is today? It's Mother's Day. I wonder if any of you will give your mummy a moment to remember today? Perhaps it's already happened. You woke up early this morning and made a mess of the kitchen as you cooked a special breakfast in bed for your mum? When you appeared at the bedroom door, your mum would have taken everything in - the sights, the sounds, the smells. When we have a moment to remember, we want to take it all in. It's something very special, so that a long time after, we'll still be able to see and hear and smell all that happened.
What are your moments to remember? What are the key points in your story that are etched on your memory? It might be your wedding day, recalling the moment you walked down the aisle, or saw your beloved walk down the aisle. It could be the birth of a child or grandchild. Moments to remember, which stay with you forever.
This morning we come to a very special moment to remember for three of the disciples. Just as with our moments, the disciples can remember very clearly what they saw and what they heard. The details are recorded in their minds, and recorded in our Bible by Luke, passing on the eye-witness testimony. Sometimes when Luke begins a new bit of his gospel, he's a bit vague on when it happened. A wee while back, he said that something happened 'one day'. But in verse 28 he's very specific. He says that this is about eight days after 'these sayings.'
These sayings were what we looked at last week - as the disciples worked out that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ; as Jesus said that he was on his way to the cross; and as Jesus called everyone who follows him to take up their cross by denying their selfish desires. But these sayings also included the little bit which we heard at the start of our reading. Look at it in verse 26: Jesus speaks of his glory, when he comes in glory, asking will we be ashamed of him here and now? He also says in verse 27: 'There are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.'
So what does that mean? The disciples would have been puzzling over what all that means. What would it mean to see the kingdom of God? This morning we'll get a glimpse of the glory and kingdom of Jesus. Jesus goes up a mountain and takes just three of his disciples with him - Peter and John and James. He is praying, and Luke tells us what the disciples see.
Look at verse 29: 'And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered.' Now that doesn't mean that he was pulling funny faces. Rather it's saying that Jesus face began to look different; brighter. But not just his face, something was also happening to his clothing.
As it's Mother's Day, can you tell me some of the things that your mums do for you? They might make your dinner; help you brush your teeth and washed; tidy your room; and they might even wash your clothes. Now the boys and girls might not remember, but the mums and dads might remember the Daz doorstep challenge. Celebrities would knock on doors, challenging people to use Daz to see if their whites would get whiter than with another brand of washing powder.
But even Daz couldn't manage what Luke tells us about Jesus' clothes: 'his clothing became dazzling white.' It's brighter than a torch; brighter than the light bulbs in the church. Jesus is shining brightly, dazzling. His glory is shining as it did before he was born as a baby in Bethlehem; and as it does again now at the right hand of the Father.
But there was something else to see. Jesus isn't alone. He's joined by two people from the Old Testament. Moses (the guy who led the people out of Egypt) and Elijah (one of the prophets). They are talking with Jesus about his 'departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.' The focus is forward on the departure, the exodus, at Jerusalem. They're talking with him about the cross, as he moves closer to the events of Good Friday and the first Easter. It's as if the whole Old Testament is pointing towards Jesus, the law and the prophets, encouraging him in what he's going to do.
The disciples had been heavy with sleep, but now they awake; they 'saw his glory'. A moment to remember, and we have the eyewitness testimony - what Peter and John and James saw. They saw his glory, as Jesus shines with his full glory. They see Jesus as he really is, in his full power and glory. It's a bit like a sunny day when you are wearing sunglasses and then you take them off and can hardly see because of the sun. Jesus' glory shines even brighter. It's no wonder they can remember it.
It's also no wonder that Peter wants to try to stay in the moment. When you have a moment to remember, you want it to never end. That's why Peter wants to build three tents, for Jesus and Moses and Elijah. He wants to stay in that moment on the top of the mountain forever. But Luke tells us he doesn't know what he's saying. It's as if words are just coming out to say something when you don't really know what you should say.
So we've seen what the disciples saw on this moment to remember - they saw Jesus in his glory. They were eyewitnesses of his majesty, as Peter writes in his 2nd letter. But there was also something special that they heard in this moment to remember. They weren't just eye-witnesses; they were also ear-witnesses. The voice comes out of the cloud in verse 35. This is the voice of God the Father. Let's listen to what he says:
'This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!' The voice of the Father explains this moment to remember, and gives the final, sure answer to the question we've been wondering about for the last few weeks. Jesus is God's Son; his Chosen One (or, the Beloved). When we come to Jesus, he's not just a man; not even just a good man or the best man. He is God's man, God's own Son. He is God's Chosen One - the one God has appointed to save and rule the world through his self-giving death on the cross and his resurrection and ascension.
And the voice of God gives us our application from the passage. Because of who Jesus is - God's Son, his chosen one, the one who has all glory - we need to 'listen to him.' What he says is what God is saying - so as Jesus speaks of the must of the cross, we need to listen to him. We can't save ourselves. We can't work up our own goodness. We need Jesus to go to the cross, even though that was hard for the disciples to understand.
But it also means that every time we come to Jesus, we need to be sure that we listen to him. When we come to church, do we come ready to hear what Jesus is saying? When we open our Bibles, are we asking Jesus to speak to us, ready to listen?
Who are you listening to? What are the voices who command your respect? Whose advice are you following? Jesus is the one to listen to, because he is God's Son, his Chosen One. Listen to him.
The disciples had a moment to remember as they saw Jesus in all his glory and heard the voice of God. We're moving towards the final moment to remember, as Jesus returns in all his glory to bring this world to an end and to usher in the new creation. Jesus said that if we are ashamed of him and his words here and now, then he will be ashamed of us on that day. But even today we could have a moment to remember, as we meet Jesus for the first time; and for the first time listen to his voice and obey him.
This sermon was preached on Mothering Sunday, 30th March 2014 in Aghavea Parish Church.