Year A – Epiphany 8 – 2 Peter 1:16-21

Last Sunday after Epiphany
2 Peter 1:16-21:
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Summary – The apostle Peter here explains his experience with Christ on the mount of Transfiguration. Peter was there along with James and John and they saw Christ manifested in a glorious form, perhaps with the glory cloud of God ascending on the mountain. This experience recalled the very foundations of Israel with Moses on the mountain, that was quaking with God’s glory and presence. Peter emphasizes that he was an eyewitness to see this glory. This also included seeing Moses and Elijah in transfigured form, as well.

Insight – It’s very easy for people to look at someone else and judge them by their appearance. Have you ever had someone reject you or say hurtful words to you because they didn’t like the way you look? Have your actions ever been misunderstood by others? This happened to Jesus frequently. The leaders of Israel said, this is a mere carpenter’s son, this man is from Galilee, we know his mother and his brothers, no prophet comes from Nazareth. Etc. Not everyone was able to see Christ as he truly was. Even seeing his signs and miracles, people did not always see what they were supposed to see. But at the Transfiguration, as Peter testifies in this passage, there is a revealing of Jesus true nature. It was as though the inner reality of Christ’s glory which was covered by his human flesh, broke through and they could see more of his reality. To get access to that glory today we also must, by faith, gaze at Jesus and see him as he truly is. Now we do not have sight but we do have faith to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and reigns at God’s right hand.

Catechism – How did the apostles know about the glory of Jesus? They were eyewitnesses to see this on the mount of Transfiguration.

Discussion – How can we best game in glimpse of Christ’s glory today?

Prayer – Almighty God our heavenly father we come to you confessing that we believe Jesus Christ is your unique son who gave his life for us and was raised and now has ascended to your right hand. Grant that we who believe this may continually be reminded of his glory as we understand his word and as we remember that he is present with us by the power of his Holy Spirit in the lives of his disciples. We pray in Christ name. Amen.

Year C – 5th Sunday of Easter – John 13:31-35

Text–31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:31-35 ESV)

Summary–Up to this point in the upper room, Jesus’ teachings to his disciples had been veiled and somewhat guarded.  Not all of those who were present with him were of the same spirit.  Judas was about to give Jesus over to his enemies.  As long as Judas was there, Christ seemed to hold back his teaching until the traitor departed.  With Judas gone, the die was cast and the atmosphere was cleared.  Jesus could tell them more clearly what was about to happen in his coming glory and what that would mean for them.  Christ was going to be cruxified, and they would not be able to follow him.  But as we shall read, the pattern of self-sacrificial love will be set for his disciples to follow in a way previously not asked of them.  They would receive a “new commandment” to love one another as Christ loved them to the glory of the father through the Christ the son.

Insight–So much confusion surrounds the idea of love.  What does it really mean anyway?  Is it mutual affection between two parties?  Our government would define love in these terms as it walks down the path to destruction on defining marriage.  Who cares who the parties are in the marriage bond, so long as they love each other.  Do you love him or her or them or it, then go right ahead and marry them.  But this is where they get it all wrong.  Love is not about being able to do whatever you feel like so long as it makes you happy.  Jesus is love and defines it for us here in this text.  John calls this a new commandment which really isn’t new at all.  The summary of the Old Testament law is to love God with everything we have and love our neighbor as ourselves.  So what is so new about this commandment?  The answer in large measure comes from John’s first epistle.  He tells us in 1 Jn 3:16-18, “This is how we know what love is; Jesus laid down his life for us.  And we out to lay down our lives for our brothers.  If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity for him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and truth.”  By Jesus coming into this world and taking on our nature, and dying on the cross, his example is a new commandment.  Up to this point, all was shadow and pointed to a future understanding of love.   This is what makes it new.  Here is the new pattern; we love sacrificially and by our actions will we show ourselves truly to be Christ’s disciples.  God grant that we stop loving ourselves and start loving according to Christ’s new commandment. 

Catechism–(Q) How does the world know you are a Christian? (A) That you love one another.

Discussion–What ways can you love those around you as Christ loved his disciples?  Do you have to die for your neighbor in order to love him like Christ describes in this text? 

Prayer–Father God how amazing it is to realize how much you loved us by sending your own son to leave the majesty of heaven to save us from your wrath.  Lord God give us new hearts to love what we previously hated.  Awaken us to love you by loving our neighbors as Christ loved his church.  Let the world glorify you in seeing how we love one another.  Father it is in your name that we pray through the mediator of your Son by the power of the Spirit.  Amen.

Contributed by Michael Fenimore

Year C – Transfiguration Sunday – Exodus 34:29-35

Ex 34:29–35 NRSV – Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; 34 but whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.”

Summary – Consistent with the theme of Transfiguration, the passage tells of how Moses was transformed by being in God’s presence. In his case, he reflected with shining skin, the glory cloud of the Lord. God’s glory was in a small measure wearing off on him. The Israelites knew that he was becoming transfigured into a holy person. Moses veiled his face to accommodate their fears and to keep the focus of attention in their work together and not on Moses shining face. The response of the people, even Aaron and the rulers was that of fear. They were afraid because holiness of God was rubbing off on Moses.

Insight – Have you ever seen a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis? It was once a caterpillar crawling on the ground but then through miracle of metamorphosis. Now it flies with vivid and artistically colored wings as light as a feather. The gospel promises us that we shall also be changed when we see Jesus. The temporary change in Moses appearance is a taste of this great change when we will have a resurrection body and all inclinations to sin and misery have been glorified out of us. In the mean time we have to keep crawling in hope, by faith, and with love.

Catechism – How did Moses speak to God? Face to face.

Discussion – What things in your physical limitations now would you like to overcome in the resurrection? What matters of your sinful heart would you like to overcome?

Prayer – Holy God, mighty and immortal,
you are beyond our knowing,
yet we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ,
whose compassion illumines the world.
Transform us into the likeness of the love of Christ,
who renewed our humanity so that we may share in his divinity,
the same Jesus Christ, our Lord,
who live and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.