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 A – Epiphany 8 – Exodus 24:12-18

Last Sunday after Epiphany
Exodus 24:12-18 – The Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.’ So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. To the elders he had said, ‘Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.’ Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and nights.

Summary – In this passage in Exodus, we read of Moses going to the mountain of God to receive the Ten Commandments in tablets of stone. Moses had already spoken these commandments to people (ch. 20) and explained their application (ch. 20ff). Moses is now called into God’s presence to receive the actual tablets of stone for the instruction of the Israelites (v12). It is in this context that God reveals His plans for the tabernacle (Ex. 25:9), the place for the Israelites to worship and draw near to Yahweh. As the last verse in this passage explains Moses was on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights.

Insight – This is one of those extraordinary events which form the foundation of Israelite life. Moses receives direct revelation from God about two primary pillars: the Law and the Tabernacle. This Sunday in the Church Year is sometimes referred to as Transfiguration Sunday, because the readings are about Christ’s transfiguration on the mountain (e.g., Note the Epistle, 2 Peter 1:16ff and Matthew 17). The connection is going to the top of the mountain meet God. As is indicated in the beginning of the passage, the tablets of God as well as the tabernacle of God were for the instruction of the Israelites. Both of these pointed to something beyond themselves. Ultimately they pointed to Christ the “end of the law for righteousness” (Rom. 10:4) and the true Tabernacle who has come among us (John 1:14). Another connection is the 40 day theme which is very fitting as we approach the lenten season, remembering Christ’s wilderness fasting and temptations.

Catechism – How long did Moses stay on the mountain with God? 40 days and 40 nights.

Discussion – What are some other 40 day periods in the Bible? Which one do you think is the most significant?

Prayer – Lord our God, we thank you for revealing to us your word in the law of God and your purpose for drawing near to us in the tabernacle. We thank you that now we worship in spirit and truth as we approach You through the blood of Jesus Christ our Savior. Grant that we may ever be faithful to obey your word and draw near in your presence, in Christ’s name, Amen.

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.