THE TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD AD 2019
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
REV. KURT E. REINHARDT
Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan,  all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea,  the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the Valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar.  And the Lord said to him, "This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, 'I will give it to your offspring.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there."  So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord,  and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day.  Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated.  And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.
 And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. So the people of Israel obeyed him and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.  And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face,  none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land,  and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,  who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house.  For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.  (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.)  Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later,  but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray.  And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white.  And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah,  who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.  Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.  And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah"— not knowing what he said.  As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.  And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!"  And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.
Now, hold on, just wait minute here! What’s going on? I thought God said to Moses, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, 'I will give it to your offspring.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” So what exactly is going on here today? What on earth is Moses doing standing on top of this mountain in the Promised Land? Did God change His mind? I didn’t think He did that? Scripture is pretty clear on giving us a big “NO” on that one. God always acts according to His Word. Unlike us, He doesn’t say things that He has to go back on later.
No, the Lord never repents of what He has said. What He says He does. Which is why Moses died in the land of Moab on the edge of the Promised land, without stepping foot into it. On account of his sins the great prophet led God’s people to the promised land, but He didn’t take them into it. He saw it, but did not enter it. At 120 years old, he died, not because of old age, no, the one, who had met with God face to face, had undimmed eyes and the strength of a young man. No, he died and God buried him because the time had come for Israel to enter the Land promised to her forefathers, but Moses wasn’t allowed to enter. That is, until the jaw dropping events of today.
Yes, there’s a lot to drop your jaw about today on the top of the mountain. The greatest cause for your mouth to hang open in surprise of course, is the Lord Jesus Himself glowing with the glory of God shinning out of His face, and His clothes turning dazzling white. Normal people just don’t do that kind of thing. Not even great prophets do. Moses would glow after he came out from speaking with God. So much so, that he had to put a veil over his face, because the people couldn’t handle seeing even the afterglow of God’s glory reflecting off of him. That’s something to think about, whenever you think that it would be nice to get a glimpse of God yourself.
The jaw dropping thing today is that Jesus isn’t simply reflecting this glory like Moses did. No, He is the source of it. The Divine uncreated light comes blazing out from Him. The early Church explained how Jesus was both God and man, by using the image of a blacksmith putting a piece of iron in a forge. The iron would go in cold and black but come out glowing and burning hot. The fire was in the iron. In the same way they said the Divine Nature was placed in a human one, when the Son of God became a man. The truth of this is put beyond question, as Jesus’ human flesh glows and burns, with the Divine fire on the mountain top today.
Here was proof positive for the three disciples, Peter, James and John that Jesus was not just some other prophet, priest or king. As John would write in His Gospel, we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father full of grace and truth. The glory pouring out of Jesus on the mountain top, left them in no doubt about the truth, that the Word had indeed been made flesh, and that Word was truly and fully God of God, Light of Light and very God of very God. All of His miracles pointed to the truth that Jesus was someone special, there’s no question about that, but today’s jaw dropping events show just how special.
In light of all that, it seems like such a small thing to take note of this little detail, that Moses is standing on the very ground that he was told, that he could see, but not enter. The fact that he is there with Elijah, some hundreds of years after he died, alone, would be enough to make you miss this point. The fact that he was buried by God in an unknown grave centuries before, would be enough to make you ask, “Hey, what’s he doing here?” without getting into the whole issue about God telling him that he wouldn’t go there. But the Word from Deuteronomy highlights the point for us today, and makes it the elephant in the room looking for an answer, giving us all another reason, as if we needed one, to drop our jaws this morning.
So back to … “ Now, hold on, just wait a minute here!” “What’s going on?” Excuse me Moses, but what are you doing here? Did you not get the memo? I think God made it all pretty clear when you died at 120, with your eye undimmed and your strength unabated, and buried you in the valley of the land of Moab, you’re not supposed to be here! The answer to that challenge, beloved, comes back loud and clear, though, in the One who is standing with Moses revealing His Glory, the Glory as of the only begotten Son of the Father. God hasn’t changed, but because of what God has done in Jesus, something has changed for Moses. Jesus opens the way to the Promised Land for him bringing him into it with Him.
As you enter into this week the Lord wants this truth to be front and centre in your heart and mind. Moses was there. It may seem like a small detail but it has great Good News for you. You see, if Jesus made such a difference for this prophet of old, who had a Word from the Lord that he would not enter the Promised Land, when Jesus was only preparing to accomplish His great exodus at Jerusalem, then what kind of difference does HE make for you, after He has finished it? If just the Son of God being made man, so that He could suffer and die to ransom us for our sins, could carry Moses across the Jordan, what has the actual payment done for each and every one of you?
If Jesus brings Moses into the Land of Promise who had a Word barring Him from entering it, what does Jesus mean for you, who as baptized children of God have a Word of promise that you will enter the rest of eternal life? If Jesus can bring in the one who was told that he would not, how much more so can he guarantee the passage of you who have been told that you will. If the presence alone of the Word made flesh could make all these incredible things happen for Moses, then, how much more so will even greater things happen for you, who receive that Divine given body and Divine shed blood to eat and drink at this altar? If Moses got all that he got just by being with Jesus, how much more will you receive, who have received Christ into you and are in Christ?
And so when your sins come to mind and stare you in the face, and when the devil comes accusing you with them, beloved, when death threatens with worry and care, trying to get you to question or doubt whether poor miserable sinful old you is going to make it into God’s rest, you must stare them down and say to them, “Yes, sin, satan and death, I hear you, but wait just one minute here, “I want you sit up and pay attention to this fact, it is a small one, so you might have missed it, but those are Moses’ feet standing in the Promised Land with Jesus on the mountain. If the Lord Jesus can do that for Him, then there can be no question about Him doing what He has promised to do for me.”
Yes, beloved, Moses, was there with Jesus, and so that you might not doubt but believe that poor old sinful you will be too one day, He comes to you in His flesh and blood today, with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, so that you might live in the truth that, one day He will come and take you that where He is, you might be also, until that glorious day when He returns in power to judge the living and the dead and make all things new. Amen.