Luke 13:1-9 – God Isn’t Nice, But He Is Good

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Luke 13:1-9

1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Parable of the Barren Fig Tree 16 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

So. Did you have a good week? Everything go well for you or, at least, mostly well? Did your house keep you warm and sheltered? Did your kids stay mostly healthy? Did you get enough to eat? Did you keep your job? Good!

How are you going to spend your afternoon? A little nap? Maybe relax a little and read a few more chapters in your book? Do a little cleaning up around the house and pay some bills? Go and buy your groceries for the week? Get that last bit of homework done before your Monday morning class? Sure.

What do you have planned for this coming week? Same old, same old? Keep the house fairly clean? Grind out another week of work? Get the kids to their activities? Visit some friends or family? Sounds nice.

Life goes on, and it is fairly comfortable. Some rough patches pop up here and there, but nothing out of the ordinary. We sit down to eat and drink and rise up to play (1 Cor. 10:7). We come each week to church, go through the liturgy, hear the Word, listen to the sermon, and think God that is mostly pleased with us. “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done” (Ecc. 1:9). We just continue on with our normal, mundane routine.

But beware. “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). You do not know what this week will bring. You could get diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. You do not know what tomorrow will bring. Maybe, you will be hit by a drunk driver. You do not know what will happen even while I am speaking this sentence. A gunman could come in here and shoot us all dead. This fallen world is a lethally dangerous place for sinners, that means you and me. Because of our sin, our life is dangerous, our existence perilous. Your lives should be filled with constant repentance.

Some people come up to Jesus and speak about a national outrage. “Hey, Jesus. While some Galileans were offering their Passover sacrifices, Pilate sent soldiers into the Temple where they were not allowed, and they slaughtered those poor souls.” To get a sense of how outrageous this: Imagine approaching this altar to receive Holy Communion, and the National Guard comes in here by order of the governor, and guns a bunch of us down. Despicable! Ghastly! Horrid!

“Hey, Jesus. Have You heard about how evil Pilate is? We need to take action. We need to protest! We need to occupy Pilate’s residence! We need to start a group – Galilean Lives Matter!”

But Jesus doesn’t condemn Pilate. He doesn’t say, “Yes, it is tragic. Pray for survivors. This violence has to end.” He says nothing of the sort. Neither does Jesus say something trite, “Where God closes a door, He opens a window.” Or, “Some things we don’t understand now, but we will later.” No!

Instead, Jesus says, “Do you think that those who were killed were worse sinners than everyone else because they died like this?”

No, they were not worse sinners. But when you see evil, when you see injustice, when you see ruthlessness, don’t seek revenge. Don’t take things into your own hands. Don’t even ask, “Why did this happen?” Instead, Jesus uses this wicked deed by a ruthless governor to remind us all to repent. “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

And Jesus takes it a step further. “Hey, remember those eighteen people who were crushed when the tower fell in Siloam? Do you think they were more sinful than the people who weren’t crushed and buried by the rubble? Did karma catch up with them? Nope, no sir. But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Crying to GodJesus uses both of these things – the wickedness of a political authority and a tragic “act of God” – to remind us to live as repentant people. All tragedies and all acts of violence should remind us that we are sinners who deserve nothing good. God doesn’t owe us peace or long, healthy lives. God’s anger against our sin is real. And just because we are God’s forgiven, adopted children does not mean that we will have a wonderful life. We deserve to be slaughtered. We deserve to have towers pushed over on us. God’s anger is real, and death is what our sin has earned us. We, all of us, need to repent.

We have angered God by the evil we have done. We deserve His wrath for the good we have left undone. We need to repent of our good works because they don’t cut it. Even our righteous deeds are as filthy rags (lit. used toilet paper). Do you think that your attendance at church, giving your offering, and living a generally good life means that God owes you? Does any of that mean you are less likely to be crushed by a tower or martyred by a wicked ruler?

Repent. Your life isn’t quiet and comfortable because you have pleased God with the fruit of your good works. God isn’t nice to you based on how you are living at any given moment. In fact, God isn’t nice at all. He does not tolerate your sin. He condemns it and punishes it. “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

God isn’t nice, but He is good. Jesus uses this little parable about the barren fig tree to show you the goodness and patience of God. Imagine this barren fig tree. According to God’s command (Lev. 19:23-25), when a tree was planted, you gave the tree three years to grow. Then, the first three years of fruit from that tree were forbidden. The seventh year after the tree is planted (which should also be the fourth year that it produces fruit), all the fruit is to be given as an offering to God. So, the vineyard owner in this parable has been waiting for three years for that first crop to bring as an offering to God. This is a nine-year-old tree hasn’t produced anything – worthless thing that it is.

The vineyard owner calls his vinedresser to sharpen the axe and chop down that parasitic tree. But the vinedresser intercedes. “Sir, let it alone this year also.” Let it alone. Jesus literally says, “Forgive the tree this year also. Give Me have some time with it. Let Me dig around it. Let Me fertilize it. Let’s see what I can do with this worthless tree.”

In this little parable, Jesus is giving us a beautiful picture of what we read in Romans 8:34, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God who indeed is interceding for us.”

You see, the God who is angry with your sin, the God who pushes over towers, the God who puts rulers in authority who sentence Christians to death, Blessings from the CrossHe is the very God who digs, prunes, and fertilizes. And He is not done with you. He refuses to stand by and watch as you grow fruitless and wild. He will not chop you down without first caring for you with His love. Jesus pours out His blood for you and showers his constant forgiveness upon you.

Always remember that. You live only by His mercy. Learn to number your days because God is not nice, but He is good. His mercy endures forever and ever. Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Luke 13:31-35 – Under His Wings

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Luke 13:31-35

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33 Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ Under the Wings of a Hen34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Personal threats are one thing, but what do you do with secondhand threats? The Pharisees come to Jesus saying, “King Herod has it out for you and is going to kill you.” There is no question that Herod was a ruthless individual. He had the gall to lop off John the Baptizer’s head. But Herod doesn’t appear to be seeking Jesus’ life (see Lk. 23:7-11). When he finally meets Jesus on Good Friday, Herod mocks Jesus and treats Him with contempt, but Herod doesn’t sentence Jesus to death.

The Pharisees here aren’t suddenly being friendly toward Jesus and protecting Him. They had been seeking Jesus’ life (Mt. 12:14). Instead, it appears they want Jesus to get out of town, and so they lie about Herod’s threat. But Jesus doesn’t take this second-hand threat seriously. Even if Herod was threatening Jesus’ life, “Jesus gonna do what Jesus gonna do.” He will continue His ministry of releasing the captives from disease, demonic powers, sin, and death as He said He would when He preached in Nazareth (Lk. 4:18-21). Jesus says, “Go and tell that fox Herod, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish My course.’”

Now, we need to pause here for a moment. The phrase that gets translated here, “I finish my course,” is a really bad translation. In Greek, that phrase is only one word, and it is a passive verb. But the English translates it as active, “I finish.” But a more literal translation would be, “On the third day, I am finished,” or “I am completed.” Jesus knows that He is going to die, but it won’t be at the hand of Herod, the fox. Instead the Lion of the tribe of Judah will be killed in Jerusalem. Jesus is saying, “I will continue on my journey to Jerusalem because Jerusalem is the place for a prophet to die.”

Jesus’ life is not in danger anywhere but in Jerusalem, but that doesn’t scare Jesus. Instead Jerusalem is precisely where He is going to go, resolutely and unwaveringly. Jesus knows knows that going Jerusalem will cost Him His life, but amazingly He is not angry about it. In fact, Jesus laments this. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing.”

Because Jerusalem refuses to listen to God’s Word, she is her own worst enemy. Jerusalem continues to reject God’s prophets. Now Jesus – the Prophet (Dt. 18:15) and more than a prophet, the Savior – is about to be rejected and killed by Jerusalem, but still Jesus longs to shelter and protect those very people.

There are stories about barns being burned down in a fire. When the fire is finally out, a hen will be found burned to death, but her brood of chicks are safely alive under her charred wings.

This is the picture Jesus wants us to see. All our suffering is caused by sin – either ours or someone else’s. As the fiery consequences of sin engulf everything around us, there is Jesus frantically seeking to rescue you from God’s wrath against sin and give you shelter under His wings. You can hear Jesus’ frustration, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem! How often I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing.”

You can see that mother hen trying to get her chicks to stand still and be sheltered, but those chicks keep running frantically around the barnyard. chicken-littleWe are just like those chicks. Rather than seeing Jesus’ wings as our place of refuge, we see them as smothering and confining. We don’t want to be stifled and cramped under His wings. Because of our sinful nature, our wills are hell-bent on remaining free and unfettered to run around rather than being protected in repentance under the wings of Jesus. We see the fire, and we are scared. But rather than trusting Jesus to protect us, we keep running around kicking up sparks, spreading the fire, and making things worse.

This is what most often happens with us sinners. A gracious and merciful God seeks us sinners, but we think that He is coming to destroy us. So we refuse to repent. Adam and Eve tried to create their own refuge from their sin. They tried to cover their sinfulness with fig leaves. David tried save himself by covering up his adulterous affair with Bathsheba. But all he did was fall into more and more sin. Peter was even told beforehand by Jesus that he would deny Jesus. But rather then repenting before he sinned, instead of seeking shelter under Jesus’ mercy, Peter defiantly boasted that he would go to death with Jesus rather than deny Him.

Jerusalem was unwilling to be gathered under the wings of Jesus, and so are we.

Passion of Christ on the CrossThankfully, Jesus’ will is stronger than yours. Jesus knows what it will cost for Him to spread His wings over you. And Jesus still resolves to go to Jerusalem. Jesus will continue to run His course. He will cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day will be finished. This is exactly what Jesus says on the cross. He cries out, “It is finished,” (Jn. 19:30 same word as in v. 32), and He gives up His spirit.

Jesus sees the fire of God’s wrath coming upon you, sinner. But He chases you down, and He smothers you under the safety of His outstretched arms on the cross. The fire of God’s wrath completely consumes Him, but you, sinner, are kept safe and secure under His wings. Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Luke 4:1-13 – The Devil’s Favorite Game

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Luke 4:1-13

1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. Temptation of Jesus Modern3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’”

5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”

9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’

11 and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dear saints, beware. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Pet. 5:8). His ultimate goal is to get you to utterly reject God’s Word. But the devil is content with being patient so long as he can simply get you to doubt, at least a little, what God promises. So, the devil is always playing his favorite game where he questions all of God’s promises to you. And he is really good at it. The worst part of this is that our own sinful flesh likes to play doubles with the devil.

This was the devil’s game in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. The first words we hear from Satan are, “Did God actually say? Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” With those words, the devil plants a little seed of doubt in Eve’s mind. That seed germinates so fast you can see the growth.

Eve adds to God’s Word, “We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” God never said it was wrong to touch the tree. But Satan, pleased with this slight twist on God’s word, waters his little doubt plant and presents the possibility of Adam and Eve being like God. And you know the rest of the story. Eve put herself in the place of God when she saw the tree was good for food. She went after the desire of her eyes. She decided that going against God’s Word would make her wise. Adam and Eve believe the lie of Satan. Satan wins his game, and all humanity falls.

Satan tries this same ploy on Jesus. If you are simply reading through the Gospel of Luke, it is shocking how bold Satan is as he plays his cards. At the Baptism of Jesus in Lk. 3:21-22, the text closes with God the Father saying, “You are my beloved Son; with You I am well pleased.” The next quoted words in the Gospel are Satan’s words in our text, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

The devil comes to Jesus when He is weak from fasting. But, notice, that the temptation is not merely for Jesus to fill His belly, rather the temptation is to prove what the Father has already declared. In other words, the devil is saying, “If You are the Son of God, You provided Your people with mana in the wilderness. And You are, right now, giving food to the whole world. You should be able to have what is Yours. If You really are God, why should You go hungry? Why shouldn’t You have what You are providing for everyone else? Prove you are God by turning this stone into bread.”

But it would have been a sin for Jesus to turn that stone to bread. The Holy Spirit had taken Jesus into the wilderness to fast. Jesus is God’s Son, but being a son is not about getting the inheritance, the power, and the rights. Being a son is all about obedience. Jesus knows that the Father is good and will provide precisely what He needs at exactly the right time. “Man shall not live by bread alone.”

So the devil shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. Satan promises, “All the authority and glory I will give to you, just worship me, and it will all be Yours.” But Jesus knows what is at the heart of this temptation. The devil wants Jesus to get what Jesus will get after His death on the cross. The devil just wants Jesus to skip the cross part. Jesus knows that, if He does as the devil asks, He will have the world under His authority. Sure, the world would go on for ages and ages, and people might even live long lives. But they would still spend eternity in hell. Jesus doesn’t get that power and authority and glory for His own sake but for your sake. “You shall worship the Lord Your God, and Him only shall you serve.”

Temptation of JesusFinally, the devil takes Jesus to the top of the Temple, and the he goes back to questioning Jesus’ son-ship. “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here because God will not let you get hurt.” The devil even quotes from our Psalm this morning. Satan is being really tricksy here. He is saying, “God has said that He will protect You. Prove that you trust God’s promises to You.”

God would, of course, protect Jesus, but God had never told Jesus to jump from the pinnacle of the Temple either. And even though God does protect Jesus in every way, Jesus still goes through temptations, suffering, beating, and death. “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”

In all of these temptations, the devil tempts Jesus to get what is rightfully His – food, glory, protection – but not in the way or the timing that the Father has in store for Jesus.

The devil still plays this game. Satan wants you to look at your circumstances, your status, your surroundings so that you doubt God’s promises. But what is more trustworthy – your circumstances or God’s Word?

The devil even uses the voices of even some Christians. They join in the devil’s game of causing you to doubt what God says.

God says, “Baptism now saves you” (1 Pet. 3:21). God says, “In baptism you are united with Jesus’ death and resurrection” (Ro. 6:3-5). But many mislead Christians say, “Your baptism is only symbolic. It doesn’t actually do anything. It is just an act of obedience.”

Jesus says, “Take eat. Take drink. This is My Body. This is My Blood for the forgiveness of your sins” (Mt. 26:26-28). But, again, the voice of doubt is preached from pulpits. “Jesus isn’t really in Communion. This is physical, material stuff. It doesn’t really do anything but remind you of what Jesus has done.”

Jesus says, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt. 16:19). Then more explicitly, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them” (Jn. 20:23). And God says, “Confess your sins one to another that you may be healed” (Jam. 5:6) But the devil has caused you to doubt the Absolution. Absolution is not the pastor’s forgiveness it is always God’s forgiveness – the pastor is simply God’s mouthpiece.

You see, any teaching that even slightly deviates from the Word of God is poison. Poison might not kill you immediately, but it still kills. When God says something, it is clear and certain – even though our sinful minds might not be able to comprehend it. The devil’s game is to cause a sliver of doubt wherever God has spoken. Then, all he has to do is continue to feed that doubt, and the wedge of unbelief is driven deeper and deeper between us and God.

Now, we do see a way out of temptation here. Jesus is our example as He always returns to God’s Word wherever the devil attacks. The answer to doubt is always God’s Word which never changes. It is solid, lasting, eternal.

Blessings from the CrossBut even more importantly, brothers and sisters in Christ, the Word of God says that Jesus resisted every temptation of the devil. And that sure, certain Word of God says that you, dear saint, are in Christ. As Jesus resisted all the devil’s temptations, you do too. God sees you only in Christ. Jesus’ resisting temptation is your resisting temptation. His life is your life. His death is your death. His resurrection is your resurrection. His righteousness is your righteousness. Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Luke 9:28-36 – Fear & Love

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Luke 9:28-36

28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 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. 33 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. 34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; hear him!” 36 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.

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Climbing a mountain is hard work. With families to feed, fish to catch, nets to mend, and boats to maintain, Peter, James, and John probably didn’t have the leisure to be regular mountain climbers. Their lives as fishermen probably didn’t afford them time for working up the endurance it takes to climb a mountain. They were already physically tired.

On top of that, eight days earlier, Jesus had been talking about some heavy stuff. He said that He must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised (Lk. 9:22). That had to be heavy on the disciples’ minds. So they were mentally fatigued too. Jesus takes these dogged disciples up to the mountain so He can pray. But what is there to do while someone else is praying? Exhaustion sets in, and the three disciples fall into a heavy sleep.

Transfiguration 1What they saw must have woken them up quickly. Before them, the Son of God shines in open, unmistakable glory. Moses and Elijah are there speaking with Jesus about the departure (lit. ‘exodus’) of His cross and resurrection. This is a tremendous moment that Peter, James, and John want to hold on to. They love this shiny Jesus more than the Jesus who speaks so openly about dying. And Peter has a bright idea (pun intended) of his own. “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for You and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

But those very words of love are misplaced. Peter did not know what he was saying. Peter’s love for this glorified Jesus would cut out the cross. In saying this, Peter shows that he wants a beautiful, awesome, dazzling Jesus – not a crucified, dead, and buried Jesus. Peter is saying this because he does not have the sober awareness of his own sin. So God reveals His terrifying glory as the cloud overshadows them. And the disciples are terrified.

We need this same sobering experience. We need to listen to God’s Word of both Law and Gospel. As Christians, too often we fall into the trap of assuming God’s grace. The holy, holy, holy God – whose presence is doom for sinners – He doesn’t stop being God because He is merciful toward you. This is one of Satan’s favorite tricks to steal away our faith. We get lulled into sleep that God isn’t serious about punishing our sin. We start to think that our sin doesn’t really matter all that much and that God, because He is merciful, just gives a wink and a nod at our sinful actions. Repent.

Yes, Jesus is a friend for sinners, but that doesn’t mean He is a friend of your sin. We need to listen to Him. We need to listen to His Law. Through the Law, God constantly tells you that He hates your sin and that you deserve His eternal wrath. We need to listen to Him. We need to listen to His Gospel. Through the Gospel, God constantly tells you that His love and mercy is always for you. In the midst of the terrors of His threats, God draws you in with His voice of mercy.

We cannot understand Jesus’ mercy and love unless we also fear Him. In the explanation to the First Commandment, Luther strikes us with exactly what the Bible teaches, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” This isn’t meant to be chronological. Fear does not come first and then love. Rather fear and love go together. Both are faith, trust. Fear of God believes God when He says He is angry because of our sin. Love of God believes God when He says that He fully and freely forgives our sin and absolves it. Through faith, “our fear is softened by our love of God, and our love for God is sobered by our fear of Him” (Rev. David Petersen).

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9:10). “Since we are fallen beings obsessed with ourselves, that which we do not fear we hold in contempt” (Rev. Petersen). You have probably seen parents who constantly threaten punishment but never follow through. Their child is misbehaving and they know it, so they threaten to take away their tablet or send them to bed. But the child doesn’t stop, and the punishment never comes. That child quickly learns his actions do not have consequences. And the child learns to disrespect his parents. There is no fear of punishment so there is no respect or love for the parent.

We sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that God’s threats against our sin are not serious. We need to look from this mountain of transfiguration toward the next mountain Jesus will ascend to keep our fear and love of our Savior balanced.

Jesus ascended this mountain with Peter, James, and John to pray, and those disciples fell asleep. The disciples are awakened by Jesus’ face shining like the sun. On the next mountain, Jesus will again take Peter, James, and John to pray. They will again fall asleep, but they will be roused by the sounds of swords and shackles as Jesus is arrested.

On this mountain, Jesus’ face bursts forth gloriously white. On the next mountain, Jesus’ face will be covered in His glorious blood.

On this mountain, Jesus is surrounded by Moses and Elijah who speak of that other mountain. On the other mountain, Jesus will be surrounded by two criminals as all three are suspended between heaven and earth hanging on crosses.

On this mountain, Jesus is proclaimed the only Son of the eternal God by the voice of the Father. On the other mountain, Jesus is mockingly labeled as “Jesus of Nazareth – King of the Jews” by an etched placard hanging over His head.

On this mountain of Transfiguration, Jesus’ glory fades as His holiness is veiled once again. On the other mountain, the glory dies when Jesus breathes His last and the tomb is sealed.

Cross and CommunionTo strengthen us on our journey to the mount of His crucifixion, this morning, we are invited to Jesus’ table. You are invited by your Savior to behold another glorious thing. Your Savior comes to you, body and blood, in bread and wine. He comes to you to forgive you of your sins and to be your Savior. He comes to absolve you of your sins and to fix your eyes upon Him.

The Mount of Transfiguration and Mount Golgotha are both mountains of Jesus’ glory. We see the Transfiguration here today so that we are strengthened to travel through the valley of Lent. On the other mountain, we will see Christ’s glory where He is the beaten, bloodied Savior of the world – your Savior. Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.