1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
9 And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”
Grace, mercy, peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today, in hearing this text, we stand with Peter, James, and John to see the beautiful, awesome vision of Jesus’ divinity shining through the veil of His human nature. Imagine being there. Jesus’ face shines like the sun. His clothes become white as light. And there are Moses and Elijah talking with Him.
Peter, good ol’ Peter, loves it. He wants to stick around. He’s got a plan. “Let’s build three tents. One for you, Jesus, and one each for Moses and Elijah.” But Peter’s plan gets interrupted. God the Father has something to say. “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.”
Let’s do what God says, ok? Let’s listen to Jesus. Jesus says two things in this text, and we need to listen to both statements. The first thing Jesus says after the Father speaks is, “Rise, and have no fear.” More on that later. The second thing Jesus says is, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”
Jesus commanded Peter, James, and John to keep quiet, to shut their mouths, about the Transfiguration. “Don’t tell anyone about what you have seen here. Don’t tell them about the hidden glory that was just revealed. Yes, I am God in the flesh. But there is more for Me to do. I must rise from the dead.” You see, as great as the events on the mountain of Transfiguration were, Jesus has another mountain to climb.
And like Peter, James, and John, we and all disciples, all Christians, need to follow Jesus from the Mount of Transfiguration across the valley of Lent to that other mountain. We descend the Mount of Transfiguration with all of its glory and splendor and see our destination – another mountain, Golgotha – looming before us. And it is there, on that other mountain, we see the true glory of God, more glorious even than the Transfiguration. On that mountain, you see that your God is willing to die to save you, His people. And the events of Golgotha are similar to the events of the Transfiguration.
The events on the Mount of Transfiguration began in prayer. Jesus, Peter, James, and John went to this mountain to pray. Luke tells us that while they were there, the disciples fell asleep, and they awake to see Jesus’ transfigured glory (Lk. 9:28-36).
Across the valley of Lent, on Golgotha, Jesus will begin in prayer too. Peter, James, and John are with Jesus again. And they will fall asleep while Jesus prays, again. On Golgotha, Jesus’ face does not shine like the sun, but with agony and bloody sweat.
On the Mountain of Transfiguration, the disciples are awakened by the glory of Jesus’ metamorphosis where His entire being shines with glory.
Across the valley on Golgotha, the disciples are awakened by the tramping of soldiers and the clanging of their weapons. There the Son of God in the flesh will be defiled and kissed by the filthy betrayer, seized by guards, spat upon, stricken, and beaten.
On the Mountain of Transfiguration, the disciples marvel at the glory they see. Peter tries to take matters into his own hands and build those tents to retain the glory. But Peter’s plan to stay there with Jesus is stopped by the voice of God the Father.
Across the valley, on Golgotha, Peter will take matters into his own hands. He will reach out his hand to grab his sword and fight. But Peter will be stopped by Jesus Himself. “Put your sword away Peter. You know that I can call upon My Father and He would send twelve legions of angels to fight. But if that happened, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled?” And when Jesus’ divine glory does not appear, Peter will flee just like all the other disciples.
On the Mountain of Transfiguration, Jesus is joined by two men – Moses and Elijah – who speak to Jesus about His exodus and what will happen on the other mountain.
Across the valley, on Golgotha, Jesus is again joined by two men who are lifted up on crosses next to Him. These criminals will taunt and mock Him for being on that mountain. One will be brought to faith when He sees the hidden glory of God in the flesh crucified.
On the Mountain of Transfiguration, bright, white clouds glow. The Father’s voice booms through the sky like thunder proclaiming Jesus to be the King, “This is My beloved Son; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him.”
Across the valley, on Golgotha, there are clouds again, but they fill the whole land with darkness. There, Jesus is proclaimed to be Hing once again as He hangs under a placard with the words, “Jesus of Nazareth – King of the Jews.” Jesus, the beloved Son, will cry out to His Father. But the Father doesn’t follow His own command to listen to Jesus. Instead, Jesus’ cries are met with deadly silence because God turned His back on Him, the chief of sinners.
On the Mountain of Transfiguration, the glory fades when Jesus descends to accomplish His task.
Across the valley, on Golgotha, the glory fades when Jesus breathes His last and is sealed in the tomb.
But, here is the important part, the task is accomplished. It is finished.
The tomb was sealed, but the earth cannot veil Jesus’ glory. On the third day, Jesus breaks free.
On the Mountain of Transfiguration, we do see glory – glory indescribable. But across the valley, there is a better glory that is uncontainable.
Today, and throughout Lent, listen to Jesus’ other words: “Rise, and have no fear.” Travel through Lent knowing that the glory of Golgotha is even greater than the glory of the Transfiguration. “Rise, and have no fear.” Jesus, God in the flesh, is crucified and risen for you. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
 I am thankful for a sermon by Rev. Christopher Thoma as inspiration for this sermon.