“JESUS ADOPTS YOU IN A WONDERFUL MANNER”
Saint Matthew 17. 1-9
The Transfiguration of our Lord: 25 January Anno + Domini 2015
Fr Jay Watson SSP
In The Name + of Jesus
“The lightnings lightened the world; the earth trembled and shook.” This is Law. This is Sinai. This is even “old natured sinners,” Peter, James, John, and you reacting to The Lord’s “Light of Light.”
What you think you want—lightning miracles, and thunderous power—and what you really need: being found, being washed, being restored, being bandaged and bound up, being covered with balm to staunch the bleeding and pain, being fed, and being given peace at Table and Side.
Christ’s Transfiguration is not just about how He, the Nazarene, the Carpenter’s Son, is in reality The Second Person of The Trinity—I AM—come to Redeem Israel. Although to be sure, that is a reality and it should have been impressed upon Peter and the brothers. This theophany of Christ as God was also not to strengthen Christ’s humanity with a “rah-rah you can do it Jesus” pep talk from the Old Testament heroes. The Prophet and The Torah writer did on that mountain top what they had always done and will always do: talk about Jesus’ Gospel in His Exodus for you. They were doing what Paul calls “preaching Christ Crucified.”
Your sin, because you are a sinner, is that you crave the experience of what James and John must have felt; the excitement, the fear, the transcendence, the unique “specialness” to be there with the God/Man. That is pride and ego oozing out of your Adamic heart: Repent! You are a mass of rotting dead flesh in-and-of yourselves…not special one whit. Looking for excitement or entertainment or empowerment to “come off the mountain and do great things” is all Satan’s lie. It’s the Exodus of Jesus. It’s the love, the Grace of Jesus, Who is God, that makes this text not historical but today! You are no longer dead and blackened husks. You are transfigured IN Christ for He is IN you! You were and are transfigured—you are + Baptized!
Jesus does the Exodus…the going into your hot desert of sin and temptation and He triumphs by perfect obedience. When you sinned this last week, and earlier this morning, Jesus kept the Commandments perfectly. He went on an Exodus to Calvary where He made sure you passed through the Red Sea by having His own sea, flood, gusher of His red Blood part your way to Heaven. You were carried over to His sheepfold not on dry land but on His very Body—scarred and punctured and speared.
How amiable are The Lord’s Tabernacles—His tents. And what are those tents? Your bodies are tents of God, yes, but only by way of Christ in Baptism, Eucharist, and Preached Word. Jesus is the Tabernacled GOD. When He is IN you and you are IN Him you are His Body because He makes it so!
O Lord of Hosts Jesus is…Gabriel, Raphael, Michael and legions surrounding Him. But The Host of your Feast is The HOST in the Sacramental bread which IS His Body Itself. And yes, your soul WILL faint during the long Lenten week until it finds Sabbath; REST, here in His arms.
Christ is fairer than the children of men, not that He is Hollywood handsome but in that He is the perfect second Adam—the sinless Man Who is God/Man. The stains which make you ugly He removes with His Blood. His fairness is found on the Tree wherein He’s covered with sweat and dirt and caked in Blood and spittle. And THAT’s what Elias and Moses were talking to Him about!
Trinitarian imagery abounds: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; Moses, Aaron, and Hur; Peter, James, and John, Jesus, Elias, and Moses; and the Holy Triptych of Christ, the Baptist, and the Blessed Virgin. Three is perfect harmony and community wherein even “two” falls just a bit short. For The Lover and His Beloved always desire LOVE between them. The Groom and His Bride always produce children.
The Voice (The Father), the Cloud (the same Counselor who helps inform and inspire Peter’s later account in the Epistle), and The Lamb are Trinitarian Godhead. Jesus is the fullness in flesh for He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. Jesus raised on high between two malefactors. His Work completed; His obedience now credited; His Bloody Body drawing all His to His feeding side—His Blood and Body.
Is it magic? Oh yes, it’s the deepest of magic’s for it is true and real: substantive, constructive, originative, generative and constitutive.
This Transfiguration in Scripture is this morning’s Transfiguration of His brethren, of you, as you are assembled on a mountain in which you never need leave. You depart the structure called Augsburg for the desert outside yes, but with Christ inside you, The Transfiguration of Jesus’ presence safeguards and preserves.
You, dear Saints, you are fairer than the children of men for you are now the children of God. Grace is poured into your lips. Jesus transfigures you and says: “sit thou at My right hand.” Hallelujah!
In The Name of The Father and of + The Son and of The Holy Ghost