Transfiguration Sunday • Hebrews 3:1–6 • February 10, 2013

By Glenn Nielsen

Goal: That the hearers are more confident in the hope we have in the One
deserving of all glory.

The writer to the Hebrews wants us to have confidence, and the courage to
stand strong in our hope. A confidence that doesn’t back down in the face of opposition.
A courage that shows no fear. A confidence that will accept the danger that goes
with the hope we have. A courage to make things just. All because of the hope we
have. We are to stand tall with confident hope.

Yes, confident hope. But what are we hoping for? Just what is this hope that we
stand tall for, with courage and perhaps danger? Our hope is that we will go to be with
Jesus when this life ends. We hope with confidence that when our body lies asleep in a
grave we will rest with blissful assurance that Jesus will keep us safe.

But hope doesn’t stop there. Hope looks forward even further. Hope looks to
a day to come that makes all things new once again. We are hoping for Jesus to return
on the last day. Our hope is that Jesus will come back and make everything right again.
Our confident hope is that on that glorious day our bodies will return to life, transformed
in such a way that sickness and pain will never be able to touch us again. On
that incredible day, all injustice and evil will be done and gone. On that day all of creation
will rejoice as death and decay will disappear.

Just think, on that day of resurrection, bodies alive once again with taste buds
that surprise you with flavors you didn’t know were possible; fingertips that feel the
wonder of love in holding a hand or touching a face; smells that intoxicate you; sounds
touching your ears of music, birds singing, people talking, words that make your heart
burst with joy. And our eyes will see colors that make the 128 crayons in that yellow
and green box way too few for the beauty of this world recreated to reflect God’s glory.
This last day resurrection of our bodies and this world is what we confidently hope for.

But that confidence is threatened. Confidence stands tall in the face of opposition.
Courage means danger is just around the corner. What opposition? What danger?

[In this section I suggest a series of quick examples of how Christians
around the world and in this country are being persecuted, ridiculed or

When we see these attacks on believers, it shakes our confidence. Courage is
needed, but standing tall and calling attention to our hopes in Jesus is frightening.
“Boast in our hope,” the writer of Hebrews says, but it’s easier to slink away to the
safety of silence, of not making any waves.

It’s a good thing we don’t have to face all those dangers alone. We are never
alone in this call to be confident in our hope, courageous in the face of whatever
threatens our faith.

The writer of Hebrews encourages us to consider Jesus. He wants us to look
carefully and think long and hard about Jesus. He wants us to fix our minds on Jesus.

Then he compares Jesus and Moses. Jesus is worthy of greater honor. Moses was
just a servant. Jesus is the Son. Moses lived in God’s house. Jesus built it. Moses was
just a man. Jesus was man and God. Moses died and could lead his people no more.
Jesus died and . . . rose again. [Since this is Transfiguration Sunday, I suggest describing
the transfiguration to show that Jesus is greater than Moses.]

We are not alone when it comes to confidence and hope. Consider Jesus. Walk
up to his empty tomb and look at what he can do. Fix your minds on his glorious body
risen from the dead. Our confidence comes from Jesus. Our hope is in Jesus. Think
long and hard about what Jesus has done for us and promises to do for us. Stand tall in
the hope that only Jesus can give.

But that’s not all. The writer of Hebrews also says that Jesus is the builder of
a house. The house? It has a firm foundation. It stands against attacks and threats
because Jesus builds it. What is this house? The church.

Jesus does not leave us alone. He gives us each other to stand courageous and
confident. A phrase has become popular the last few years. “I’ve got your back.” It
means you’re not facing a threat alone; others are there for you. And you’re there for
others. We’re in this struggle to stay confident and courageous together. We have each
other’s backs.

In the church, Jesus brings us together to face the threats to our hope and faith.
Here he gives us his word to give us confidence and courage for the facing of this life.
Here Jesus is present in the Lord’s Supper to bring us together as the communion of
saints, a family united together in this building called the church, so that we have each
other’s backs.

I heard a story about a young girl who had lost her hand. She was so self-conscious
about her deformity that she didn’t want to leave her house. Finally, her mother
convinced her to go to church. It would be one of her first outings since losing her
hand. Her mother called her Sunday school teacher to let her know what was going
on. But for some reason the teacher couldn’t make it at the last minute and a substitute
teacher stepped in. She wasn’t aware of the young girl’s fears and handicap.

During the class, she asked the children to make the church with their hands.
You know, you turn your fingers upside down and interlock them and say, “This is the
church.” Then you raise your index fingers and say, “This is the steeple.” Then you
open your hands and say, “Here are all the people.”

But the girl only had one hand. A boy in the class saw what was happening. He
went over to her and gave her his hand. Together they made the church. On this day,
that young boy was there for the girl. He had her back. She wasn’t there alone.

We’re here together. We have each other’s backs. We are Jesus’s building, his
church. He is with us and is our hope, our hope now, when we die, and for that great
final day of his return. With that, the writer of Hebrews says, we are people with confidence
and courage, boasting of our hope to a world that needs such hope.






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