Transfiguration Sunday • Luke 9:28–36 • February 7, 2016
By Mark Rockenbach
In the beginning God said, “Let there be light” (Gn 1:3) and there was light. The voice of God called into existence not only light, but also water, land, vegetation, and living creatures. Once all was created God did not go silent but he continued to speak. God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gn 1:26). God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; ‘I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gn 2:18). God said, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die (Gn 2:16?17).” But Adam and Eve did not listen to the voice of God. Instead they were persuaded by another voice; another voice that would lead them into the captivity of sin, death, and the power of the devil.
Notice how many voices are speaking to us today: the voices of newscasters, the voices of government leaders, the voices of song writers, the voices of YouTubers, the voices of bloggers, the voices of political candidates, and the voices of television and movie actors. There are assorted voices speaking to us each day. Therefore, take a moment and account for the voices you hear each day and consider what they are saying. In addition, consider where the voice is coming from. Is this the voice of God, or is this a voice that will lead you into the captivity of sin, death, and the power of the devil?
Discerning between the array of voices that are encouraging us to think, feel, behave, and believe in certain ways is important. Consider the scene of Peter, John, and James with Jesus on the mount. There is much to see, the appearance of Jesus’s face is altered, his clothes are sparkling with light, and with him are Moses and Elijah. But listen; listen carefully to what is being said and who is saying it. Notice the contrast between Peter, who wants to build huts and the voice from heaven proclaiming Jesus to be the chosen one. These are two very different reactions. Peter’s reaction is filled with misunderstandings. Peter thinks it is good to stay on the mount, he suggests that three huts be built. (You could make a connection to the Feast of Booths during your sermon.)
Yet, while Peter is speaking he is interrupted by another voice. “This is my Son, my chosen One; listen to him!” There is a special connection between the one speaking and the present imperative of listening. God demands an emphatic continued activity when he says, “listen to him!” You could translate it “continue without ceasing to listen to him!” The voices from the Old Testament are important but Jesus speaks with greater authority. Jesus is the chosen one that was foretold (Dt 18:15?20). Jesus is the light to the nations (Is 42:1?7). Jesus is the word made flesh (Jn 1:5).
The voice from the cloud clearly states that they are to listen to Jesus and only to Jesus, “And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone” (Lk 9:36). The Old Testament figures are gone; they had completed their service of pointing to Christ. The kingdom of God was now here in Jesus as the voice of God proclaimed. And notice the response of the three disciples: silence. They did not speak but they listened. And maybe that is the point. Do more listening to God’s voice and less talking. We are tempted to talk when maybe we should be listening. Peter was tempted to say something but what he desired was not God’s desire, he misunderstood what was taking place because he was so quick to speak. Instead, “be still, and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10) for what is going to happen next is life changing.
(A note: consider using a Lenten sermon series that identifies the many voices of Lent. The voices of Peter, Pilate, Herod, and so on and then on Good Friday: the voice of silence. Weave through all these voices the voice of God.)