28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. 31 They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)

34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” 36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.

Luke 9:28-36

Some of us remember a time when cassette tapes were the height of music technology. Cassette tapes had their day and so did CDs, but now everything is streaming. So, when we find an old box filled with cassette tapes, our first thought is to throw them away, but not so fast. Streaming may be the latest word in music, but life hacks are also a new trend. Life hacks make life easier. There are all kinds of videos showing how to save time and money in our lives, and one of those life hack videos involves the cassette tape. If you have an old cassette tape still in its case, go ahead and recycle the tape, but save the case and it becomes a cool smartphone holder by fully opening the case, setting your phone where the tape would go and setting it down on a desk, table, etc. Listening to cassette tapes may not be trending anymore but using the case to prop up your smart phone to stream music is a great life hack. Today we hear about another transformation that is guaranteed to make your life better in our gospel lesson from Luke 9 as we are reminded to listen to the Father’s Son for life!

Today is the last Sunday in the season of Epiphany. This season ends with Jesus asking his disciples a very important question. Throughout the Epiphany season, again the season of revealing, Jesus proved his power and wisdom as the Son of God to many people, but did they really understand who he was? In the verses just before our Gospel reading from Luke 9, Jesus asked his disciples,

“Who do the crowds say I am?”

Luke 9:18

They replied that the people thought Jesus was either John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the other prophets from the Old Testament come back to life. It was clear that the crowds still did not understand who Jesus was, so Jesus asked his disciples,

 “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

Luke 9:20

Peter was correct, but the disciples still did not know what Jesus was going to do as the Christ or Messiah, both meaning the anointed or one chosen for a specific purpose. They knew he was the Christ, but Jesus told them what that meant he was going to do,

And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

Luke 9:22

This was the first time Jesus told his disciples the difficult path he was going to walk in order to save the world from death and bring life to all who believe.

Jesus could not have been clearer about his purpose as the Christ. The disciples were hearing for the first time how Jesus was going to save the world and it was hard for them to imagine. They had not been Jesus’ disciples for very long and he was already talking about suffering and death.

23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”

The disciples had confessed their faith in Jesus as the Christ, but now they were hearing what that meant for Jesus and for them. It was going to be a difficult road. Jesus even used the phrase ‘take up their cross,’ like the one he would die on. This difficult road would tempt the disciples to turn away, and they did abandon him when he was put on trial and hung on the cross. Even Peter, who said he would die for Jesus rather than abandon him in Luke chapter 22, denied being his disciple three times the night Jesus stood trial. The road for all of us as followers of Jesus is difficult, which is why the transfiguration occurred.

About a week after Jesus told the disciples about his suffering, death and resurrection, he gave three of his disciples an epiphany they would not soon forget.

28 …he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.

Jesus’ three closest disciples had seen some amazing miracles, but they were now seeing a glimpse of the glory of God. It was terrifying for them, but also validation that Jesus was not John the Baptist, Elijah or another prophet. This was the one and only Son of God. All of us would have joined the disciples cowering in fear in the presence of God’s glory. His glory reveals how we are no longer worthy to be in God’s presence; how we have failed to love God and one another. The fear the disciples felt was the same fear the Israelites felt in our Old Testament reading from Exodus 34. When Moses led the Israelites, he spoke with God, leaving his face glowing with God’s glory like a glow in the dark t-shirt or sticker soaks up light from a lamp or the sun. And when he brought God’s commands to the people, they could see his face glowing and

30 “…they were afraid to come near him.”

We are afraid to come near God when his words reveal our unwillingness to follow him. When Jesus told his disciples, they would have to give up their lives to follow him, the same message was for all of his followers. And when Jesus went on to say,

25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?

He was talking to us too. Jesus asks us to look at our whole life and ask ourselves, have we given up our lives for him? He also tells us,

26 “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Here is a simple test to see if you are living your whole life for Jesus or if you are ashamed of Jesus and his words. Picture yourself sitting down with Jesus with your smart phone sitting in its handy cassette tape case stand and scrolling through your music, podcasts, search history, texts messages, Facebook likes, etc. If you are nervous about doing that, then you’ve been listening to the world more than Jesus. Now remember Jesus doesn’t need to do this because he can see into our own hearts all the time, which is why his glory causes even believers to be afraid.

Jesus asked the disciples who they believed he was in order to show them who he truly was. The disciples knew Jesus as the Christ, and now they had heard this meant he was going to suffering and die, and that they had to give up their lives to follow him. Jesus’ transfiguration showed how he would do all of this. When Jesus was transfigured, shining with his glory,

30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. 31 They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.

The appearance of Moses and Elijah, with the fact that John the Baptist had been put to death solidified that Jesus was his own person, not someone back from the dead. Moses and Elijah appeared because Moses had been the one through whom God gave Israel the Old Covenant after delivering them from slavery to lead them to the promised land, and Elijah was the most powerful prophet in the Old Testament, through whom God brought someone back to life. They appeared to encourage Jesus as he gave the New Covenant, the promise that God was going to do everything to save his people and require nothing from them. All of this would be accomplished by God’s power working through God’s Son, not just a man, but God and man in one person. Their appearance also strengthened the faith of Peter, James and John as they heard more about what Jesus was going to do in Jerusalem.

All followers of Jesus are strengthened in their faith by what happened on the mount of transfiguration. All that Jesus had said was coming together with what the Scriptures prophesied and even though we did not see the transfiguration it is for us because as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:7,

“For we live by faith, not by sight.”

When we hear that Jesus spoke with Moses and Elijah, we remember these words from Scripture. In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses prophesied,

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.”

This was Jesus, the Israelite born from David’s line to Joseph and Mary, who gave the clear path forward to the cross and resurrection. Also, in Malachi 4:5

“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.”

This pointed to John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus and whom Jesus called the Elijah to come. All the prophecies surrounding Jesus were coming true before the eyes and ears of the disciples and

34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.

It was a cloud on a mountain to hide God’s glory just like the cloud Moses entered on top of Mount Sinai. And, the same voice that spoke at Jesus baptism, spoke again  Luke 9 35

35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”

Jesus was still the beloved, chosen Son, but this time the Father added the words,

“Listen to him.”

These words are for us.

Jesus’ transfiguration answered the question Jesus asked the disciples,

“Who do you say I am?”

Jesus would suffer, die and rise because he is the Son of God, our Savior He would do all of this because when any of us ask ourselves, “Have we lost our lives for him?” The answer is, “No.” Instead, he gave his life to save us from our sins and death. As his followers, we trust in him and will live with him in heaven, looking only to Jesus as our Savior, not ourselves. As his followers, our eyes are open through faith and we eagerly wait for the day when we will stand with Jesus, Moses, Elijah, Peter, James, John and all believers in heaven. Also, as believers we haven’t given our lives over to Jesus to save ourselves, but we do give our lives over to Jesus and are not ashamed of his Word. As his followers, this is how we “listen to him” as the Father said. With our lives lost to Jesus, we are in the Word, pray, spend time with Christian friends, attend worship and Bible Study. As we do this, we become bold as Paul said in our second reading from 2 Corinthians 3:12

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.

Bold to live as students, employees, family members, citizens of our country, etc. according to God’s Word. And, to boldly share that Word of God with others confident that they need to hear about the one and only Son of God their loving and life giving Savior.

The way we listen to things has changed a lot over the past few decades. The days of cassettes are over, but you can use the case to hold up your smart phone while streaming your favorite music. The way we listen to Jesus also changes over time. As you listen to him more and more, your faith in who he is does not change, but it holds on to him more and more as you realize all he has done, is doing and will do for you. In this season of Epiphany, Jesus revealed his power to save us as the Son of God and now as we begin the season of Lent this week, we will see how Jesus fulfilled his words to the disciples, Luke 9:22

And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

The transformation of Jesus from lowly baby in a manger welcomed by the Magi to shining Savior on the mountain to his death on the cross and his resurrection was all done for us to make our lives not just better, but to give us life.

Therefore, … we do not lose heart,

2 Corinthians 4:1

when the crosses we carry weigh us down because we listen to the Father’s Son for life! Amen.