2 Corinthians 3.12-4.2 and Luke 9.28-36
I wonder how bold you are feeling this morning. I wonder how sure you are feeling about your faith. I wonder how confident you are feeling about sharing the good news of Jesus with the people you are going to meet today.
This morning’s readings contain both encouragement and challenge for us for to be bold. Bold in our faith. Bold in our discipleship. Bold in sharing our faith with others.
Turning first to the many encouragements our readings contain, we are reminded of some of the reasons we have to be confident. There is encouragement that we have a real source of hope as we enter this day with all that it will bring. Encouragement that we are being transformed more into the people that God created us to be. Encouragement that we have freedom in Christ. Freedom from being enslaved to sin. Freedom from having to give way to temptation. Freedom from the darkness of not knowing who Jesus is. Freedom to enter into the presence of our heavenly Father with boldness. Freedom to live as forgiven children of God. Freedom to enjoy life in all its fullness. This is the hope with which we can begin this day and the reason we can step out boldly.
We can do all this because of Jesus; because of his life and death; because he was not just a good man but God’s own Son. ‘This is my Son, my Chosen’ (Luke 9.35) came the voice of God from the cloud on the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus, the man from Galilee who Peter, James and John had left their fishing boats to follow was revealed in all his glory as the Christ, the Messiah; the one whose life and work Elijah and the prophets had foretold; the one who would bring an end to the Old Covenant which God established with Moses and institute the New Covenant. The New Covenant of salvation for all people which was accomplished through the events that were to take place in Jerusalem, the events of Holy Week which we will soon be celebrating and of which Jesus spoke with Moses and Elijah on that mountain.
Jesus stood on the Mount of Transfiguration and was revealed in all his glory: the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became dazzling white. His appearance changed because of what was within him: the glory of God. Paul tells us that we too are being transformed. The Spirit of God is at work within us and is changing us. It is transforming us into the image of Christ from one degree of glory to another. This process of sanctification will take our whole lives, but we can be encouraged that because of Jesus, we too can be transfigured so that the image of God can be seen more and more clearly in us. We are children of the New Covenant. We are not like Moses whose face shone with the glory of God when he was in the presence of the Lord, but had to wear a veil so that the people of Israel would not see that light fade with time. We are not like Moses who wore a veil so that the Israelites would not be discouraged as the glory of God faded in him. No, Paul writes that we ‘are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.’ (2 Corinthians 3.18) If we invite the Holy Spirit to work in us he will do so and we will be transformed permanently. Step by Step. Inch by Inch. Sin by Sin until we reflect the image of our Saviour more clearly.
So we have reasons to be confident, to be bold this morning. But our readings also contain a challenge. Peter’s instinctive reaction to seeing Jesus in all his glory was to commemorate the event. He wanted to contain the experience by building three shrines on the mountain but God’s response is to speak from heaven and call on him to recognise who Jesus really is and then to obey him. We too can be tempted to want to stay on the mountain. To enjoy the revelation of who Jesus is. To bottle the moment. Ironically, the church on the Mount of Transfiguration does indeed have 3 chapels: one for Christ, and smaller ones for Moses and Elijah. However, we are not called to stay on the mountain and to keep our knowledge of who Jesus is to ourselves. Like Peter, we are called to acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God and to listen to him. And what he said to his disciples, what he says to us is that we are not to keep this good news to ourselves but go and tell others: ‘And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ (Matthew 28.18-20)
Paul tells the Corinthians that he does not lose heart in his work despite all the challenges he has faced because it is the ministry to which he has been called by God. We have all been called to the same ministry. We have all been called by God to recognise who Jesus is and then share this good news with others. We can do this boldly because it is God who calls us. We can do this boldly because Jesus loves us. We can do this boldly because the Spirit is at work in us. So since then we have such a hope – a hope of eternal life in Christ Jesus – let us act with great boldness today and in the days ahead. Amen.