It Is Good To Be Here
March 2, 2019 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Verse: Hebrews 3:1
Christ Lutheran Church
March 3, 2019
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
It Is Good To Be Here
Therefore holy brothers, communicants of the heavenly calling, consider Christ Jesus the Apostle and High Priest of our confession … Hebrews 3:1
Do you remember the old story about the blind men who tried to describe an elephant? One of them touched the ear said: an elephant is like a fan. Another touched the leg said: the elephant is like a tree. A third man touched the trunk and declared that: an elephant is like a snake. And the fourth touched the animal’s side and concluded that: an elephant is like a wall. They were all correct, of course, but only partially.
That story is a good illustration of how preachers have interpreted the Lord’s Transfiguration, the event the church celebrates today.
We preachers have all described Transfiguration in part at one time or another. We have all asked: Why Moses and Elijah? Or focused the sermon on the dazzling change in the Lord’s face and garments and what they indicated. We have unanimously berated the 3 chosen disciples for their dull understanding of the event; and for their desire to make that moment permanent by building homes for the Lord, Moses and Elijah: and for their desire to stay on the Holy Mountain forever. But who would not want that?
But today let us try to view the whole elephant if we can.
To do so we need to hear from today’s epistle which is as good a commentary of the Lord’s Transfiguration as there is. In it the Preacher says, “Therefore holy brothers, communicants of the heavenly calling, consider Christ Jesus the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.”
Yes, let us consider! Except “consider” is not exactly the right translation from the original Greek. Better yet let us “recognize” and “identify” our Lord Jesus Christ to be exactly what the Voice of God proclaims him to be: the Apostle and High Priest of our Confession. Jesus is both of these.
At his baptism the Son of God was anointed as God’s Apostle (that is, “one who is sent”); and at his Transfiguration he was inaugurated as our High Priest. Let us consider both of these today.
At the Lord’s baptism there was a similar occurrence. A voice came from heaven declaring to all men: “This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” By that declaration God was announcing to the world that Jesus is the atonement for the sins of the world. That by his death on the cross the power of sin, death and Satan are terminated, and that we would be transfigured in him.
Consider our confession, baked into the church’s liturgy, that Jesus is the Lamb of God who lifts away sin from the world. Who cleanses his church and renders her spotless, and without blemish; free of every stain of the sin that so easily besets us.
But if the Lord was anointed as God’s “Apostle” at his baptism he was inaugurated as God’s Great High Priest at his Transfiguration!
And this is something the church needs to grasp. A vital distinction needs to be made and it this: That the Jesus we worship is not the historical Jesus of the past. But the heavenly High Priest who now sits at the right hand of the Father. The Lord who intercedes for us before the throne of the Father: as we hear in Hebrews 7:25 that "Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us." And again in Romans 8:34 that "Christ Jesus our Lord intercedes for us at the Right Hand of God."
This Exalted Jesus! is the one whom Christians worship. The one in whom all Christian faith, and Christian hope is lodged. And the One whom the church wishes to make known to the world: a mission we are accomplishing at this very time.
But there is more. Because Transfiguration is not simply an historical event; but one that is repeated each Sunday. Repeated in the church as she ascends Transfiguration Mountain with Jesus. Yes. Today the church climbs the holy mountain with Jesus, and is transfigured as she enters the cloud with him.
The church is the Mountain and the Eucharist is the cloud where Jesus resides for us! It is the sacred space where he is surrounded by “a great cloud of witnesses” (Hebr. 12:1) of which Moses, Elijah, Peter, John and James are only a representative sampling.
But in order to fully recognize and identify things as the Preacher admonishes us in Hebrews 3:1 we must realize that this Holy Communion we celebrate today is not a local event, but a universal one. One that is attended by countless ranks of angels, archangels, and in fact by the whole company of heaven. Attended by myriad Thrones, Dominions and Powers that no man can number; and which are as numerous and as varied as the stars of the sky, and the grains of sand in the sea.
Yes! This is the Feast of Victory for our God! Hallelujah!
This being the case we should also realize that the Divine Service prayed here this day is not anyone’s own private devotion, nor is anyone’s personal preference of value here. Today Christ Lutheran Church does what the church of heaven and earth does. “This do in remembrance of me.” Today she accesses, and joins into, what goes on perpetually before the throne of our God and of his Christ. “This is the Day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” (Psalm 118)
And so this Transfiguration Sunday let us recognize, and correctly identify, Jesus as God’s Apostle and our Great High Priest. Not in an abstract fashion but as the One who is vocally present among us in the hearing of the Holy Gospel. And the one who is bodily present among us in the Transfigured Bread and Cup.
By these we are Transfigured from sinner to saint. From rebel to son. From wild demoniac of St. Mark chapter five to those who sit baptismally clothed, and in their right minds at the foot of our Lord’s altar: the Mount of Transfiguration.
It Is Good To Be Here! Truly good, right and salutary.