“This is the day that the Lord has made”
In Japan there is a mountainous area that for centuries that has been called something that translates into “The place where you leave your mother”. It is named that because of an ancient custom of taking the very old and feeble up to the top of a mountain and leaving them there. A thick forest grows up this mountains side and on a day long ago a strong young man was carrying an aged wisp of a women on his back through the dense forest. As they moved upward, the young man noticed that his mother was reaching out and breaking small branches. “Why are you doing that mother?” he asked. She looked at him with eyes that were dimmed by everything except love, and said: “So you will not become lost on the way back, my son.”
An act of love not unlike what is experienced by the three disciples on that mountain top with Jesus. An event brought about by God the Father to reveal to them the truth of his Son Jesus. To reveal but for a moment the truth behind what is then and what will be. To reveal but for a moment the concealed splendour of his Son and the revelation that this is the one who they have been foretold of in Chapter 8, verse 38 of “He who will come at the end of this age in the glory of His Father with the Holy angels.”
An act of revelation to them of what is and what will be that they can draw on and trust in when they descend that mountain to find themselves confused and in fear as their leader hang from a cross and a revelation they can draw from after the resurrection to give themselves the strength and commitment to be themselves spat on, abused, persecuted and put to death as they too follow in footsteps of their Lord and Saviour and bring His truth to the world.
On that mountaintop they did not understand as surely as they would not when they see their leader, Jesus the Christ, the promised messiah, the man they followed doing miraculous miracles and speaking with unparalleled love and wisdom willingly walk like a lamb to the slaughter into the hornets’ nest to be beaten, whipped, ridiculed and be killed in a manner reserved for the worst of criminals.
Yet a precursor to the moment when all will become clear to the apostles as their minds are opened to understand what was in the Old Testament and what has come in the new. To see that at both on the top of that mountain and at the base of the cross they have seen God’s plan for our salvation come to fruition.
To understand the times leading to Christ. To know the realization of Christ as the messiah, the Savior and the mediator to God who has solved our problem of sin and brought us life and freedom – eternally and here now on our earthly home.
To see not a God that speaks in private like when to Elijah in his mountaintop experience or like to Moses on Mount Sanai when he received the Ten Commandments. God the Father whom when talking to Moses on Mount Sinai, said “You cannot see My face; for no person shall see Me, and live, so while My glory passes by, I will put you in the cleft of the rock and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I shall take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen”.
God the Father protecting Moses from the result of human sin that if exposed directly to the Holiness of God, would have seen Moses like a piece of paper to a raging fire.
Yet here in the Gospel, Jesus the Son of God, the Word, the messiah and the Holy one that all have been waiting for is standing there on the mountain top next to three normal human beings-Peter, James and John.
What a great God is God The Father to not let our sin destroy us, but let us destroy His Son that we now can come here today in his presence clothed in the righteousness of his Son and kneel before Him at His alter and know the truth of not a God who looks to pay back rightful judgment for our transgressions, but our God who in Christ has taken the judgment on himself that we may receive his unending and bottomless amount of compassion, love and forgiveness.
On that mountain God told the disciples “This is my loved Son, listen to Him” and though they did, we know that standing at the foot of the cross before the resurrection they at the very least did not fully understand.
Here in God’s house, before his alter and in our lives we stand at both the base of our Savior’s cross and alongside side Him in His resurrection and heed the call that we listen to Him as His sheep who hear His voice, who He knows and that follow Him, who to I give eternal life, and that shall never perish, nor neither shall anyone snatch you out of His hand”
We listen and hear Him say: “My peace I give to you; (but) not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”.
Because: “Whoever believes in Me will not perish but have eternal life”
And “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed”
Martin Luther stated, “Faith is a living, daring confidence on God’s Grace, So sure and certain that a person could stake their life on it a thousand times”.
A thousand times we could, but for God the Father one life was enough, and that life was His Son. His life that is built both heaven and earth and His life that is built yours.
A life not of hopelessness, but off hope. A life that sees you look in the mirror and see not a reflection of earthly anguish, but of God the Father seen through His Son Jesus hearing our weeping and catching our tears that they not well up and drown us despair, but see Him reach out with His hands of Grace that flow through our lives.
The grace that gives us ears to hear on our last day “a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
And the faith that gives us ears to hear and hearts and minds to know His grace that sees us able to rejoice and sing out His praises as we dwell in our days here with our Lord, on this earth.
You are people of the Lord, and that God who did not spare his Son is for you, you can rejoice and be glad in all things because like those still walking this earth on its last day will see His arrival ushering in the dawn of the new heaven and the new earth, so too today at the rising of the sun the Lord seeks that our hearts not be troubled nor afraid, but to know that we can we raise our heads and live in His peace and rejoice in the precious years, days or moments that have been given to us. Praise be to God. Amen