Transfiguration Sunday February 11, 2024


’Tis Good, Lord, to be Here!

2 Peter 1:16-21

Scripture Readings

Exodus 24:8-18
Matthew 17:1-9


WS 719, 359, 135, Once upon a Mountain Sacred (see below)

Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) (TLH) unless otherwise noted

WS - Hymns from the Worship Supplement 2000

Sermon Audio:

Prayer of the Day: O God, in the glorious transfiguration of Your beloved Son You confirmed the mysteries of the faith by the testimony of Moses and Elijah. In the voice that came from the bright cloud You wonderfully foreshowed our adoption by grace. Mercifully make us co-heirs with the King in His glory and bring us to the fullness of our inheritance in heaven; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Dear fellow redeemed in Christ Jesus,

If you could be anywhere right now you would be…where? Sipping Mai Tais on a beach in Hawaii? Playing baseball in Arizona? Anywhere that is warmer than here?

But right now, at this very moment, is there somewhere else you would rather be than here in the Lord’s house, hearing His Word and praising Him for His salvation? Well, I suppose that depends on what you think of coming to church. If I had you fill in the blank to the following statement, what word would you use? “Church is __________________.

Living in the entertainment and visual stimulation generation, maybe we feel that going to church should be entertaining and visual stimulating as well. Maybe we wish our worship services were something like what Peter, James, and John experienced on the Mount of Transfiguration. There on that mountain, Jesus was radiating with glory. We heard how Moses and Elijah, those heroes of the Old Testament, appeared in glory and talked with Jesus. And then the voice of God the Father boomed from the heavens. What if church was like that every Sunday?

As we turn to our sermon text for this Transfiguration Sunday, we find out from the Apostle Peter that we actually have something better than the events that transpired on the Mount of Transfiguration. Let’s examine what Peter had to say about that event as we echo his words on that day, “’Tis Good Lord, to be Here!” Our text is 2 Peter, chapter 1, verses 16 through 21:

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (ESV)

Do you wish you had been there on the Mount of Transfiguration? Of course, who wouldn’t! It would have been amazing to see Jesus shining in all His glory and those great patriarchs of the faith, Moses and Elijah, standing there, talking with Jesus.

And what was it that Moses and Elijah talked to Jesus about? Luke writes that they appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. (Luke 9:30) They were talking with Jesus about His suffering and death which was about to happen in Jerusalem.

And doesn’t that make perfect sense? These two saints in glory were discussing the most important thing anyone can talk about. They were talking with Jesus about the very reason these two sinners were in heaven. While they lived, they believed that God would send someone to save them from their sins. They believed in Jesus even before He was born.

Furthermore, Jesus is the focus of the Old Testament. God had Moses write in Genesis 3:15 of one who would come from a woman who would crush the devil. God had Moses write in Genesis 12 that this blessing would come from the seed of Abraham. God had Moses write in Leviticus of all the sacrifices that pointed ahead to THE sacrifice of the Lamb of God for the sins of the world. And it was Moses that promised in Deuteronomy 18:15 that God would raise up a great prophet to whom the people were to listen.

Elijah was one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament. Elijah spoke the word of the Lord to wicked king Ahab and called down fire from heaven. Elijah prayed to God and there was no rain on in Israel for three years. He prayed again and God sent rain. Elijah also fled for his life to the wilderness when wicked Queen Jezebel wanted to kill him. And Elijah ascended directly into heaven without ever dying.

Peter says in our text that even though he was there on the mount and saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus, he says you and I have something even better. He says we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed.We have Moses and Elijah with us today, every time the Old Testament Scriptures are read in church. It is “more fully confirmed,” because Jesus fulfilled every prophecy written about Himself. While Peter had a moment on that mountain to hear Moses and Elijah speak with Jesus about His death in Jerusalem, you and I are able to regularly hear them speak to us about Jesus’ suffering and death in Jerusalem for our salvation. That is why it is good to be here! Because here we have the prophetic word which Jesus fulfilled by His life, death, and resurrection.

So, where would you rather be than right here, right now? Listen to what King David said, I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the LORD. (Ps 122:1) Or consider what the psalmist writes in Psalm 84, For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness. (Ps 84:10) These men of God would agree, “’Tis good, Lord, to be here!”

Or consider Jesus. Jesus who was the very Son of God. Jesus who as the Word made flesh, knew the Scriptures better than anyone else. Jesus who as true God should have been worshiped. Yet we read in the Gospels that it was His custom to go to the synagogue, to church, on Saturday, their day of worship. That’s right, it wasn’t Jesus custom to go to the mountain top each weekend to shine in glory and talk with Old Testament saints in glory. He only did that once. But rather He who is the Word came to hear the Word regularly at church. He who should have been worshiped, Himself went to worship God!

Why did Jesus go to church? Two reasons: One, is that He went to worship because it was the God-pleasing thing to do. And as our Substitute under the Law, He did what was right in God’s sight in our place. He kept the 3rd Commandment perfectly for us. But the second reason I would suggest, is that He was showing us that it is good to worship God and to hear and learn His Word. Even at age 12, Jesus was in the temple discussing God’s Word!

Often times we lose sight of why we go to church. We feel that we HAVE to go to church. Maybe we feel that we are doing God a favor by going to church or by earning brownie points with God. But that’s not true at all. Jesus lived a perfect life to earn all the brownie points for us.

In reality, when we go to church God is doing something for us. We come to church to hear the very thing Peter, James, and John heard on the Mount of Transfiguration. They were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ majesty. They heard the voice of God the Father from the Excellent Glory, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Every time we read or hear the Scriptures, we are hearing the same voice from heaven. Peter says of Scripture, For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. Think of what this means! When we read a psalm responsively, when we hear portions of Scripture used throughout our liturgy, when the Scripture lessons or sermon text are read, you are not hearing an award winning story from the fiction section of the library, but you are hearing the words of God Himself! The Holy Spirit gave these men the very words He wanted them to write. So when the Scriptures are being read in church, LISTEN because God Himself is speaking to you! And if we are hearing the word of God, we too can say, “’Tis good, Lord, to be here!”

What was it that God had to say about Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration? This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased! Throughout the Gospels, we hear that the Father was well pleased in His Son. He was pleased with His Son, because His Son obeyed Him in every respect. Jesus said, For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. (John 10:17) He was pleased with His Son because He was willing to do the most loving thing He could—lay down His life to save sinful man! When you come to church to hear the voice from heaven as recorded in the Words of Scripture, you should expect—even demand!—to hear about the beloved Son of God who came to be your Savior and give you eternal life! When this is the case, we may say with Peter, “’Tis good, Lord, to be here!”

Where else would you rather be than right here? When Peter was on the mount of Transfiguration, he said it was good to be there with Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. In his confusion Peter said he wanted to build tents for these three in glory. Peter didn’t want that amazing moment to end! But as amazing as that scene was, it came to an end just as quickly as it began. Jesus had work to do. He need to come down from that mountain to save us.

‘Tis good, Lord, to be here! Here where we have that prophetic word made more fully confirmed as we see it fulfilled in life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is good to be here to listen to Moses and the prophets speak of Jesus’ redemptive work. It is good to be here to listen to that voice from heaven, God’s Word, as recorded on the pages of Scripture. Here God speaks to us of His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased. Let us give heed to this light of God’s Word that shines in a dark place, until the day of Jesus’ return dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts. ‘Tis good, Lord, to be here! Amen!

—Pastor Nathan Pfeiffer

Berea Ev. Lutheran Church
Inver Grove Heights, MN

Once upon a Mountain Sacred

Once, upon a mountain sacred, God in glory did appear,
As our Lord did shine so brightly, Like the sun on earth so drear.
Can it be? Oh, praise the story: God as man dwelt with us here!

Once on Calvary’s holy mountain, God in glory did appear,
But that glory then was hidden, As He suffered pain severe.
Now those cries of bitter anguish Speak forgiveness in our ear.

Once upon the Mount of Olives; God in glory did appear,
Far above this earth ascending; From our sight to disappear.
Yet His promise shows us that He always shall be with us here.

Now from mountain unto mountain Praises echo far and near,
That our sins are all forgiven! Christ casts out our greatest fear.
This has now become our glory God in glory shall appear.

Written by Prof. Em. John Pfeiffer | Sung to melody of TLH #50

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