Transfiguration – See his true glory
Sunday, February 14, 2020
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Where Is the Wonder?
We are drawn to wonder. Each of us is drawn to the people and places that fill us with awe and wonder and make us say, “wow.” I don’t watch football very often. But years ago I watched the Superbowl at one of my member’s houses. And there was so much “wow” added to it. They have come up with this amazing technology that follows the football player down the field. It makes you feel as if you are right behind the receiver or running back. I’m not even that much into football. But even I wanted to sit down and watch the game because of the wonder involved. We, each of us, is drawn to wonder in our every day lives. But it is even more true in our spiritual lives. This morning we hear about three disciples who see a wondrous sight. For a little, tiny bit, they see a little tiny bit of Jesus’ glory. In the words we look at this morning, God’s word let’s us know not just that there is wonder, but where we can actually find it. In 2 Corinthians, we read: “3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor. 4:3–4 NIV11-GKE)
Where is the wonder? Where is the wow, the might, the power, and the glory? Paul starts out by letting us know that wonder is not to be found in the world. And tells us why. The god of this age, Satan, has blinded those who are perishing. True wonder is found in Jesus alone. Who he is and what he does is higher, better, and more wondrous than any amazing person of place here on earth. Satan knows this. So he carriers out two tasks. First, he takes the good gifts that God gives us and tries to get us to exchange lesser wonder for greater wonder. How many people do you know are there that find more excitement in watching the Superbowl than in hearing a sermon on Sunday morning? The second task he carries out is to make people conclude that the sins they should repent of are actually wondrous. As Christians, we know this, don’t we? But, we have to confess, there have been times that we have listened to the voice of the god of this age. There have been times we have loved to have Satan blind our eyes. And so, we confess that there have been times that lesser good gifts have been more wondrous than the greater gift of Jesus. And, sadly, the desires we should be ashamed of have filled us with wonder when they should not have. We repent of these sins. And Jesus goes down from the mount of tranfiguration and climbs up another hill. And there on Golgotha he dies and pays for those sins too. But God’s word tells us more about where to find this glory: “5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Cor. 4:5–7 NIV11-GKE)
Where is the wonder? It is not found in the world. But notice here where God’s word leads us. It is also not found in the worker. Paul mentions that this amazing, wondrous treasure of God’s word is contained in a clay jar.1 Clay is fragile. If you drop it, the precious contents will be spilled out everywhere when the jar breaks. Paul is using this as a picture for your pastor. Wonder is not found in your called worker. Here is where we find two opposing temptations. The first is to make too much of a pastor. This wasn’t a temptation for my people in Pennsylvania since the next WELS congregation was hours away. But it is a temptation here for you. After a pastor has been here a year and he starts telling some of the same stories, some of the wow and wonder is gone from his sermons. So, there’s the temptation to travel down the road. That new guy in Winthrop—there is nothing but wonder in his sermons. But, my dear friends, each of us as pastors is a frail, fragile clay jar. There is nothing wondrous about us. That’s the one temptation, to make too much of a pastor. The other temptation is to make too little of a pastor. There is this temptation to forget that a pastor is a servant of Jesus, first, and you second. There is this temptation to treat the pastor like he is a mercenary hired-hand. If I need a plumber, I hire him. If I need a tax-adviser, I hire one. If I need a guy to talk to me about Jesus, I pay him. But a pastor isn’t your slave. He is a servant of Jesus first, as Paul says here. Then he is your servant.
So where is the wonder? It is not out there in the world. And the wonder is not found in the called worker. Where then is it found? It is found in God’s word. In our gospel for this morning, after the wonder fades from Jesus’ face, what does the Father say? He says, ““This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”” (Mark 9:7 NIV11-GKE) Ahh, there we begin to find out where the wonder is. The wonder is found in the words that Jesus speaks. Paul words it so beautifully here in these words. There is this powerful irony. This wonder of God’s promises and his power is contained and preserved here in the meat-bag of a human being called a pastor. But it is not the pastor that preserves the word. Instead it is the word that preserves the pastor. There have been so many times that this pastor has tried to find wonder out there in the world but it wasn’t there. And the wonder found there in God’s word has saved, forgiven, and preserved me. And, my dear friends in Christ, the same is true for you. If you want to find wonder, don’t look to the world. Don’t focus too much on your worker. Look to God’s word. God’s word is what Jesus used to give faith to you. Look at how Paul describes what we were and what we are. We were once darkness. But God made the light of his word shine in us. He turned our sin-darkened hearts into light. That is wonder.
If you want to see wonder look at what Jesus does through a pastor, not because of a pastor. In my closing years in PA there was a member who said, “it’s just like you said in that sermon years ago.’” And the embarrassing part is that I didn’t even remember preaching that sermon. But the Holy Spirit made sure that the true wow and wonder of that part of God’s word would be heard and remembered by that person. There is where the wonder is.
There is wonder in the promise that there will be a day when the wonder promised in God’s word will be fulfilled. There will be a day when we get to see Jesus face to face. But, my dear friends in Christ, know where to find that wonder. Day by day, seek to not find wonder out there in the world. And do not try and find that wonder in the worker. But, instead, through what that worker preaches, find wonder, hope, strength, and glory in God’s word. Amen.
1 “ⲟⲥⲧⲣⲁⲕⲓⲛⲟⲓⲥⲥⲕⲉⲩⲉⲥⲓⲛ” (2 Cor. 4:7 GNT-ALEX)