Transfiguration Of Our Lord “Consider Jesus”
February 27, 2022 Hebrews 3:1-6
Dear brothers & sisters in Christ,
Two words. Two simple, carefully chosen words from our Epistle lesson, Hebrews 3; they tell us something to do: ‘Consider Jesus’. Why? Because, -says the writer in vs.3- “For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses.” The heading for this section in many Bibles makes this bold declaration of truth: Jesus is Greater Than Moses. While that IS both bold and true, you & I would also say that it is quite …obvious, even elementary.
And I am quite confident that if I asked each one of you if you came here this morning to glorify Moses, you would all say ‘no’. And if I asked the question who is greater, Moses or Jesus, 100% of you would say ‘Jesus’ == even tho Moses was pretty great.
So, why would the writer of this Epistle think this obvious statement must be said? Because he is writing to people who are ‘Hebrews’; the Jews, Israelites by ancestry, whose lives centered on obeying the Law of Moses.
What is so obvious, even child-like, to us needed to be taught & confessed at various times & in various places; & it still does. For the next few minutes, let’s put ourselves back there in the place of three men who didn’t yet know what you & I know. Peter, James & John are in a position we have not been in for a long time = maybe even from our infancy: they were not yet so clear on who this Jesus was. By the Baptism of the HSp & thru the Living Word, you & I heartily confess Jesus as ‘the sent-one & great high priest from heaven’; but these men have not yet been confirmed in that confession. In fact, at that time, for someone to claim that anyone was greater than Moses would’ve come as quite a shock.
If the transfiguration of Jesus took place on Mount Tabor, it’s just over 1,800 feet high; that’s taller than the Empire State Building, even taller than the now-absent twin-towers of the World Trade Center. I suppose, as fishermen, Peter, James & John were quite sturdy men. So when Jesus invited them to come with Him up a mountain for some secluded prayer-time away from any crowds, maybe they didn’t hesitate. You & I might’ve; or we would’ve first asked ‘which mountain,’ or ‘how high?’
On the other hand, maybe they did sigh & were not excited about the exercise that day. As fishermen, they were used to the flatness of water & not mountain-climbing.
This may remind US of times when Jesus has expected us to follow & obey Him, but we sigh, hesitate, grumble, or complain because doing the right things with Jesus often takes extra time & effort; and people make fun of us, or exclude us. So resisting the wrong ways of our culture, or our friends, or our family is as inviting as walking up a thousand feet. It can be hard to carve out time & effort for /worship, /prayer, /Bible devotions, /& learning God’s wisdom for life. We know those are all good for us, but sometimes it seems as difficult as mountain-climbing.
Those three men may have sighed that day, but let’s think the best of them. This was not the first time Jesus went to the hills to pray; so we’ll assume that Peter, James & John did not mind either the physical exercise or the spiritual exercise. In fact, climbing up among the rocks could remind them of what they learned in Holy Scripture == about the heroes of the Hebrew people, who often met with God up on mountains. They heard the glorious stories when they were children. They heard of Abraham ascending Mt.Moriah; king David leading the Israelites to victory against the enemies who attacked Mt.Zion; and the prophet Elijah
who hid from evil queen Jezebel on Mt.Horeb, and he was there when God passed by with
a quiet whisper.
And the most glorious stories they learned as children were those surrounding great Moses = God’s chosen deliverer for His people Israel. Moses was born as a slave child, to slave parents, at a time when the Pharaohs had forgotten Joseph and oppressed God’s people. While the other male babies were being drown in the Nile River, Moses was put in a basket, a little ark, and he floated into the household of the king of Egypt. Amazing! Then Moses stood up for his people & killed a man, and had to flee to the mountains. There Yahweh talked to him thru a burning bush, using Moses to bring 10 plagues upon pharaoh, & then he led the people thru the Red Sea and drown Egypt’s army. Incredible!
Thru Moses the people were given the Ten Commands, The Torah, the Law & Statutes to become a mighty nation. *What man in history was used by God as much as Moses? Thru him the people were given /the daily guidance, /the weekly sabbath, /the monthly festivals, /and the yearly Passover. Those were their life!
For Peter, James, John, and all the Jews, the stories of Moses were what most affected their life & their faith. And suddenly, on that mountain, on that day, they’re standing there in the presence of great Moses, along with Elijah, who were talking with Jesus. Phenomenal!
But now the author of Hebrews is declaring: Consider Jesus. In Chpt.1, he asks: Did the Heavenly Father ever say to anyone else: ‘this is my Son’ ? Consider Jesus. And that day, the Father’s voice was unequivocal & clear as crystal: “This is my Son, my Chosen One;
listen to him!” (Lk 9:35).
But, not focusing on Moses would change history. After 1,500 years of admiring & revering great Moses, *could it be that Jesus IS more worthy of glory than he? Could be; because the Scripture had also taught them that the promised Messiah would be the greatest of all. So, *is it because of Moses that Peter feels honored to be there, and proposes his idea: ‘Master, let’s stay awhile.’ He doesn’t realize what he’s saying, but it would be a very natural mistake to see this as a moment to take-in the glory of Moses and the great prophet Elijah. What WE know -& what Peter didn’t yet recognize- was that he was confusing the glory of a great house with the glory of the builder of the house.
But soon he would realize it. It was Jesus’ face that was altered, and Jesus’ clothes that became dazzling white = not Moses or Elijah. It was Jesus that they had followed up the mountain, and it was Jesus alone they would follow down the mountain, after they had heard the voice out of the cloud saying, ‘this is my Son…listen to Him.’ That message was clear: consider Jesus = who is counted worthy of much more glory than Moses. Moses reflected God’s glory; but Jesus IS God in all His glory.
There is something else that YOU know, which Peter, James, & John would soon learn, it’s that God’s version of glory looks a lot like what the world considers shame. Up to this point, they have experienced some opposition, but the worst was yet to come. *What was this ‘departure’ at Jerusalem that Moses & Elijah had talked to Jesus about? It didn’t sound the same as the glory of Moses. But now Moses is gone, and these three are following The Father’s Chosen One down the mountain; *what are they thinking? Maybe now they’re thinking of the great things they have seen Jesus do, and the glorious things they have heard Him preach & promise.
*How would those things compare to Moses? Well, +Moses is from ‘of old,’ going way back in time; & people have been flocking to Moses for centuries. Yet, Jesus is the ‘ancient of days’; He was there in the very beginning. He did say, ‘I and the Father are one.’
+Moses separated the sea. Yet, Jesus walked on water & calmed the storm & commanded fish into nets. +At Moses’ word bread was found on the ground every morning for 40 years. But Jesus Himself is ‘the bread of life.’ +Moses made water flow from a rock. But the water Jesus gives is ‘the living water, welling up to eternal life.’ +Moses wrote the Torah, the sacred words. But Jesus IS the very Word of God made flesh.
Come to think of it: That glory the disciples saw on the mountain, the glory that shined & bounced off the faces of Moses & Elijah, was the glory of God-in-Jesus. It seems like Moses was there that day to reflect our message this morning: You think I’m great? Consider Jesus. +Moses wrote of the 7th Day Sabbath-rest, but Jesus said, ‘come to me …and I will give you rest.’ +Moses took the Israelites from slavery to glorious freedom in Canaan. But that can hardly compare to the exodus that Jesus gives: out of sin and into full pardon, from death to life, from hell to heaven. Jesus had declared: whoever lives and believes in ME will never die. So, who is worthy of more glory?
So, the author to the Hebrews ends our reading today with words intended to convert and satisfy the staunchest defender of Moses. He says that Moses was faithful as a servant IN God’s house; but Jesus is faithful OVER God’s house. Moses was a great servant; Jesus is the greater Son. Later, one of these three disciples, John, wrote in his gospel account, in chpt. 8, “A servant doesn’t remain in the house forever, but the Son does, he remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.” (Jn 8:35–36).
The HSp, in Hebrews 3, was not only talking to the Hebrew people of 2,000 yrs ago; the HSp is still talking to you & me & those around us. ‘Consider Jesus’, because He is the only One who is able to offer true freedom from sin, freedom from the fear of death, and freedom to live in peace. It’s because He is more than great; He is The Son, the Chosen One, who has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses = or anyone else, ever.
The HF tells us to ‘listen to him’, the One whose voice commanded the dead to rise; the One who commands the living to remain in Him -who is the Vine- and to bear good fruit.
So, even tho you know Jesus well & confess Him as ‘worthy,’ there are many distractions and detractors around you. So ‘Consider Jesus’ = often. Consider the One who forgives your sins of this past week, as well as those sins you’ve worried about from years ago. Moses was great, but Jesus showed the glory of God when He bled & died on the cross to pay for & remove all your sin. He is worthy of more glory than Moses, Elijah, Abraham, & David combined. Yes, we believe that; but do we daily live like we believe that?
You may have noticed, for a few years now, the increased use of the word ‘goat’ as an acronym = those 4 letters, g-o-a-t stand for ‘greatest of all time.’ You may have heard NFL quarterback Tom Brady referred to as ‘the goat’. Who was the goat-prophet? Moses.
And yet, who did Jesus say was the g-o-a-t born-of-woman? John the Baptist = the greatest of all time. And then Jesus said, ‘the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is even greater than he.’
Maybe you consider your mother or father a great hero of the faith; maybe it’s a grandparent, a relative or a friend, & you give them high praise or glory. You might have a favorite Bible character who you consider the ‘greatest of all time,’ and you try to reflect the glory of their faith in your life. Maybe its Paul, or Peter, Mary or Martha. We are thankful to God for all those who have demonstrated a great faith that we can identify with. But know that Jesus is worthy of even more glory than all of them.
Therefore, listen to Him and follow Him. He was the One who came down the mountain to walk with us in the valley of the shadow of death, and sought the glory of Mount Calvary & that terrible cross instead of any earthly glory. Moses was great, but he died and no one knows where his grave is. When Jesus died, death & the grave could not hold His glory.
Two words: Consider Jesus. He is gladly & fully sharing with you the glory of His death-to-sin and His resurrection to living a new life now, and the promise of a heavenly life to come.