February 13, 2024


On Christ the Solid Rock

On Christ the Solid Rock
Trinity Lutheran Church, Greeley, Colorado
On Christ the Solid Rock

Feb 13 2024 | 00:24:55


Show Notes

Transfiguration Sunday Sermon February 11, 2024  Rev. Josh Vanderhyde

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:01] Grace, mercy and peace be to you. From God our father, and from our lord and savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. [00:00:11] On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. [00:00:20] Later today, someone is going to sink, and someone is going to stand. Right? [00:00:32] One team will be elevated, one team will be demoted. Well, no, they'll still be honored. They got pretty far, right? [00:00:41] All right. One team will be exalted, one team not. And of the exalted team, one member will be exalted beyond all the others. Which one is that? [00:00:53] The quarterback. [00:00:55] The quarterback? Because, well, the quarterback is, you could say, already at the top of the hierarchy of a football team, managing it from the top, right? You could say he's the head and the team is the body. And the body is moving according to his direction, standing and sinking. This is the same imagery as that of a mountain. You could say we're talking the same vertical kind of thing. And on the one hand, you've got the valley of the shadow of death, and on the other hand, you have the mountaintop. [00:01:28] So we're going to talk a little bit about the benefits of a mountain, the symbolism of a mountain. What a mountain not just symbolizes. It's not arbitrary. Think about it. A mountain actually means all these things. And so whenever you see a mountain in scripture or in the liturgy, think of these things. And then one of the things that I want us to accomplish this morning is to also think of glory in the same way, to tie glory to the mountain. Because each service I've noticed more and more, the first one and in the second one, how many times the word glory shows up in the liturgy or in the creed, or, I mean, just all over the place in the hymns. [00:02:16] Glory is also associated with the mountain, which is why Jesus goes up a mountain with a few of his disciples in our gospel reading this morning. And there on the mountaintop, his glory is like, okay, where are we? [00:02:42] Okay, the mountaintop, right? What's a mountain? [00:02:46] There are a few ways that we can think about this. All right? So, first of all, just think a mountain is a safe place. [00:02:55] I guess you could think of climbing a mountain as a dangerous endeavor, and it is hard, but that's part of why it makes it a safe place, right? The mountaintop is the safe place. And so if there's a flood, you don't want to be down in the valley. That's the dangerous place, right? Or if you have an army after you, the valley is not the place you want to be. You want to be on a high place that's why throughout the history of the world, fortresses have been built on mountaintops. It's the safe place. An eagle doesn't make its nest in a valley on the ground. An eagle makes its nest up out of reach in an eerie. Up in the cliffs, right on the rock. [00:03:38] A rock is like a little mountain on Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. Or you could say the valley of the shadow of death. All these images are aiming at similar things. [00:03:54] Well, a mountain is also a place of knowledge. [00:03:58] If you're lost up in the mountains, if you go hiking and you get lost, one of the things you might want to do is climb up to a high place so that you can see where you are. You might be able to see above the trees. If you get really high up, you can see all the valleys. And then I guess then the challenge would be coming down the mountain and remembering what you saw, right. But if you go up the mountain, you have perspective. [00:04:25] All of these things are in play. When we see a mountain, or last week in Isaiah 40, we saw, we heard those who wait for the Lord will mount up on wings like eagles. And actually, that was in our first hymn, too. [00:04:39] But it's this image of having a bird's eye view, understanding, in contrast to being down in the valley, where all you can see is the hills around you, you don't know what it is. Or the scarier image of being in a pit. Right. [00:04:54] In a fog. Is it still foggy out there? [00:04:58] Yeah. [00:05:01] I could see in front of me driving to church, but I couldn't see 100 yards in front of me. Right. [00:05:07] So an eagle goes up above the clouds. Or if you climb a 14, or you're up about above the clouds and you have understanding that's built into these images, like mounting up on wings like eagles or ephesians two, being seated in the heavenly places with Christ. [00:05:26] It's being given heavenly perspective, heavenly wisdom. [00:05:33] Finally, the mountain is about attention. [00:05:39] So when you're driving to Loveland on 34, one of the things that might draw your attention is I'm blanking. I'm not actually looking for an answer. No, it's Long's peak. Thank you. Thank you. Long's peak. Right. Why does it command attention? Well, because it's big. Because you can see it from miles away, and a whole lot of people can see it at the same time. So you can imagine as you're driving down highway 34, if it's a clear day, probably multiple people on the same highway at the same time are looking at Long's Peak, and then you can imagine from a lot of different roads and a lot of different places, and there might even be people online on their computers looking up pictures of Long's peak because they long to climb it. [00:06:32] Long's peak, because it's great and grand and tall, especially commands attention. [00:06:39] So if we want to exalt something like praise the Lord, exalt him and worship him at his holy mountain, that's part of what's going on there, that we're giving him attention. We're saying, you are worthy of my attention, our attention, everyone's attention. [00:07:00] God is first and foremost worthy of attention. And so he gets the highest place, just like your highest priority gets your attention, too. [00:07:11] The things that you think are most important are at the top of that hierarchy. And you look to them, you give them your attention. [00:07:19] So when we worship God, well, the arrow. Right. He's up. Okay, this is going on with the mountain. [00:07:27] So a mountain is a safe place. [00:07:32] Mountain is a place of knowledge, of understanding, heavenly wisdom, heavenly perspective. And a mountain is something deserving of attention. The top of the mountain, which is the place where heaven and earth meet. So there we find Jesus, right? The place of security and the place of wisdom and understanding, the place of importance. That's where we find Jesus when he displays his glory. [00:08:08] Now, speaking of attention, that's also the purpose of him shining. [00:08:15] There he is shining. Why? Well, what's special about something shiny? Well, it grabs our attention. [00:08:24] Somebody who just kind of follows their whims or is easily distracted, we might say that they go after whatever's shiny, right. [00:08:35] Shiny things draw our attention. [00:08:38] Now, we give our attention to all kinds of things that don't deserve our attention, don't we? [00:08:46] In the words of, well, I suppose J-R-R. Tolkien. Right? But spoken about Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings, all that is gold does not glitter. It's not always clear, actually, what deserves our attention. There are all kinds of sparkling things that make us desire them, right? Or that draw our attention. And because we're maybe confused because we live in the valley of the shadow of death and we're, you could say, hemmed in by the hills of wickedness, and you could kind of just go on with that imagery, right? We don't always know what's gold and what we actually should follow, so we go after shiny things, but we see Jesus on the mountaintop. And part of the point is to say, this is what's valuable. [00:09:46] Christ has come down from heaven to show us what's truly good. What ought to be at the top of our hierarchy of values? What should be our highest priority? What is the highest good? [00:10:03] Christ has come to show us that. Of course, he doesn't always glitter either, does he, when he's on the cross? [00:10:11] Remember those words? All that is gold does not glitter. [00:10:14] Just because he's not wielding power doesn't mean he's not powerful. [00:10:20] Right? Just because he's not beautiful on the cross doesn't mean that he's not beautiful. [00:10:27] Sometimes it's hidden. Sometimes it's there to be discovered, to be revealed to us. [00:10:35] That, I think, is part of the meaning of the cloud on the mountain transfiguration, perhaps. [00:10:44] So they're up there, the few disciples, James, Peter and John. Peter, James and John are up on the mountain with Jesus, and they see Jesus in all his glory, and it makes them uncomfortable. It's like, we shouldn't be here. [00:10:59] It's just like, stay with me. It's just like later today, after the super bowl, when one of the teams is exalted and the other one feels like it's just sunk down in the sinking sand. [00:11:16] When one team is exalted, then they're going to roll a mountain, a little mountain onto the field, and the quarterback will ascend. The quarterback of the winning team, of course, he'll ascend, and he'll be given glory and he'll be decorated, and he'll be given a trophy, you could say kind of like a crown, I suppose. In ancient Greece it would have been a crown. Or in our epistle reading last week, they do it to win a perishable wreath. [00:11:44] Put on your head we and imperishable. So anyway, so the quarterback will ascend the little mountain that's rolled onto the hill, and he will be glorified. And everyone, millions of people will pay attention to him and sort of give him glory because he has ascended the highest mountain of the world of football. Right. With knowledge, wisdom, and, of course, he's kind of made his team secure. They're the only team that hasn't sunk down. We'll just try and use the same imagery here. Right. Okay. [00:12:23] So the quarterback will be lifted up. I said, stay with me. And then I didn't say it to myself. [00:12:35] There's so much imagery going on. [00:12:39] Got to stay on the right track here. [00:12:43] Okay, I got back there. [00:12:45] Jesus is on the mountain there, shining. Okay. But it makes his disciples uncomfortable. [00:12:54] Now, imagine if you were at the game and you just happen to be there on the field or close to the field. Or maybe you're in the stands and someone grabs you and says, hey, come with me. And then takes you up the little mountain on the field, and you're standing next to the quarterback. Would that make you uncomfortable? [00:13:19] They're clapping at you, and you're like, that wasn't me. [00:13:25] Would that make you uncomfortable? I think that's kind of what the disciples are experiencing up there on the mountain with Jesus, is that they're seeing his glory. [00:13:35] They're with God, and it's frightening. [00:13:40] They feel like they don't belong there. [00:13:43] Well, the thing is, that's actually what they're destined for. And that comes through in the collect of the day this morning pretty strongly in the voice that came from the bright cloud. You wonderfully foreshadowed our adoption by grace. [00:14:03] Mercifully make us co heirs with the king in his glory. [00:14:10] Just like going up there with the quarterback. [00:14:15] They're destined to share the throne, co heirs of the kingdom. You could say they're destined by grace to be children of God alongside the son of God, who's the son of God by nature. [00:14:31] Mercifully make us co heirs with the king in his glory. [00:14:36] So you see the glory of Jesus, that glory is for you by his grace. [00:14:44] Now in our epistle reading, says that Jesus is the image of God, verse four of chapter four of two corinthians. In their case, the God of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. Who is the image of God? [00:15:19] Christ is the image of God, and the work of Christ is to restore us in the image of God. [00:15:30] And that means glory. [00:15:34] Now, glory maybe should make us uncomfortable, just like it makes Peter, James, and John uncomfortable. In a way. [00:15:42] Humility, maybe, is a better thing to focus on as we head into Lent. [00:15:49] Lent is not the mountaintop lent. We go back down the mountain like Peter, James, and John did, and we spend time in the wilderness with Jesus. You could say that during Lent we're humbling ourselves, like Peter says, interesting. It's Peter. [00:16:08] Peter says, humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that at the proper time you may be exalted. So it's humility for the sake of exaltation, not exaltation that you do for yourself, right? You're not lifted up because you're so great, right? And likewise, the quarterback, if he's a good guy, he'll ascend a little mountain on the field. He'll be given a microphone, and we hope that he'll thank his parents and his kindergarten teacher and all his little league coaches and everybody who's led him that way. And then hopefully also God, who's created him and given him strength and a mind to comprehend the heavenly wisdom of football and all of those kinds of things, right? [00:17:01] In the same way you are destined for glory in Christ, destined to be renewed, right? Recreated in the image of God by his right. You've been destined to ascend the mountain of the Lord and to be glorified with Christ. [00:17:25] There's a whole lot of work to be done in the meantime. [00:17:29] There's lent in front of us. Okay, we're on the mountaintop. This is what God has planned for us in Christ. And in Christ we see it, the first fruits of the new creation. [00:17:41] A little glimpse before he goes to his death, right? There's a lot of work to be done for Jesus, too. And then he's going to be raised from the dead. And he says, don't tell anybody about this until after I'm raised from the dead. There's work to be done. [00:17:54] There's work to be done for us because we still walk through the valley of the shadow of death. [00:18:03] But the thing is that the hope of what's to come and what God's promised for us, it's not just kept in heaven for us, waiting for us. [00:18:16] It's not held completely for the end. [00:18:19] We go into lent, into the wilderness. We walk in the valley of the shadow of death. We have the fog around us of difficulties. Like the hymn says, when darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace in every high and stormy gale. My anchor holds within the veil. [00:18:42] See, we know that we're going to come out the other side of this battle, this struggle, this testing in the wilderness. We're going to come out the other side and we're going to ascend the little mountain on the field with Christ. [00:18:59] You could say like we know we're going to win. Well, do we? [00:19:07] If you're prideful, this was kind of related to last week's epistle reading. It came after the reading, but I mentioned it in the sermon, right? If anyone thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall. Pride comes before the fall. Is it a done deal? Well, we're still playing the game. Well, how do we get there, right? How do we win the battle? How do we ascend the little mountain with Christ? The big mountain, you know what I mean? How do we ascend with Christ? How do we win? How do we become co heirs with the king in his glory, God tells us on the mount of Transfiguration, that's where he gives us all kinds of answers, right? So the cloud comes. [00:19:52] The cloud comes because here we are. Here we are in the struggle of daily life. [00:20:01] The cloud comes. It covers Christ's glory, so they can't see anything. And when you can't see anything, what do you have to do? [00:20:10] You just have to listen, right? When you can't see well, you can hear. [00:20:17] So God says, out of the cloud, he says, you are my beloved son. [00:20:22] Sorry, that's Edis baptism. [00:20:24] In the cloud, on the mount of Transfiguration. God says, this is my beloved son. [00:20:31] Listen to him. [00:20:33] Right? Listen to him. And what is listening? It's paying attention. It's attention. Remember, the mountain's about attention. Glory is about attention. Jesus is deserving of our attention. [00:20:48] In fact, he wants all of our attention. And that's what Lent is about. That's what the wilderness is about. [00:20:56] You might give up some things for Lent, right? Or you might fast, which is just another way of giving things up. The idea of all of that, of spiritual discipline in general, is to eliminate distractions. What are distractions? They're things that would grab your attention. [00:21:14] So Lent and the wilderness, it's about attention. It's about attention to Christ. And the thing is that even in the wilderness, where the wild animals are. I'm excited for that reading coming up. Jesus out there in the wilderness with the wild animals. Well, that's not a very secure place. [00:21:30] Even in the wilderness with the wild animals, even in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. [00:21:42] You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, like there's the danger right there. And we're feasting. [00:21:50] That's the point. [00:21:53] Here we are in the wilderness of this life, in the battle, in the struggle, in the game, where we can't see clearly, like we don't know what's in front of us. So how do we survive? We walk by faith and not by sight. Faith comes by hearing, right? We listen to Jesus, and listening, it requires attention. And here we are. We've got 40 days in the wilderness with Jesus. 40 days to focus on listening to him, to eliminate distractions, to change habits and patterns, routines to adjust things, to be more suitable for faith. [00:22:42] A time to focus and focusing on Christ. He lifts us up. [00:22:48] Those who wait for the Lord will renew their strength. They'll mount up on wings like eagles. [00:22:55] Not like someday, like right now, I'm going to be depressed and I'm going to despair. No, it's actually looking to Christ. The veil is removed and we all, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed, are being transformed from one degree of glory to another. [00:23:13] Even as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we are lifted up. We're raised up in Christ and given heavenly perspective. We're given security in the midst of the difficulties, in the midst of the storm, we stand right on Christ, the rock, on the mountain, on the mountaintop. So this lent, don't think of it so much as considering your sin in order to get depressed about yourself or to despair, right? [00:23:43] Yeah, despair of what's earthly in you, right? Like Paul says, put to death what's earthly in you. But that's just because that's the weight of sin that'll trip you up, hang on to you as you run the race. That's the gradual for the season of Lent. We'll be hearing that over and over again throughout the season of Lent. Fixing your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, looking to Jesus and being transformed by him, thanks be to God. And what's even cooler is that it's not just for us individually, it's for us as a group. [00:24:25] We're all following Jesus together. And so one person gets distracted and we point them back, right? And we do this as a group, as God's people, as Christ's body receiving from him. [00:24:40] Now I got to go back to the Super bowl. [00:24:43] The whole team is triumphant with the quarterback. [00:24:48] Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ in his name, amen.

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