Jason Free

It Is Good To Be Here

by Jason Free on February 11th, 2024
Mark 9:2-9

Why are you here? And, yes, I mean here at Christ the Lord Lutheran Church and School. Why are you here? I know that’s a rude question, but have you thought about it lately? What led you to wake up today and think, “You know what? I’m going to go to church today, and I pick this one.” And for some of you, you’ve been waking up on a Sunday (Monday) for a long time and making the choice to come here, and I appreciate you, but I still want to know why you’re here. By the way, if there is anyone here worshiping for the first time, I’m usually a littler nicer than this, but I’m also curious why you’re here. 

Now, I can’t get answers as to why you’re all here today. We don’t have time for that, but if you ever want to get lunch and talk about it, I’d be okay with that. But, for now, I’m gonne let you think about why you’re here today, while I simply say this: It’s good that you’re here, and today as we come to the end of our journey with Jesus from the river of his baptism, and we’re now climbing with him up that mountain to his transfiguration. I hope you’re able to say the same, that it is good to be here.  

As we look at our lesson this morning and we see Peter, James, and John on a mountain with Jesus and we read about all these incredible things that happened on that mountain, you have to wonder if maybe those three disciples thought to themselves, “Why are we here?” I mean it all started out ordinary. Jesus took those three with him where they could be alone. In Luke we read Jesus wanted this time of solitude so he could pray, but that’s about as ordinary as this all gets. Once they settle in somewhere near the top of this mountain, we read that “There he [Jesus] was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” Luke tells us that Jesus’s “face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” That right there doesn’t happen too often – it never happens – and it only got, stranger. Look what else happened, “And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.” 

So, you picture all of this. Jesus’ face changed. Clothes like lightning. Crazy bright. And, the way I picture this brightness and flashiness is like an actual lighting storm that you are seeing from far-off. It’s mesmerizing. You can’t stop looking at it and being in awe of how bright and colorful it is as bolt after bolt comes shooting out of the sky. It’s miraculous! So, there is Jesus and now there are these two other guys, guys long gone from this earth, Moses and Elijah. Perhaps they are there to represent the Law and the Prophets, the Old Testament, which Jesus came to fulfill as our Savior.

But maybe there is another reason these two Biblical figures are present. These two had immense frustrations in their ministry. Moses, you might recall, struggled often as he led the Israelites in the wilderness and Elijah often felt like he was alone – the only one – proclaiming a message from God that few wanted to hear. Yet, during their ministries they both had a unique relationship with their heavenly Father. They, more than anyone else, understood God’s marvelous, tender, awesome wonder – and then how it was so tough to serve, to get here, to the glory that they were now in a glory that was theirs because of the man before whom they now stood. Now these two spoke with Jesus who, like them, would soon endure an exodus, a departure. 

Think about this conversation. Jesus, Moses, Elijah, talking about the greatest and highest theme in heaven and on earth. They spoke of Jesus’ suffering, his death, and his resurrection. They, with the Son of God now shining in all his glory, spoke of God’s plan for our salvation. A plan that would lead Jesus to a cross where all our sin would be put to death with him. 

And in all that glory, there still were Peter, James, and John witnessing this just crazy and unique and powerful moment. Now, think about it, why were they there? It seems Peter wondered the same thing, and he came to his own conclusion. He “said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” But then what do we read? “(He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)”In this amazing moment, can we blame Peter for his words? That he thought it would be smart to build some shelters for these three divine beings? I mean what would any of us have said in that moment? I can only imagine. And, yet, Peter said one thing that was so true, his first words, “Rabbi, Jesus, it is good for us to be here.” 

Brothers and Sisters, it is good to be here today. It is good to witness this moment in Scripture. To see our Savior in all his glory as he planned our salvation, and then to know that he carried out that plan and gifted us a place with him in eternal glory, a place in heaven. It is good to be here because we are not there, in heaven, yet. And like Peter we might wish to stay here in our safe space surrounded by God, and his Word, and his people, but the reality is that soon all of us will be right back out there in this world. And, you know this, this world it’s broken. 

This earth, once God’s masterpiece, has been ruined by sin and death. We have been ruined by sin and death. Maybe that is enough for us to remember why it is so good to be here today. Because we don’t deserve to be here. We confessed that today, do you remember? We confessed together that “we are altogether sinful from birth” and that we “deserve only God’s wrath and punishment.” Now, maybe you only said that because those were the words on the paper in front of you, but I hope you see the truth of those words. I hope you see the reality of yourself, and your need…for a Savior.

Go back to Peter and the other two disciples on that mountain, they were frightened, remember? Think about why. These were sinful men. Never before had anyone glimpsed God’s glory. In the Old Testament, contact with God’s glory was lethal. Back during the time of Moses, when God’s glory came down on Mt. Sinai and there was all the lightning and smoke, and thunder, all the people were told that even their cattle couldn’t touch the mountain where God’s glory rested, or they would die. And, so here is God’s glory shining out from Jesus, and God’s glory cloud and the disciples we read are “frightened.” I guess so, I don’t blame them.

And if you think about it this fear of God, or a god, has existed throughout history Throughout history people of different cultures have recognized that in order to worship their deity, whatever that deity might be, they required some holy place to do so, a temple, a tabernacle, a shrine, some special place to commune with their god. They also need someone to mediate between them and their god. So, you had priests or seers. You had rituals and sacrifices. Why?   Because in front of a god you can’t hide who you are and so there is always something keeping you, dividing you from that god. 

Only modern western people view this differently. Today, the thinking is often more that God should be the one serving us. That there is nothing that separates us from him. We are equals. Which means, if he’s not answering our calls, doing what we want, or fully accepting of who we are, well, he’s not worth our time. And, that’s one of the other reasons it’s good to be here. 

Here, as we stand in God’s presence, you can’t hide who you are. His glory reveals our lack of glory. His glory reveals our faults, and our flaws, and our dishonesty, and our selfishness, and so much more. God’s glory reveals that we truly are sinners fit to be utterly condemned and in moments of brutal clarity we pass that same sentence on ourselves. We condemn ourselves to the hell we deserve.

But as God’s glory was revealed in Jesus, what happened? An amazing thing happened. The disciples didn’t die. They lived. They saw his glory, they saw Jesus’s face and they lived. What does this mean? The Transfiguration is teaching us that Jesus is not only the God on the other side of the chasm that divides us, he is somehow also the bridge. He’s our substitute. Think about it. The disciples didn’t bring a sacrifice but Jesus was the sacrifice. They weren’t perfect, but Jesus was. And as that cloud of God’s glory came down, all this was made clear, as God the father repeated what he spoke at Jesus’s baptism, “This is my Son, whom I love; listen to him.” 

God chose his own Son to do everything we could not. He chose him because he knew we needed him.  He chose him to suffer. He chose him to die. He chose to forsake him so that he could welcome you. This was his plan. This was his will to save you. Here on a mountain this is what was discussed – you! How you would one day be brought into the glory of eternity.

But then the moment passed. God’s voice went silent, and we read “They no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.” It’s fitting. There Jesus stood having left behind his glory so he could now take those final steps that would lead to our own. There he stood alone because this is how salvation had to happen. He stood alone because he remembered you, how one day he would take you to be with him. 

And so, today, here you are. Why? Why are you here? What brought you to this place? Jesus. He did. He alone set you free from this wrecked and ruined world. He alone gave you the new life you now live. He alone will keep you with him through his Word and the Means of Grace. That’s why it is good to be here. Here we get to listen to him. Here we get to hear his proclamation of pardon and his declaration of peace. Here we get to walk with him, talk with him, and praise him as a family united in him. Here we take those steps that will one day lead to our own departure and an eternal glory with him forever. 

But, we’re not there yet. And, in this life then, it is good to daily remind ourselves why we come back here. Today, we see why. God chose his Son, not us, to bring us to our destination. And so we come here to listen to him. And as we listen to Jesus, and him alone, we can trust that he will see us home. And I bet you know what we will say when we get there, “It is good to be here.” Amen.  

Sermon Archive
I’m New to Christ the Lord Request More Information

Copyright © 2024
Website by Sinclair Design Group