Matthew 17:1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. 17:2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. 17:3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Eli’jah, talking with him. 17:4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli’jah.” 17:5 He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 17:6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe. 17:7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 17:8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. 17:9 And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of man is raised from the dead.”
What are you just sitting there for? Don’t just sit there, do something! This is a line I’m sure most of us have heard before. We need to be doing something. In our fast paced society, where we need easy mac, to speed up the time it takes to make macaroni and cheese, we need to be doing something. There is always something to do. That is what it seems Peter is doing here. He is needing to do something. Struck by the awe inspiring event that just took place. Can we imagine what Peter was thinking… There we were walking up the hill. Jesus asked me, and James and John to come with him up this mountain. So we walked up the side of this hill, and there right before us, Jesus turned form the guy in the dirty robe with dirty feet, to shining brilliantly white. And he was talking with two other people, could that be Moses, and Elijah? What in the world is going on here, I mean I just said he was the messiah, but I never expected this, we need to do something…
That is usually our first reaction to most things. Let’s do something. Let’s get busy and get this done, so we can move on to the next project. We need to stay busy. So Peter suggested they stay there and put up 3 tents, booths, or tabernacles, but what happened next. If we look at our text, we see that Peter is saying something in verse 17.4 and then verse 5 starts “While he was still speaking,” Peter was interrupted. Now this is probably something most of us can relate to. We are interrupted all the time by people. But has there been a time you can remember filling a little taken aback by an interruption. Maybe it was in a meeting when you were given a great idea you had and the boss interrupted you saying that is not a good idea. Or maybe in class you were talking with a friend or relating an idea to the class and the teacher interrupted you saying I am teaching the class, please listen to me. In moments like these we feel smaller, demeaned; our worth is taken away from us. Imagine how Peter felt, God interrupts Peter! If ever there was a time to feel about 2 inches tall, it might be when one is interrupted by God! Matthew presents the scene as if God were indicating to Peter, while he was still speaking, “Shut up and listen to me!”
We are so busy doing sometimes, we forget to stop and listen. Just like Peter we miss the point, we miss the word. Peter is one of the 3 inner circle disciples. He is the one disciple that truly gets it. He knows who Jesus is, we see this in Chapter 16 of Matthew, Jesus said to the disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you Peter! Peter knew that Jesus was the Messiah, he understood who Jesus was. But he could not listen to what Jesus had to do, because after his confession Jesus told them he would have to go to Jerusalem and suffer and die, and Matthew continues the story that Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” He could not hear what needed to be heard. He knew who Jesus was. He knew who God was, but that was not enough. Peter wanted to do something about the glorification of his Lord, but God wanted him to listen. And keep listening. The word in the Greek implies action that continues forever. This is my Son the beloved, listen to him now and keep on listening to him for ever. Just as Moses did when he went up onto the mountain and received the commandments and the laws from God, he was with God for forty days and forty nights, and he listened to God. God wants us to listen to Jesus. The silence in our service is meant to give us time to listen to God. Our prayers are times when we can listen to God. Jesus listened to God. He is the Beloved son of God because of his faithfulness to fulfill all righteousness, and he understands doing what God requires is more important than his own life, God requires him to be faithful to God’s righteousness.
And we are named beloved sons and daughters of God, if we stop and listen. Baptism is a connection of water and word. Luther says that baptism is water enclosed in God’s command and connected with God’s Word. And the sacrament of the Altar, Holy Communion is also connected with the word, the benefits of the Eucharist come to use according to Luther through the words given for you and shed for you. With out the word of God, our sacraments are nothing more than water being poured over some one, and bread and wine, but when we listen to the promise made through the word of God, these earthly elements become life changing, life transforming. We through these sacraments are transfigured into the likeness of Jesus. If we listen closely we can hear God claim us. In Baptism, God names us and claims us as his own. Just as he did to Jesus in his baptism, God names us his beloved, ones in whom he is well pleased.
Just like Peter it is not enough for us to know who Jesus is, but we must listen to what he has to say, and act accordingly. Jesus really did not want to hear what God had to tell him all the time, but he listened and acted in righteousness, to do what God required even when it required his own life. He tried to have the cross removed from him, if it is possible remove this cup from me, yet not my will but your will, be done. What you tell me to do, I am listening. Speak Lord, your servant is listening. We need to stop and listen, for that still small voice. Peter was lucky. He had the cloud role in the God boom in, “Peter, excuse me, but listen up!” We do not always get this, most times God comes to us in a still small voice, speaking ever so gently, but if we are listening, oh the wonderful things we can hear. To be called beloved by the creator of the cosmos. Peter James and John reacted correctly to the booming voice of God, to fall prostrate on the ground in fear. But when we feel the touch of God, and hear him say to us, “Get up and fear not my beloved child. I am with you, and will never leave you.” This can give us the strength to go on and do the work he has called us to do. To go into all the world, making disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them everything I have commanded you. We can do, because we take the time to listen.
Embrace Jesus, and listen to God. Do not be afraid to stop, and do nothing to sit in his presence and listen to him. He will be with us always even until the end of the age, and he has called us to do a part no one else can do. Listen, ever so closely and hear him say to you, you are my beloved. My daughter, my son, in whom I am well pleased. I love you and will never leave you, just listen. Listen.