Sunday, March 3, 2019

Face to Face Transformation - Fr. Phil Eberhart

Transfiguration Sunday - Last Epiphany
March 3, 2019
Fr. Phil Eberhart

Ex 34:29-35 Ps 99 1 Cor 12:27-13:13 Lk 9:28-36

Face to Face Transformation

Have you ever looked in the mirror and tried to see Jesus?  I have to tell you... it's kinda hard!

One of my favorite things is to collect pictures of Jesus.  I have about 6 or 8 paintings and need to expand the collection and put them back up in my office some day... but I want to see what people think Jesus looked like.

I'm a little jealous of the painting that Brian and Barbara Felt have in their home, the Head of Christ that is referred to in Heaven is For Real, as the person that the young boy, Colton, met in heaven.

So what's the point of all the ramble here?  This morning is the Sunday of the Transfiguration - you probably figured that out from the readings!  Lots of talk about mountains and shining faces, clouds of glory with voices coming out of them and ... 
disciples who didn't get it.

My point is that Jesus wants to transform us into His image and likeness.  No we're probably not going to look like Him in a mirror sort of way - we will look just like we do now, for better or worse - but there will be an inner change, an inner transformation or transfiguration into His image.  So what IS THAT IMAGE?

How many of you read the Gospels through regularly? I know many read the Bible regularly but do we do what James encourages us to do:

[Jas 1:22-25 NLT] 
22 But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don't obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

"If you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free" - there is the challenge isn't it? And then do it!
Jesus said that the one who DID His Word, was the one whose house was built on bedrock.  No storm can assail it!  Let the storm's come as they will.

Paul gives us the secret in Rom 12:
12 Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvelous mercies? I encourage you to surrender yourselves to God to be his sacred, living sacrifices. And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights his heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship.
Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you,[a] but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes. (The Passion Translation)
How do we start to look like Jesus?
The writer of Hebrews gives us a giant instructional clue...

Chapter 12 
As for us, we have all of these great witnesses[a] who encircle us like clouds. So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us[b] and the sin we so easily fall into.[c] Then we will be able to run life’s marathon race[d] with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us.[e]
We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection.[f] His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his,[g] he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation,[h] and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!
So consider carefully how Jesus faced such intense opposition from sinners who opposed their own souls,[i] so that you won’t become worn down and cave in under life’s pressures. (The Passion Translation)

There we have it again:   Consider Carefully , Fasten your gaze, ... "Fix your eyes on Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of your faith!"

What do spend time with?  How do you read the Bible? Just a verse here and there, a glance in the morning, the verse of the day?  Sure God speaks to us through these "snacks" but do you ever sit down and have the full meal deal?

Look intently - Consider carefully - Fasten your gaze!

On the mountain top, the disciples saw a lot - they saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus - in all His glory - shining face, clothes like lightening and all - kind of a pre-cursor for the Apostle John who would have another of those kinds of revelations late in his life on Patmos.  Read Rev. 1 some day!

They saw and apparently heard what they were talking about!  How Jesus was going to bring to fulfillment all that they stood for - the Law and the Prophets - in his soon departure from Jerusalem.  That may be why he said, "IT IS FINISHED!"

But the disciples, just like us so often, completely missed the point of the conversation, so God just makes it plain:  We're not going to make a new tabernacle - it's not about camping here on the mountaintop and staying in the glory - It's all about Jesus!  "This is my beloved SON ... LISTEN TO HIM!"

This is about Jesus and His Word to us.  Daily Bread!

What does Jesus look like, face to face?  Have you gazed?  Have you heard, read, marked, learned and inwardly digested?

Let's just look at 3 verses: Our reading from 1 Cor 13

Love is large and incredibly patient.[f] Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous[g] when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated[h] or quick to take offense.[i] Love joyfully celebrates honesty[j] and finds no delight in what is wrong.[k] Love is a safe place of shelter,[l] for it never stops believing the best for others.[m] Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. Love never fails!

If you ever wonder what Jesus looked like, try this portrait!  This is the kind of portrait that will lead us to look like HIM!  And its all over the place in the New Testament - and its the fulfillment of all the Torah teaches and all the Prophets speak about - in Him it was FINISHED.

Paul tells us that Jesus is the "visible image of the invisible God!"  And we are charged with coming to look like HIM.  We are HIS BODY, Paul says, "The fullness of Him who fills all in all!" (Eph 1)  

One final scripture, where Paul is talking to the Corinthians about Moses and the veil we read about this morning in Exodus 34.

2 Cor 3 (TPT)

16 But the moment one turns to the Lord[i] with an open heart, the veil is lifted and they see.[j] 17 Now, the “Lord” I’m referring to is the Holy Spirit,[k] and wherever he is Lord, there is freedom.
18 We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus.[l] We are being transfigured[m] into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another.[n] And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Friends, I don't want you to make the mistake that the boys did on the mountain.  Take the sermon and make it into a religious exercise!  The key is what God said on the mountain, "This is my beloved Son, listen to Him."
The work of the Holy Spirit is called that because it's NOT OUR JOB to make ourselves look like Jesus. It's our job to LISTEN TO HIM and the Holy Spirit will make us new, different, transformed, Spirit-filled - all the things we want in our character, all the changes we need in how we live with others, all the ways others see us, here in the church and out in the world - will be transfigured when we "mirror" Jesus face to those around us.

The whole world is waiting for it.

Please pray with me...

Loving Father God, Beloved and Beautiful Jesus, Indwelling Holy Spirit - envelop us this morning in the cloud of Glory and let us hear Your Voice speaking to us deep inside our hearts.  Speak to us of your love that transforms us into your likeness. Overshadow us and give us your glory, wave after wave of glory, glory upon glory, by the power of Your Spirit.  Come, Holy Spirit and touch our hearts and lives - change our minds in transformational renewal.  We want to see Jesus when we look in the mirror! And let others see Jesus in us!
For His Kingdom's glory and the fame of His Name.