A reading from the Gospel of Luke. About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up into the mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. He did not know what he was saying. While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid. As they entered the cloud, a voice came from the cloud saying, this is my son, whom I have chosen. Listen to him. When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.
The Word of God.
He’S loud enough. All right, kids, you’re off the kids alive. Lord, we pray you, bless them as they go, that you fill them with your Holy Spirit, and that you teach them through the teachers of the Word. In Jesus name. Thank you, Rick. Father, we also pray for us as we’re here. We are also your children, and we long to hear from you, to know you and to love you more and more. So we pray these things in Jesus name. Amen. Hold on a second here. Getting a little bit of ringing from the guitar there. So this is a special day. First of all, I just want to welcome all who are visiting here today. It’s great to have you, and it’s great to see the love and support that you’re showing for Will and Lily and for Tolman. So thank you for that. So that’s what we’re here today to celebrate, to celebrate the baptism of Tolman. But we’re also here I’m to worship the Lord. And this happens to be the last Sunday in a season that the Church calls Epiphany, which starts after the season of Christmas. And it comes through, and it happens before the season of Lent, which is coming.
But Epiphany just basically means this. It means the appearing, the bringing to light, the revelation, and that God is a God who loves to reveal himself. He loves to show himself. He loves to speak. But the question is always is, are we listening? God is always speaking, but are we listening? Listening to God has immense, immense benefits. People who listen to God receive from God his peace. People who listen to God receive from God his direction and his wisdom. They receive understanding and purpose for their lives. They receive comfort, consolation in their sorrows, the blessings of listening to God. I just wouldn’t have enough time to really go into all of them. But the consequences of not listening to God are disastrous. They are literally disastrous, either immediately or eventually. How many of you know disaster can come on you? Eventually slow cracks and foundations that ultimately one day break apart because nothing was ever done to correct them, either immediately or eventually. The consequences of not listening to God are disastrous. We see them sometimes immediately, when adultery enters the picture into the life of a family. The consequences are immediate and they’re devastating.
Marriages are broken, sometimes jobs are lost, economic impact, kids are unsettled and live with lifelong consequences. Devastating, immediate consequences for not listening to God, who says, you shall not commit adultery. Sometimes those consequences come slowly. When God says, you shall not lie and you live a life of lies, of little lies, to the point where people can no longer trust you. Eventually trust is eroded, and those eventual consequences come as relationships fall apart. We’re actually seeing this today, aren’t we, in the invasion of the Ukraine by Russia? I mean, God has said in Micah six eight, he has shown you, oh man, what is good and what is right, what the Lord requires of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Putin is not doing justice. He’s not loving mercy. He’s not walking humbly. He is acting out of greed and power, and the consequences are disastrous and they will be disastrous for him. Putin is without excuse. Simply you can’t simply say, well, maybe he hasn’t read that passage of scripture. And it’s not simply because Russia has a Christian history, a deep Christian history that somehow has managed to keep hold in a country where Christianity they’ve tried to wipe it out at various times.
It’s not just that. It’s because the Bible tells us in Romans, chapter one, that the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the Godlessness and wickedness of people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them, he said, God who reveals himself. For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power, his divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that people are without excuse. That’s what the Bible says, to neglect to listen to God. There’s no excuse for it. Absolutely none. The Bible says that the very heavens in Psalm 19 declare the glory of God disguise, proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day, they pour forth speech. Night after night, they reveal knowledge. Their voice goes out into all the Earth, their words to the ends of the world. There’s not a person living who can say, Well, God I didn’t know, I didn’t understand. No, every one of us are without excuse before a just and Holy God. And the consequences of not listening to him are disastrous.
Right about now. You’re one of our visitors here.
You’re probably going, wow, this is heavy.
I thought we were coming to celebrate. Right. Like have some barbecue, hopefully the East Carolina kind, the vinegar based. Well, you’re right. It is a celebration. It really is. But what are we celebrating? Right? We are celebrating the giving over of a life Holy to God, not just in part, but Holy to God. And that’s impossible. If Tolman grows up and will not listen to God, that’s impossible. If the parents who pledge to raise him up as the disciple of Jesus, as a follower, as a listener to God, if they will not listen themselves to God, it’s just impossible. So that’s what we’re celebrating today, is this life that’s going to be given over. So if there’s a little bit of heaviness in that, there’s also a lightness that comes from that. For Jesus promises freedom and the benefits of listening to God are immense. So you might say, well, how right? Really, how do we really listen to God in life? I mean, God’s invisible. Jesus lived on this Earth 2000 years ago. He’s not here right now. Well, actually, this passage that was read both explicitly and implicitly tells us in ways that are absolutely clear.
So that as Jesus says, for those who have ears to hear, and that’s always a question, do you do you have ears to hear? Well, let’s see what this text tells us. It’s significant that this account begins about eight days after a speech. That’s what Luke tells us. He says about eight days after Jesus said this. Like said what? Well, this is what Jesus had said to them eight days before. He said, I’m going to die, I’m going to be killed, I’m going to suffer, I’m going to be rejected. It’s going to be the chief priest, it’s going to be the elders, it’s going to be the leaders of Israel who do it. And then he said, you know what? That’s kind of the way it is with those who follow me. If anyone would come after me and wants to be my disciples, they must deny themselves, take up their cross, that instrument of torture and death, and follow me. Whoever wants to save their life will lose it. But whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, he says, and let you lose or forfeit their very self.
Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of man, will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the Holy Angels. Whoever doesn’t want to listen to my words, doesn’t want to bring them out before people, doesn’t want to live by them. So Jesus is saying. He’s saying, this is an all in proposition. This is why baptism is the symbol. It is a life Holy given that I’m here for. And it is life Holy given that I’m here to give. Jesus says, I’m going to die for this. Then he said, Truly, I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Kingdom of God. So about eight days after that, after Jesus said that he took Peter, John and James with him and went up on a mountain to pray. It’s pretty significant. This is what he does with his disciples. He takes them aside. I’m going to lead you in the ways of life, of listening in prayer, of speaking with God and receiving from God. So he takes them for a prayer retreat. It’s so significant, right?
This was Jesus pattern. Jesus was probably the busiest person you could ever imagine. He was the most sought after, most pressed into Jesus, could have worked 24/7 and never been done. But it was his pattern to get away, to pray, to seek the Father. And the Father’s will alone to listen. And that’s the way it is with disciples of Jesus. Is it that way in your life? Does your life ever stop? Do you ever get to the mountaintop to listen? God is speaking. God will speak well. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. The scripture tells us that God dwells in unapproachable light and that light was being infused from the Father into the sun at that moment in such a way that everything is transfigured, even his clothes. It’s dazzling, a dazzling scene. There are many passages in the Scriptures about the light of God being something of literally substance, right? That’s what’s happening. And then it says that two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor talking with Jesus. Now, why these two men? These are two of the Old Testament prophets.
Two of the greatest of the prophets, Moses and Elijah. Some have kind of hypothesized that Moses is the bringer and giver of the law and Elijah is the Prophet of prophets. And Jesus said that you should love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. And on these two Commandments hang all the law and the prophets. And that Jesus said he’d come to fulfill the law and the prophets. So here is the representative of the law and the prophets meeting with Jesus. And that’s the significance of that. But there’s something probably even a little further than that. For God told Moses in Deuteronomy 1818, There is one coming who will be a Prophet like you. And he said that my people must listen to him. Jesus is that Prophet. The greater Moses and Elijah was said to be the forerunner of the Messiah, the bringer of a new age Jews. To this day, when they celebrate the Passover Supper, they leave a place empty. Why? It’s for Elijah. They’re waiting for that profit to come, because after that profit comes, it’s going to be a short time before the Messiah comes.
So Elijah, the forerunner of Christ as it’s prophesied in Malachi. See, I will send the Prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. Elijah is there, Moses is there. And they’re speaking with God or with Jesus. And, well, God.
And people say, well, what were they talking about?
I had an old youth leader, and he said, I think that Moses and Elijah were talking to Jesus and they were saying, don’t mess this up, right? Everything we were about was pointing towards you. And if you mess this up, we’re history. We’re done. There is no Salvation, right? I love that he said that. It’s definitely not right, but I love that he said that. But the Bible tells us they were talking about his departure, which is the Greek word Exodus. If you know what the Exodus is. It’s when Moses led the people out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt into the promised land, that was the Exodus of the people of Israel. Jesus had come to bring a new Exodus. For what? Freedom. Jesus didn’t just come for you and I to go to heaven one day. He came that you and I might have life and have it abundantly, that we might have the Holy Spirit. And the Scriptures say where the Spirit is, there is freedom. I know that. I know that. I know that as I preach this word right now, some of you sitting here, some of you are in bondage.
I just know it. It’s statistically. It’s true, right? Some of you are in bondage. Could be addiction to alcohol. It can be addiction to pornography. That kind of stuff is rampant in the Church. And what I want you to know is rather than judgment from God for that he offers you freedom, that if you are in bondage to any of those things or things, I’m not naming whatever they might be. God has raised up a whole Church that he’s gifted in all kinds of ways, counselors, people who regularly lead people out of bondage, they say, you do not have to remain in bondage. Let me show you how. See, there’s a communal way of listening to God. There’s something that God does when two or three are gathered. And there’s something that God does when he’s gifted certain people for certain things. Don’t stay in bondage because Jesus has come for Exodus to lead you out. So they were talking about his Exodus. What would it cost him? His departure would literally mean he would go to the cross for the sins and the brokenness and the addictions and the bondage of this world. He would die and go down into as it were the Red Sea.
Right? Go down to the depths, but then come through. Rise again to life as he told his disciples. And rise to heaven. So that he might send his Holy Spirit for his Church, his bride. So the two men appear, and they’re talking with Jesus. They appear in glorious splendor. They spoke about his departure. But then it says that Peter and his companions were very sleepy. And this is a picture of us, isn’t it? Of humanity. God offers his glory, his light, his freedom. And we sleep. We fail to hear, to perceive, unless God brings us awake. They spoke about his departure. Peter and his companions were very sleepy. But when they became fully awake. And that, by the way, is a scriptural thing. Arise, Osleeper. Awake from the dead. And Christ will shine on you. The Scriptures tell us. But when they became fully awake, they saw his glory. And the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, Master, it’s good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters. One for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah. Guys, don’t go. Come on.
He did not know what he was saying. What was Peter doing? He’s saying, Well, let’s get religious, right? Let’s build Tabernacles. These Tabernacles are meant to be places of worship. And he’s saying, let’s stay on this mountain forever, right? Let’s be on the mountaintop. Let’s worship you, Jesus and Elijah and Moses. This is a Jewish man’s dream. To be surrounded by these great prophets, right? He did not know what he was saying. Then while he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them. And they were afraid as they entered the cloud. It’s the cloud of the glory of God. The cloud that appeared on Mount Sinai when Moses received the Ten Commandments. The cloud that indwelt the temple of the living God. When it was first built. That cloud that led the children of Israel out of bondage. A cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night. And a voice came from the cloud saying, this is my son, whom I have chosen. Listen to him. When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. All the prophets, all the law. It’s all wrapped up in him. All the world, all the glory that you see.
All the life, all the wisdom, all the beauty, all the truth, everything that is good out there. It’s all wrapped up in Jesus. Listen to him. That’s what we’re told to do. But how? Well, the night before Jesus died, he went to the Father in prayer. And he said, I don’t want to do this. If there’s any way can this cop be taken from me? He said, yeah, not my will, but yours be done. Ultimately, Father, I want to listen to you. I want to give my life for Tolman. I want to give my life for everyone. In this room. I want to give my life for the world. And if that’s what it takes, I’ll do it. Jesus listened to the Father, and he went to the cross. He went through his exodus for you and for me and for Ukraine and Russia and Putin. And ultimately, God didn’t just give us words, right? He gave us the Word. That’s what Jesus is called, the living Word, the Word made flesh. He ultimately came in and said, you won’t listen to my profits. You won’t listen to the nature. Will you listen to my son?
Will you listen to him? So how do we do it? Well, Will and Lily, the ultimate thing that Tolman needs from you is not your provision, it’s not your teaching, it’s not your feeding him and all those things. He needs those things. So keep doing them. And those things will help him grow strong. He doesn’t need the best schools. He doesn’t need every advantage that you’re going to naturally want to give him. You know what he needs from you? He needs you to be listeners listening to Jesus. He needs to be able to confidently look at his parents and go, they know God. They know him, because that’s how he’s going to become himself a listener as he sees you doing it. And the way we all do it is that we become deliberate with ourselves. We get away, right? We pause in our life. If your lives are busy, I know your lives are busy. My life is busy every morning, right? Every morning. Just take that time to be with God and say, Speak, Lord, your servant is listening. Open up a notebook. I mean, read the Scriptures and then say, Is there one thing that I can write down today as a prayer, as an instruction?
Writing is so important. So when I go to the grocery store, if my wife says, Will you pick up two things? I don’t have to write them down. I’ll remember those two things. If she says three things, I need to create a song about those three things to remember them, like get the oat milk and the peanut butter. And don’t forget the what was it? Bread? Yeah. Hopefully I can remember it that way. And we can remember the word of God by singing it. But writing it down. If the list gets to be four or five or six things, I got to write it down or I am forgetting something. Right? We’re called to read, Mark and inwardly digest the Word of God. It’s a good thing when people open up their notebooks in a sermon and they write down something so they don’t forget to actually listen to it by living it, learn to cultivate a posture of listening. For Jesus said, Blessed are the ones who hear the Word, receive it, and produce a crop as they take it in. It actually makes a difference, and it actually has an impact outside of their lives.
That’s what he’s calling you to do.
And guess what? That’s what the world’s waiting for. That’s what all creation is yearning for is for a Church, not just that worships God, right? He didn’t say to Peter, James and John. This is my son. Worship him a Church that listens and lives it out in the world. That’s what Baptism is all about. A life and lives in a Church that is wholly given over to God. Are you listening? Are you listening? All right, I like to hear that. Amen. Let’s pray, father, open up our stopped up ears. Wake up our sleepy lives and let us be a people who Holy listen to you who live out your word in every possible way. Who listen to what your scriptures have to say about our lives lives about the world around us. About how to return glory to you, Lord in every possible way. We pray that you would do that in us in Jesus name. Amen. Amen.