Ninth Sunday (or Last Sunday) after the Epiphany (Transfiguration of the Lord) – Exodus 24:12-18; Psalm 2 (or Psalm 99, suggested as an alternative for Ninth Sunday); 2 Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 17:1-9
May our words point to Jesus Christ, the living Word of God.
Moses was alone with the Lord - receiving the Word of the Lord (Exodus 24:1-2). Moses went to the people - speaking the Word of the Lord (Exodus 24:3). There was also a written ministry of the Word (Exodus 24:4). At the heart of our worship, there is ‘the blood of the covenant’ (Exodus 24:8; 12:13; John 1:29; Hebrews 9:22; 10:4; 9:13-14; 1 John 1:7). Moses worshipped on ‘the mountain of God’ (Exodus 24:12-18). We worship ‘in spirit and truth’ (John 4:19-24). We come to the Father through Christ and in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:18). We come on the basis of Christ’s blood shed for us (Hebrews 10:19-22). We come as those to whom the Spirit has been given (John 1:33; 3:34). With ‘the Spirit of God’ living in us and helping us as we pray, let us feast on Christ, the Truth, the living Word, to whom the written and spoken words point us (Romans 8:9,26; John 14:6; 1:1,14; 17:17).
May our words point to Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
In the second Psalm, we read of a conflict. On the one side, there is ‘the Lord and His Anointed’ (Psalm 2:2). On the other there are those who ‘conspire and ...plot’ (Psalm 2:1). The conspiracies and plots of men will come to nothing. The saving purpose of God will be fulfilled. This purpose will be accomplished in Christ, the One to whom God says, ‘You are My Son’ (Psalm 2:7), the One to whom God says, ‘I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession’ (Psalm 2:8). God calls us to worship Christ - ‘Kiss the Son’ (Psalm 2:12). This call to worship Christ is accompanied by a warning against judgment and a promise of salvation. As sinners, we are under God’s judgment. Trusting in Christ, we are saved (Psalm 2:12; John 3:36). We are to take delight in Christ. This is the thought conveyed by the phrase, ‘Kiss the Son’. We delight in God’s Son, and we delight in God’s Word which leads us to Him.
May our words be full of joyful worship.
‘Exalt the Lord our God... Make a joyful noise to the Lord’ (Psalms 99:5, 9; 98:4,6; 100:1). We are to worship the Lord with joy. We are to glorify God. We are to enjoy Him. In our worship, we must never forget the holiness of God: ‘He is holy!... The Lord our God is holy!’ (Psalm 99:5, 9). In our worship, we rejoice in the love of God: ‘His steadfast love endures for ever... He has done marvellous things!’ (Psalms 100:5; 98:1). The God of ‘awesome purity’ loves us with the most perfect love of all: ‘No earthly father loves like Thee...’ Let us worship Him with holy fear and heartfelt love: ‘O how I fear Thee, living God, with deepest, tenderest fears... with trembling hope and penitential tears! Yet I may love Thee too, O Lord, Almighty as Thou art, for Thou hast stooped to ask of me the love of my poor heart’(Church Hymnary, 356).
May our words be full of heartfelt thanksgiving.
God ‘has given us His very great and precious promises’ (2 Peter 1:4). God has a great purpose for us. He is preparing for us ‘a rich welcome into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 1:11). The pathway to heavenly and eternal glory is not an easy one. Often, we will be tempted to settle for being ‘ineffective and unproductive in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ’. There will be many distractions, drawing our attention away from Christ. We must keep our eyes on Him if we are not to become ‘blind and short-sighted’. We can so easily forget the most important thing - we have been ‘cleansed from our old sins’. It is so important that we keep looking to Christ, remembering what He has done for us and giving thanks to Him (2 Peter 1:8-9). ‘The Lord’ will not fail us in our ‘trials’ (2 Peter 2:9). Let’s not fail Him!
May our words be full of divine glory.
There will come a time when the glory of God will be fully revealed - ‘the Son of man is going to come in His Father's glory’ (Matthew 16:27). Here on earth, there are ‘foretastes of glory divine’: Matthew 16:28 may be understood in connection with the transfiguration (Matthew 17:2) - the divine glory of heaven breaking through into our human life on earth. Revelations of glory prepared these men for discipleship. They turned their eyes upon Jesus (Matthew 17:8). They looked full in His wonderful face (Matthew 17:2). The things of earth grew strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace (Mission Praise, 59,712) - ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here’ (Matthew 17:4). The ‘mountain top’ experience could not be preserved - no ‘three shelters’ (Matthew 17:4)! We can continue to worship, hear Jesus’ words and look to Him (Matthew 17:6-8), rejoicing in His suffering for us (Matthew 17:12) and awaiting His return to ‘restore all things’ (Matthew 17:11).