06 March 2011

Transfigured by the Cross of Christ

At the top of the Mountain is life with God: to eat and drink, to rest, and to live in His presence — in peace.

But where you find yourself is far removed and far below Him. Not only that, but you are afraid of God and of His Glory. You’re afraid to get close to Him, even if you could.

For the Law with its demands and punishments, its accusations and condemnations, is like a consuming fire that threatens to destroy you — and it would. Not because the Law is evil; indeed, it is God’s Law, His holy will, and it is good and wise. But it terrifies and threatens to consume you, because you are sinful and unclean; you are not good and wise, but foolish and mortal.

Under those prevailing circumstances, appearances are deceiving, misleading and frightening.

The Law cannot save you from this predicament. It cannot save you from yourself, from your sin and death. But it does aim at your life and salvation, at your life with God in faith and love. It aims at that, and points to that, and leads to that in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God.

On the one hand, the Law sacrifices Him and sheds His blood for your atonement, redemption and rescue (your Exodus), in order to forgive you, and to establish and seal His Covenant with you.

And on the other hand, the very life of faith and love which the Law calls for and requires, is realized and fulfilled in the same Lord Jesus Christ. So He is the One who brings you into that life, as He has opened the way for you in Himself: in His Incarnation, by His Life and Ministry, from His Baptism in the Jordan River to His Cross and Resurrection.

He is the One who brings you up the Mountain to God, as your great and merciful High Priest, in His own Body of flesh and blood. In Him, your entire human nature is transfigured with the very glory of God; so that your life is not simply with God, in His presence, but your life is hidden with Christ in God, in personal communion with Him.

You are transfigured in and with Him, in His Body, in His Person, by the way of His Cross and in His Resurrection from the dead. His Cross and Passion are the pinnacle of perfect faith and love. His sacrificial death is atonement, redemption and reconciliation with God.

For He grapples with all the curse and consequence of sin and death in His own Body on the Cross, and He heals all those ills, all those hurts and scars, all those frailties and weaknesses, all those griefs and sorrows, and sickness unto death; so that, in His Resurrection, your human body is raised and made brand new and glorified (like unto His own glorious body).

So also your heart and mind, your soul and spirit, your thoughts and feelings and emotions are healed and made whole.

Though it does not yet appear what you shall be, already it is true for you in Him — hidden under the Cross.

There are no short cuts.

The Apostles are not even to speak of the glorious vision until after the Cross and Resurrection are accomplished; because the Glory of the Transfiguration is the Glory of the Cross, which is manifested in the Resurrection — and manifested in the preaching of the Gospel (of the Cross).

So, too, the transfiguration of your body, and of your whole human nature — in and with Christ Jesus — occurs by the ways and means of His Cross. It happens by the preaching of the Cross, unto repentance and forgiveness of sins, and it is given to you in the fruits of the Cross, which you are given to eat and to drink.

It is for the Cross — for you and your salvation, in love — that the Lord Jesus has come down from the Mountain. And really, in Him, the Mountain Top has come down to you. The Cloud of the Majestic Glory of God rests upon the flesh and blood of Christ Jesus, even unto His death upon the Cross. For He is the Ark of the New Testament; He is the Mercy Seat; He is the Holy of Holies; and He has come down to tabernacle here with you.

Listen to Him.

Hear and receive His Gospel, His forgiveness, His peace.

See how He stretches out His hand and lays it upon you, not to punish and destroy you, but to comfort, to heal, to raise you up and serve you in mercy.

You do ascend the Mountain of God with Christ Jesus, and in the Resurrection you also are transfigured. But already here and now, the Glory of God dwells with you. By His grace, He is here with you to save you, and His flesh and blood bind you and seal you unto God.

His Blood of the New Testament satisfies the Law of God and sanctifies you. It makes satisfaction for your sins of thought, word and deed, and it transfigures and transforms your heart and mind, your words and actions, your body, your lips, your hands and feet.

So that, even under the Cross, and actually by the Cross, the Glory of God is manifested in you: in the forgiveness of all your sins, and in your salvation by God’s grace through the Gospel; and in your faith and love, in your forgiveness of those who trespass against you, and in your self-sacrificing service for others.

Thus are you beautiful with the true beauty of Christ, and in Him you are the most handsome of men.

Such a life is not a mountain top far beyond your reach, but it is already hidden with Christ in God, while it has also come down and drawn near to you here at the bottom of the mountain, down in the valley so low.

It is where the Altar stands among the people of God, and where His Church stands firmly and rests upon the twelve pillars of the Lord’s holy Apostles (the eyewitnesses of His Salvation).

You live in the presence of God, therefore, because God has come to live with you in His own flesh. In Him you have perfect peace and Sabbath rest, because He has reconciled you to Himself, and to His Father by His Spirit through the Gospel.

Daily and richly He does so with His free and full forgiveness.

In Him — in His Cross — in His Word — and in His Ministry of the Gospel, you behold God through the eyes of faith; you recognize the glorious goodness of His grace; and you eat and drink — not only “with Him,” in His presence, and not only food and drink that He provides — but you eat and drink the incarnate God, and He makes His tabernacle in you (yes, even you; precisely you, with all your warts and all).

For where is it that Peter, James and John eat and drink?

Not high upon the mountain away from all the others, but in the Upper Room of the Church, in the Passover of the New Testament, in the gathered assembly of the disciples, and here also with you.

Here all the Law and the Prophets are fulfilled in Christ Jesus, and they are made sure and certain for you in the preaching of His Gospel.

Here the Morning Star now rises in your heart and mind, in your body, soul and spirit, by His gracious forgiveness of all your sins, and by His free gift of Himself, His life and His salvation.

So that you also shine like the stars with His righteousness, innocence and blessedness, as you live with Him in His Resurrection from the dead, forever and ever. Amen.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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