Transfiguration Sunday (A)
II Peter 1:16-21
February 23, 2020
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The text that I have chosen for this morning’s sermon is the Epistle, which was read a few minutes ago.
Are you familiar with the term “fake news”? While I don’t know who originated the term, I know President Trump uses it frequently. Fake news is information that’s perceived to be, at least a little bit, dishonest. Some accuse CNN’s of being fake news, others accuse Fox News of being the same thing. The Democrats skew the story their way, the Republicans skew it theirs. It’s just the way it is because everyone has a bias, and what they believe is their own truth, which make it hard for us to know what the real truth is. It’s not uncommon anymore for the Bible to be accused of being fake news. It’s supposedly inaccurate, written to people who are long gone, or no longer applicable. Are any of these accusations credible? Not at all! In every possible way, the Bible, as God’s Word, is absolutely true and therefore it’s the one book upon which we can completely trust.
And we need something we can trust, don’t we? There’s so much fiction in our world it can be hard to know who’s telling the truth. Which presidential candidate is telling us everything? Is the salesman giving me the best deal? Is my romantic partner holding something back? Do the kids at school like me or are they faking it? Is my doctor hiding something about my diagnosis? We need something we can rely on, something that we don’t ever have to doubt, and we find it in God’s Word. The Bible is claimed by some to be fables and myths, tall tales told to impressionable and naïve minds to keep them under control. What they don’t believe is that these accounts are being told by eyewitnesses who heard and saw everything.
Peter says, “We (Peter, James, and John) were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven.” The men and women we read about in the Bible, the ones who took Christ’s message into a lie-filled world, either witnessed what they were talking about or heard it from those who had seen it. Thomas saw Jesus walking on the water, John stood in the empty tomb, Matthew saw Jesus heal the blind. Mary spoke to the Risen Lord. All these eyewitnesses were telling the truth of what they saw and heard. We know they’re telling the truth because Peter, Bartholomew, Matthew and the rest would’ve renounced their lies under torture and death, but they didn’t. They clung to the truth of Christ until their dying breath.
When it comes to picking a text for a sermon, we pastors tend to avoid the Old Testament. It’s hard to preach on and sometimes the prophesies are a little confusing, and yet, there’s much in the Old Testament that we should know. There’s something like three hundred prophesies about the Savior in the Old Testament and Jesus fulfilled every single one of them. Saint Luke tells us that on the first Easter afternoon Jesus meets up with some grieving men, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Jesus told them that the Old Testament was true, all of it! Peter puts it this way, “We have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place.” In other words, everything we hear about the Savior in the Old Testament, they’ve seen firsthand.
But is this just a matter of coincidence? Surely other baby boys were born in Bethlehem just as there were other condemned men who didn’t defend themselves and were crucified. Statistically speaking, no man other than Jesus could possibly have fulfilled all the prophesies, but that’s not really the point. The prophets were speaking God’s Word just as much as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were. King David spoke God’s truth just like Paul. Peter says, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The entire Bible, from its first sentence of “In the beginning” to its last “Amen”, was inspired by God. It’s His Word and His Word alone.
In this day when people can make up their own truth, even if it is a lie or mistake, it’s even more important to understand that God’s Truth trumps everything else. You can’t sit in judgment over God’s Word and don’t you dare tell God He’s made a mistake or that He needs to get with the times. God’s Truth is unchanging despite the efforts of sinful humans to change it. In the book of Ezekiel God sends Ezekiel to tell all the lying prophets that they’re going to face His anger because of their sin. They claim to have a message from God, but they’re lying and by doing so they’re endangering God’s people. They were speaking a message that people wanted to hear, but it wasn’t the truth! Sound familiar? People are twisting God’s Word so He says what they want it to say.
We’ve talked about this before, and I know some of you disagree with the Church’s stance, but it bears repeating that God’s intentions for marriage, for life, for sex, for alcohol, for whatever, will always be the Truth, and it doesn’t matter what we think about it. As God told Job, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.” God says what He means and what He inspired the authors of the Bible to write, they wrote, and it cannot be changed. As Peter says in his first letter, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.”
While many Christians believe that the Bible needs to be changed to keep up with their changing attitudes and with society’s progress, it’s a good thing that it doesn’t change. Think about it. If people are allowed to change the meaning of the Bible, then God should be allowed to do that as well, right? And if God changes the meaning, what makes us think it’s going to be good for us? It’s out of His grace that God doesn’t change His Word. We don’t have to worry that when we die, God’s going to change the rules. We don’t have to worry about discovering our faith in God was misplaced. Instead, we can rely on God’s Truth that Jesus, who is unlike any other, is our Lord and Savior.
The history books are filled with great men and women and imagine what our world would be like without Martin Luther, George Washington, Rosa Parks, or Martin Luther King, Jr? It would be a far different world, wouldn’t it? What would the world be like though, without Jesus? No other man displays power like He did in His Transfiguration. No other man could do the great works recorded in the Gospels. No other man uses his power for our good the way Jesus does. His power saves us and sustains us. His power is seen clearly within in the pages of the Bible, and it’s there that we find the truth of our salvation. If God’s Word isn’t true or if it can be changed, none of you can be sure that your sins are forgiven or that you’re loved by God. Where’s the comfort in that? What good is a promise when it’s a lie? Lies don’t save; God in His Word does!
This means that when God’s Word tells you that Jesus suffered for the sins of the world and that those sins are forgiven, it’s true! Your sins are forgiven! Jesus, whom the Bible tells us was seen by five hundred people at one time after His resurrection, is alive for you! Jesus who spoke forgiving words to Peter, speaks them to you! Jesus who turned hateful Paul into a great missionary, does the same for you. Jesus, who told the thief on the cross, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”, promises you the same Paradise! Jesus is God’s Word who came alive for you and that’s God’s honest truth!
As your pastor I’m blessed to tell you so much about God, His Son, His love, your forgiveness, the glory of Heaven, and none of it is fake news! This is Good News! In every possibly way the Bible is the Truth and you can bet your entire life on it. The Bible doesn’t change, it doesn’t go out of date, it’s doesn’t lose touch with the times, and it’s not something we can rewrite because we don’t like something God says. Instead, we trust that it’s God’s Truth because that means our forgiveness and God’s love are also the truth, and God’s Truth is the one thing in this entire world that we can trust no matter what other fake news is all around us.
Now the peace which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen