The Transfiguration of Our Lord
“Spattered in Blood”
February 26, 2017
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Quite a contrast we have before us this morning. Actually several contrasts that we would do well to consider and take to heart under the gracious guidance of God the Holy Spirit.
Probably though, it would first be good to do what is sometimes done at the beginning of television shows where it is announced that “viewer discretion” is called for because of the graphic nature of what will be shown.
We read in our Exodus text, “And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you.” (Exodus 24:8)
Blood dripping down the clothes of the men, women and children gathered there. Doesn’t get more graphic than that. The people of Israel spattered in blood… the blood of the sacrifice made at the base of Mount Sinai. That, indeed, was how a covenant was made, enacted and sealed. It was literally “sealed in blood”… in the shedding of blood.
Holy Scripture makes it perfectly clear, “without shedding of blood there is no remission” … no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22 NKJ) Put another way… when it comes to our salvation there is no getting around the spilling and spattering of blood. Blood is critical to life… both physical and spiritual… both temporal and eternal.
In the verses just prior to our text, we are told that Moses first took half the sacrificial blood and poured it into the basins and then sprinkled the other half on the altar. Then from the basins, he took the blood and threw it on the people. Blood, blood, blood… everywhere.
All that the children of Israel needed to do is look at the blood of the sacrifice… in the basins, on the altar and on themselves… and be reminded of the divine covenant that the Lord their God had graciously and mercifully made with them… that He would be their God and they would be His people… that He would see them safely to the Promised Land and all this after He had saved them, after He had rescued them mightily from the oppressive hand of Pharaoh.
Quite a sight it was and then… Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and seventy of the elders go up the mountain… up Sinai to a given point where they have the great privilege of seeing God in all His glory. Our text says, “They beheld God, and ate and drank” in His presence. (Exodus 24:11b) What a sight that must have been. What an experience!
Contrast this… compare this… all of this… to what we are given the privilege of seeing now again this morning through the eyes of the Apostles there present… what took place on yet another mountain hundreds of years and hundreds of miles apart from the first. From Mount Sinai, we have moved to what is commonly known as the “Mount of Transfiguration.”
It is similarly an awesome sight, glorious and divine… that which is no fable or fabrication, for it is Peter who declares, “we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we 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, for we were with him on the holy mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16-18)
As was said of Moses, Nadab, Abihu and the elders is also true of Peter, James and John. They too beheld God, the very Son of God there transfigured, there now appearing in all of His glory. That which Christ our Lord kept hidden in His manhood… in His flesh… our human flesh… as He carried out His saving mission here on earth.
Indeed… Peter, James and John heard with their own ears the words of God the Father as He declared, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5)
Pleased in what His Son was doing which soon would come to an end… soon to be accomplished… soon to be effected… soon to be finished… once… for all!
Not there, mind you. Not then on that mountain, but rather on yet another mount we know as Calvary.
No… not with Christ in full glory and in His eternal state of exaltation, but rather Christ in full degradation and humiliation. With Jesus, our Savior, on the cross… stricken, smitten and afflicted… spattered not with the blood of oxen, but rather with His own blood running down his head and face from the crown of thorns placed on His head.
His own blood running down His back where He had been mercilessly whipped… scourged.
His own blood pouring from His side from the thrust of the soldiers spear.
Again… viewer discretion is called for, but may we all… to a person, maybe as never before… take it all in… take it truly to heart and mind.
How fast the glorious nature of the scene that is ours on this Transfiguration Sunday will turn all too graphic and gory on Good Friday.
What amazing contrasts and connections here. And there are more. Look for yourselves my friends what is before you. Contrast the altar at the base of Mt. Sinai to the one you see before you. There is no blood of a fresh sacrifice on this altar. None is needed. Ever again.
There are no basins filled with blood here. Just a flagon filled with wine, a container of bread, a cup and a serving plate. For amazingly, as was the case on Mt. Sinai, so now… we eat and drink in the presence of God and far more than that… for we eat and drink the very body and blood of the Son of God as simple wine and unleavened bread are turned into the same by the all-powerful Word of God.
Take it all in… please this day. The glorious sight before you today. And take it all in as to where our Lord goes from here as He steadfastly makes His way to Jerusalem and to the cross. It is the valley of death that Christ enters where He there defeats death, sin and Satan… for us.
Take it all in… how all of this ends… for you, me and all believers. It ends in glory the likes of which we can only imagine and have done so today, taking in our dear transfigured Lord and Savior there on that mountain. What a sight… that which is our future guaranteed by… of all things… blood… holy and most sacred. Amen.
“Spattered in Blood”
2/26/17 The Rev. Mark H. Hein
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL