There and Back Again: The Savior’s Journey: Transfiguration

April 7, 2019 ()

Bible Text: Luke 9:28-36 |


The Savior’s Journey: Transfiguration | Luke 9:28-36
Brian Hedges | April 7, 2019

Turn in your Bibles this morning to the gospel according to Luke. We’re going to be in Luke 9:28-36.

Most of you probably know that I have four children, and we love The Chronicles of Narnia in our household. If you’ve been here for any amount of time you know that. We also like The Hobbit, as you can tell from the title for the series, “There and Back Again.” I’ve been reading The Chronicles of Narnia to my youngest daughter, Abby. She’s six years old. We were reading in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe here a few weeks ago, and as that story progresses there are just hints of Aslan before he actually comes on the scene, and of course everybody knows the statement that the Beavers make to the children when they ask, “Is he safe?” They say, “Of course he’s not safe, but he’s good.”

So Abby’s processing this, six years old, and I asked her one night, “What do you think about Aslan? Would you like to meet Aslan?” Trying to get a sense of how she was processing this.

She said, “Well, I wouldn’t want him to scratch me, and I wouldn’t want him to bite me, but he sounds kind of nice.”

Now, the interesting thing for Abby is that she doesn’t know yet that Aslan is a Christ figure, and she’s experiencing these stories exactly the way a child should experience them; she’s being trained emotionally, as good literature does this for us, it trains us emotionally how to respond to reality.

I think Abby’s experience with Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia is very much what the disciples’ experience with Jesus was like in the gospels. When you read the gospels, they are just gradually beginning to understand who Jesus is and what he’s like. There are moments where they come up against his majesty, they come up against his glory, they see his power. They’re in a boat, there’s a terrible storm, and then Jesus speaks and the winds and the waves completely die down and come to a complete standstill, and they’re more afraid, because they’re asking, “Who is this man, that even the wind and waves obey him?”

That experience was especially true of three disciples, Peter, James, and John, in what happens in Luke 9. This morning we’re looking at the transfiguration of Jesus. So this series is about the journey of Jesus, the Savior’s journey, to the cross and then beyond, to the resurrection and ascension, and we’re just taking our steps through the gospel of Luke, trying to look at some of these climactic moments in the life of Jesus, leading us up to Easter Sunday. This morning, the transfiguration, Luke 9:28-36. Let’s read the text.

“Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!’ And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.”

This is God’s word.

So this passage has one point with three reasons enforcing the point. So here’s the point, in verse 35: the point is, listen to Jesus! That’s the one command in the passage; it’s the one thing that the passage tells us to do, the voice told the disciples to do, “Listen to him,” “Listen to Jesus.” So that’s pretty obviously the main point of the passage for us. Listen to Jesus.

But it gives us reasons for listening to Jesus, and I want you to see three of them here in the passage. Listen to Jesus because of:

I. The Splendor of His Glory
II. The Supremacy of His Word
III. The Sufficiency of His Work

All three of those things are right there in the text, so I want you to follow along in your Bible or on the screen as we work through these things.

I. The Splendor of His Glory

First of all, listen to Jesus because of the splendor of his glory. This passage is one of those places in the gospel narratives where the glory and the majesty, the resplendent radiance of Jesus Christ in his glorious nature shines through. It wasn’t always shining through as it is here. Jesus looked like an ordinary man and he had a real, genuine, human nature, as we saw last week, as we studied the temptation of our Lord. He was truly man, but he was also truly God. He was the word who became flesh and, as the apostle John says in that passage (John 1:14), “The word became flesh and we beheld his glory.” One of the times when they beheld his glory shining through, his divine nature shining through his human nature, was right here in the transfiguration.

You see in verses 29 and 30, as he was praying. Jesus is praying, and while he’s praying the appearance of his face was altered and his clothing became dazzling white, and then these two figures with him, Moses and Elijah. We’ll come back to them in a moment.

The other gospel narratives, recording the same story, use slightly different language. Mark 9 says, “He was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them.” So think of luminosity in his garments.

But the reason why his clothes were luminous is because Jesus himself was radiating this light. Matthew 17:2 says, “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.”

Have you ever been in a lightning storm, where the lightning was so bright - it may be the middle of the night, but the lightning is so bright that it lights up the whole sky? That’s what this was like, but the lightning was coming from Jesus! The light was coming from Jesus. He was absolutely radiant with the glory of God. He is the source of this radiant light, this radiant glory, and the accoutrements of glory are all over this passage, language that any Jewish reader would be familiar with, language from the Old Testament.

There’s a cloud, and you remember the glory cloud of the Old Testament? The glory of God would come as a cloud and it filled the tabernacle in Exodus 40, after Moses had built the tabernacle, and it filled the temple after Solomon had built the temple, this glory cloud. In fact, the glory of God rested on the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies; that’s where the shekinah glory of God was.

You remember the experience that the Old Testament saints had when they saw the glory of God. When God first appeared in this theophany on Mount Sinai and the children of Israel saw the lightning and they heard the thunder, do you remember what they said? They said, “Moses, you speak to him, but don’t let him speak to us!” They were absolutely terrified of the glory of God.

When Isaiah sees the glory of the Lord filling the temple in Isaiah 6, he says, “Woe is me, for I am undone, for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” When they see the glory of God, they cover their faces, they hold up their hands, they say, “I can’t bear the sight,” because the glory of God is his radiant holiness.

Moses, perhaps, prayed the most daring prayer in all of Scripture, and I think that prayer is somewhat the backdrop to this story. In Exodus 33, Moses actually said, “Lord, show me your glory.” Do you remember what the Lord said? He said, “Moses, nobody can see my face and live. Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll put you on the rock, in a cleft in the rock, a little crevice in the rock, and I’ll cover you with my hand, and I’ll just pass by, and I’ll declare my name.”

And the Lord did that in Exodus 34. He declared the name of the Lord, this string of attributes describing who God is. Moses just sees the afterglow. He just sees the hind parts, the back parts; he sees the train of God’s glory. Not his face, but he sees the Lord passing by. Well, now here Moses is on the mountain with Peter, James, and John, and they see the glory of God in the incarnate humanity of Jesus Christ.

Now this is really important for us to grasp, for two reasons. Here’s application for point number one. Listen to Jesus because of the splendor of his glory, and two application points.

(1) Number one, this shows us the utter uniqueness of Jesus Christ. Whatever Jesus was, whoever Jesus was, he was not merely a good teacher. He was not merely a prophet, and a passage like this shows us that he wasn’t merely a prophet. He is the radiant glory of God! He is the glory of God incarnate.

Jesus is unlike all of the other religious leaders of the world, who would say, “This is the way; walk in it.” Jesus says, “I am the way; come through me.” The other prophets point and say, “This is truth; look at this.” Jesus points to himself; he’s self-referential. He points to himself and says, “Look at me.”

Jesus is not merely a prophet. He’s more than a prophet, and that means that we have to wrestle with this person of Jesus Christ. This is the famous trilemma of C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, and others: he is either the Lord of glory, or he’s a liar and the whole thing was a farce, or he was crazy and made claims to be God when he wasn’t.

N.T. Wright puts it this way: “How can you live with the terrifying thought that the hurricane has become human, that the fire has become flesh, that life itself came to life and walked in our midst. Christianity either means that or it means nothing. It is either the more devastating disclosure of the deepest reality of the world, or it’s a sham, a nonsense, a bit of deceitful play-acting.”

This morning, if you’re not a Christian, this is what you have to wrestle with. You have to wrestle with the person of Jesus Christ. Who is Jesus? He’s either God or he was a false prophet, a false teacher, a lunatic, a madman, somebody absolutely crazy, out of his mind. What he wasn’t is merely a good teacher pointing us to something else. He’s far too self-referential for that, and he’s far too glorious for that when you read this story.

(2) So, the utter uniqueness of Jesus Christ, and then here’s the other thing. When you see these theophanies, when you see these manifestations of the glory of God, when the saints saw it in Scripture, it’s true that they shrank away from it; and yet I think there was also an attraction to it. Why else would Moses have said, “Lord, show me your glory”?

The reason there’s this irresistible attraction to it is because this is what we’re made for. This is what you’re made for. The church father Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God.” “The life of man is the vision of God”! To see God, that’s to live. That’s where real life is. To behold the glory of God; that’s where our deepest soul satisfaction comes from.

This is what you need. You’re hungry for something, I know you are, all of us are; we’re hungry for life and for joy and for satisfaction. If you’re like me (and I think you are, I think we’re all like this), we have this tendency to move from one experience to the next, from one thing to the next, and we’re trying to fill this cavernous vacuum in our hearts with some object, with some thing or with some experience; and nothing satisfies until you meet Jesus Christ. When you meet Jesus Christ, then you’re utterly transformed. The glory of God is man fully alive. Do you want to be fully alive? Behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and the life of man is the vision of God.

The hymnwriter Thomas Binney captures this dynamic in these words:

“Eternal light, eternal light,
How pure the soul must be
When placed within your searching sight
It does not fear, but with delight
Can face such majesty.”

That’s what we want, to delightfully face the majesty of God. But then here’s the problem:

“The spirits who surround your throne
May bear that burning bliss,
But that is surely theirs alone,
Since they have never, never known
A fallen world like this.”

How can we bear the burning bliss of the glorious, radiant majesty of God when we’re sinners? Well, hang on tight, because by the end of the passage we’re going to find out how. Listen to Jesus because of the splendor of his glory.

II. The Supremacy of His Word

Number two, listen to Jesus because of the supremacy of his word. The supremacy of his word. What I want you to see here is the significance of Moses and Elijah appearing there on the mountain with Jesus, and then this whole episode that follows as Peter and the disciples see this, and then Peter makes this terrible blunder.

We have to ask, why are Moses and Elijah on the mountain? Why them? The traditional answer, which I think is close to right, is that they represent the law and the prophets. Moses was the giver of the law, Elijah was one of the greatest of the prophets; I think that’s true. Maybe a little bit too tidy, and maybe not quite getting exactly what’s going on here.

There are certain common features of Moses and Elijah that any Jewish reader would have understood. Both Moses and Elijah had encountered God on the mountain, Moses on Mount Sinai, Elijah on the same mountain (called Mount Horeb in the 1 Kings narratives).

Both of them had very mysterious endings. Moses died without going to the promised land, but what buried in a grave that only God knew. So God evidently, somehow, personally disposed of the body of Moses. Elijah bypassed death altogether, was taken to heaven in a whirlwind, in a chariot of fire.

Both of them were what theologically we would call eschatological figures; that is, end-time figures. In Jewish expectation, they would think about the end times, and they thought that there would be (and they had good reason for this) another prophet like Moses would would come (Deuteronomy 18:15). And they thought there would be another Elijah figure who would come, who would be the herald of the day of the Lord.

In fact, the only other passage in Scripture, apart from the transfiguration narratives that put Moses and Elijah together, are the last three verses of the Old Testament, Malachi 4:4-6. It is this expectation. This is how the Old Testament ends! The book ends with a reference to Moses, remember Moses and look for Elijah. And now here Jesus appears on the scene, 400 years later. There’s been no word from God for 400 years, absolute silence, the canon is closed, the Jews are waiting, they’re living in exile, and here Jesus appears on the mountain with Moses and Elijah, and it’s saying that Jesus is the fulfillment, Jesus is the one who’s bringing in the kingdom of God!

That’s what’s going on. And Peter completely misreads it. Look at what he says, verse 33. “As the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master,’” in one of the other narratives it says “Rabbi,” “‘it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents [or tabernacles], one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah,’ not knowing what he said.” You can always trust Peter. It’s like, “Open mouth, insert foot.” Every time Peter speaks, it seems, he’s boldly - at least half the time - saying the wrong thing.

Verse 34, “And as he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid.” They were terrified as they entered the cloud. “And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my chosen one; listen to him.’”

Here they’ve seen the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, they’ve seen Moses and Elijah, and Peter makes the mistake of wanting to equate Jesus with Moses and Elijah; that’s part of the problem. Three tabernacles, equal glory for these three figures, and they’re not equal figures. So Moses and Elijah go off the scene, Jesus alone is left.

Perhaps another part of Peter’s problem is that he’s wanting to preserve the mountaintop experience, and this is not an experience to be preserved. This is a preview of coming glory, but the cross still lies ahead. So the voice from heaven, God the Father - one of only three times that God the Father speaks audibly in the life of Jesus Christ. The first time is in his baptism, the second time is here, the third time in John 12, the week before his death. And the Father says, “This is my Son, my chosen one; listen to him.”

Look at their response in verse 36. “And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.”

It reminds me that the great Welsh preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones said that the real test of whether the Spirit had worked in the message was when people got quiet. He especially thought that in Baptist churches, where people tended to “Amen” a lot. He thought it was a good sign when they quit amen-ing and they started listening, because the right response to the gospel is to put our hands on our mouths and be silent. Here they have encountered the glory of God in Jesus Christ, and they are silent.

Now, why have I worded this “the supremacy of Jesus’ word”? Well, because the Father says, “This is my Son, my chosen one; listen to him.” Not Moses, not Elijah, ultimately, but, “Listen to him,” because Jesus is the final revelation of God the Father. He is the final word. All the other revelation pointed to Jesus. Hebrews 1:1-2, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.”

I think the implication for us is this, that when we read Scripture, we always have to read Scripture with our eyes peeled for Jesus. We read Scripture through the Jesus lens. The prophets pointed to Jesus, the law pointed to Jesus, the law is fulfilled in Jesus; it’s all fulfilled and brought to completion in Jesus! Jesus is the fullest revelation of God. That doesn’t mean we pit Jesus against the rest of Scripture, but it means that we read Scripture backwards. We read Scripture through the lens of Jesus. The New Testament interprets the Old for us, and it reminds us that the Scriptures are all about Jesus! Jesus is the point.

You remember how Jesus, in John 5, is speaking to a lot of Bible scholars, and he says, “You search the Scriptures, for you think that in them you have eternal life. They testify to me, and you will not come to me, that you might have life.”

Listen, Christian. It is possible to know a lot about the Bible and not know Jesus! In your reading of the Bible, look for Jesus. The Scriptures testify to him. Luke 24, Jesus taught his disciples, after his resurrection, how everything in the law and the prophets and the writings testified to him and pointed to him, and that’s why we want every message, every lesson, every class, every small group Bible study - it all needs to center on Jesus, it needs to point to Jesus.

Listen to how the Reformer John Calvin said it. He said, “This voice [the voice from heaven] was recalling the church to its unique teacher, Christ, that it might hang on his lips alone. For although Christ came to affirm the faith of the law and the prophets, yet he occupied the highest position to such a degree that he absorbed in the brightness of his gospel those sparks which glimmered in the Old Testament.”

I love the imagery there. I think that’s exactly right. You have sparks of glory in the Old Testament, but the full outshining, the bright, burning sun of the glory of God is revealed in Jesus Christ. He’s the point! He’s the reason! And therefore we listen to him, because he is the supreme and the final revelation of God the Father.

III. The Sufficiency of His Work

Listen to Jesus because of the supremacy of his word, because of the splendor of his glory, and then number three and finally, because of the sufficiency of his work. You might ask, “Well, where is there anything about the work of Jesus in this passage?”

The answer is in verses 30 and 31, the conversation that Jesus has with Moses and Elijah. Look at verses 30 and 31. “And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure.” They spoke of his departure, and the Greek word there is the word exodus. The spoke of his exodus, “which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”

Now, why does it say they spoke of his exodus? Because, as I mentioned last week, there is this typology in the Old Testament where you have the original exodus event, you have the children of Israel in the wilderness; you have these patterns that are established. And that pattern gets fulfilled in Jesus Christ, so that when Jesus comes on the scene he comes as something like a new Moses who is leading the people of God in a new exodus.

If you just read the gospels attentively, you can see the various movements. The children of Israel, when they are delivered from Egypt, they pass through the Red Sea, right? And Jesus, in Luke 3, passes through the waters of baptism.

Immediately after they go through the Red Sea and then Mount Sinai, they go into the wilderness for 40 years. Jesus is driven into the wilderness for 40 days and nights to be tempted of the devil; we looked at that last week.

But there are other episodes, too. Jesus in Matthew 5 ascends a mountain and he gives the truest exposition of the law of God, just as Moses had given the Ten Commandments and the law of God from Mount Sinai.

In Luke 8, just preceding, just a few days preceding this passage, Jesus casts out demons from this man, the Gerasene demoniac. Do you remember this? He asks the demons, “What is your name?” Do you remember what they say? “Legion.” That’s a military word, it’s an army. Jesus casts out an army of demons, and what happens to them? They invade this herd of swine and they were drowned in the lake, and it’s reminiscent of Pharaoh and his armies drowning in the Red Sea.

There are all of these motifs of the exodus that all come together here in the gospel narratives, and it’s all showing us that Jesus is headed to this destination, where he will deliver God’s people once and for all from their bondage and their thralldom in sin. He delivers them not merely as Moses, but also as the sacrifice, as the Passover lamb, as Paul will say in 1 Corinthians 5.

Notice that verse 31 says that they “spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” I like that word “accomplish,” and it is the word that means “complete.” It means “fulfill.” It reminds me of Exodus 14:13, where the children of Israel are standing there at the Red Sea, and do you remember what Moses says? He says, “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show you today.”

“Stand still and watch! God’s going to do the work.” He accomplishes it, he does it, and Jesus accomplished the work. It shows us the finished work of Christ, and he accomplished it at Jerusalem.

There’s a real emphasis on Jerusalem in the book of Luke. There is this movement towards Jerusalem. Luke 9:51, just a few verses later, “And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Why? Why leave the mountain of glory and go to Jerusalem? “Why not stay there, Jesus? Why not stay on the mountain, where your glory is seen by your disciples? Why not show others?” Here’s why: because if he doesn’t come off this mountain, they can never be with him in the glory. He has to come off this mountain, the mountain of glory, to go to another mountain, the mountain of crucifixion. He comes off of Mount Tabor (probably the scene of the transfiguration) so that he can go to Mount Calvary. He comes off of the mountain of glory so that he can ascend the mountain of shame. He trades the majesty for the misery, he trades the honor for the hatred and the cruelty and the contempt that will await him on the cross of Jesus Christ.

Why does he do it? He does it so that he can accomplish our exodus, he can accomplish our redemption, so that he can set us free, so that our sins can be forgiven and we can be with him in glory.

I read a story years ago about a nine-year-old boy named Mark who was a student in school. One day the teacher called Mark’s mom and says, “I need to talk to you about something that happened today in class.” Well, I’ve been in this scenario many times; your heart kind of accelerates, “Oh, what did they do now,” you know! She’s wondering, “What happened? What did Mark do? What did he say?”

The teacher goes on to explain, “We were in a creative writing class, and I told them the story of the ant and the grasshopper, and how the ant works with industry, working hard through the summer and stores up its food, and the grasshopper doesn’t.” This is what happens: the grasshopper has nothing and the ant has a lot, and the assignment was to finish the story. This was creative writing. Finish the story.

Mark asked if he could draw a picture, and the teacher said, “Well, you can draw a picture, but you have to finish the story first.” The teacher said, “This has never happened in one of my assignments before. It never happened in one of my classes. Most of the time, the students say, ‘Well, the ant shared what it had stored up with the grasshopper, and they both lived,’ and sometimes the ant says, ‘Well, too bad for you.’ You know, ‘You didn’t save up for winter,’ so the ant lives and the grasshopper dies.

“Mark did something no student had ever done before. Mark had the ant give all of his food to the grasshopper, and the grasshopper lived and the ant died.” And here was the amazing thing: the picture that Mark drew at the bottom of the sheet of paper, the bottom of this writing assignment, was a picture of three crosses, because Mark had understood the gospel.

The gospel is, he trades his glory for shame so that we get glory. He trades his life in death so that we get life! He takes our place, he is our substitute. What he has earned, what he has achieved, we can receive, and he gets what we deserved.

Do you remember the hymn I shared with you a few minutes ago, Thomas Binney? Eternal light, right? The bliss of being in the eternal light of God, and there’s the problem. Let me read the verse again, because I want to read you the third verse.

“The spirits who surround your throne
May bear that burning bliss,
But that is surely theirs alone,
Since they have never, never known
A fallen world like this.”

Here’s the dilemma: How can I, a sinner, know the burning bliss of the glory of God? Here’s the answer:

“There is a way for man to rise
To that sublime abode.”

What’s the way?

“An offering and a sacrifice,
The Holy Spirit’s energies,
An advocate in heaven.”

The reason that you and I can bear the burning bliss, the bright, shining face of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, is because Christ is the offering, because he is the sacrifice, because he is our advocate with God.

“Such grace prepares us for the sight
Of holiness above.
The child of ignorance and night
May dwell in the eternal life
Through the eternal love.”

God’s love, revealed to us in the cross of Jesus Christ, brings us into the presence of the glory of God. Therefore, listen to Jesus, because of the sufficiency of his work. He accomplishes it, he does it, he does it all! There is not a finger for you to lift. Did you know that? There is nothing that you can contribute to the finished work of Christ. He does it all, therefore listen to him, trust in him, believe in him.

Let’s end in this way, verse 36. “And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.”

Here’s how the parallel passages put it. Matthew 17:8, “And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.” Mark 9:8, “And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them, but Jesus only.”

I just want to suggest to you that that’s the definition of true Christianity. Jesus only. That is where all of your deepest needs are met: Jesus only. That’s what this passage invites you to do: listen to Jesus only, rely on Jesus only.

Charles Spurgeon preached a whole sermon on those two words, “Jesus only,” and this is what he said. “I do desire, for my fellow Christians and for myself, that more and more the great object of our thoughts, motives, and acts may be Jesus only. I believe that whenever our religion is most vital it is most full of Christ. Moreover, when it is most practical, downright, and commonsense, it always gets nearest to Jesus. I can bear witness that whenever I am in the deeps of sorrow, nothing will do for me but Jesus only. I can rest in some degree in the externals of religion when I am in health, but I retreat to the innermost citadel of our holy faith, namely, to the very heart of Christ, when my spirit is assailed by temptation or besieged with sorrow and anguish. Whenever I have high spiritual enjoyment, enjoyments rich, rare, celestial, they are always connected with Jesus only. Other religious things may give some kind of joy, and joy that is healthy, too, but the sublimest, most inebriating, the most divine of all joys must be found in Jesus only. I find, if I want to labor much, I must live on Jesus only. If I desire to suffer patiently, I must feed on Jesus only. If I wish to wrestle with God successfully, I must plead Jesus only. If I aspire to conquer sin, I must use the blood of Jesus only. If I pant to learn the mysteries of heaven, I must seek the teachings of Jesus only. I believe that anything which we add to Christ lowers our position, and the more elevated our soul becomes, the more nearly like what it is to be when it shall enter into the region of the perfect, the more completely everything else will sink, die out, and Jesus, Jesus, Jesus only will be first and last, and midst and without end, the Alpha and Omega of every thought of head and pulse of heart.”

Brothers and sisters, saints and sinners, there’s one point in message this morning: Listen to Jesus, Jesus only. Look to him and trust in him because of the splendor of his glory, the supremacy of word, and the sufficiency of his finished work. Let’s pray.

Gracious God, our heavenly Father, how we thank you this morning for Jesus Christ and all that he has done for us. How we thank you for the cross! We thank you that in the cross we see, we do see the glory of God revealed in the cross in this mysterious way, that Christ, the glorious one, would take our sin and our shame out of love for us in order to welcome us into the kingdom of God, into the family of God. We do now, from our heart of hearts, trust in Jesus only. “In Christ alone our hope is found.”

We pray that we would draw near to us as we continue in worship. As we come to the Lord’s table this morning, may we come with hearts fixed on Jesus alone, may we come with hearts broken, mourning for our sins. We don’t look to our emotional state; we simply acknowledge we are sinners, we confess it, and we confess that our only hope is in Christ, in the blood and the righteousness of Christ for us.

So Lord, help us now as we come to the table. This is our response to your word; we come not just to observe a ritual, we come to feast on Jesus Christ himself. So by your Spirit draw near to us. We pray it in Jesus’ name, Amen.