When Jesus was baptized, the Father declared, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!" Right there. In the Jordan River. Boom! That's God's Son! At the Transfiguration, with Jesus shining in His glory like the sun, the Father speaks again: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." But this time He adds, "Hear Him!" Listen to Him. Why does the Father add that on? Because what is about to happen is completely unlike what everyone pictures about God. Jesus shining in glory and power and majesty on the mountain top, hanging out with the likes of the Old Testament saints Moses and Elijah? That's awesome! Awe-inspiring. Fear-inspiring! That's God! Right there! You can't even look at Him! But what Jesus says after that doesn't make any sense. It's after our Gospel reading. But it goes like this: Jesus tells His disciples that He's going to be betrayed into the hands of evil men, suffer many things, be crucified and rise again the third day. He shines like God on the mountain and then tells them He's going to undergo some very not-Godlike stuff. Suffering? Dying? What kind of God does that? This is why the Father says to "Hear Him!" Because it is the Word that tells us what Jesus is doing. What He will undergo. What will happen to Him. And since the disciples had seen Jesus on the mountain, they might never have believed what would happen to Him in His suffering and death. They certainly didn't and they were blown away by His resurrection. But He had told them everything ahead of time.
Jesus' Words save us from a false Jesus. They rescue us from our disappointment in a God who lets Himself get arrested and who suffers. We want the God who rides in on the white charger with His legions of angels and destroys all the bad guys. Except we're the bad guys too. We're sinners. If Jesus came to deal with sinners like that, we'd all be toast. So He comes to take the place of sinners, as we heard when He was baptized, and to suffer our suffering and die our death. To rescue us, forgive us, and give us new life. This is the Father's beloved Son. Hear Him! What does He say? He says that He has come to bear your sins, to be your rest, to heal and restore you. He says that He has come into this world not to be served but to serve and give His life as your ransom. Jesus says that He is the fulfillment of all the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah) so that we know God always keeps His promises. He says that He will give Himself into death for you so that He will raise you up on the Last Day. He says that He glorifies the Father by doing His will, which is to save sinners. He says that He is not here for Himself but for your sake. Jesus says that all that He will undergo, He undergoes for you. To save you. So when the Father says "Hear Him!" then we listen to Jesus tell us what sort of Savior He is and how He will do His saving. That way, we're not disappointed by a God who can die on a cross but rejoice that His death and resurrection save us.
Then now, today, in your life, "Hear Him!" You see, you are a child of God. You shine with a hidden glory the world cannot see. But the world, along with the devil and your sinful nature, wants to cause you to suffer. And you will suffer. You may suffer the things that other people do to you. You will put up with the indignities of people's faults that cause you suffering or they may cause it directly. You will put up with the suffering that comes from plain old life, as the world and the devil try to take you down: bills, job, disasters, whatever. You will suffer as death creeps on your body, making you old, making you sick. You will suffer the attacks of your sinful flesh which plunges you into the frustrating and wearying habits of your sins and transgressions. And you will look up to God and you won't see bright, shiny Jesus and you'll say, "Well what am I supposed to do now?" And the Father says, "Hear Him!" And what does He say? "I baptized you..." "I forigve you..." "I died and rose for you..." "Given and shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins." The Words of Jesus mean what they say and deliver what they promise. Even when it doesn't look like it. Even when Jesus in water, Word, bread and wine doesn't look anything like the shiny, bright, power-God everyone demands to see. His Word. Hear Him. He says what you need to hear. Always. You are the Lord's. His death and resurrection happened for you. Your sins are forgiven. Your enemies are defeated. Your suffering is not all there is. Your death is not the end. You have a Savior. You have eternal life. Jesus is the beloved Son. You are a beloved child of God. How can you know? Hear Him. Jesus tells you exactly that. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Sermon Topics: Matthew