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4501 Waller Rd E
Tacoma, Washington
INI
Transfiguration Sunday
February 7, 2016
Ascension Lutheran Church, Tacoma WA
Paul Naumann, Pastor

THE BRIGHTEST LIGHT COMES FROM THE SON
Hebrews 3:1-6

Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. Amen. This morning we consider the letter to the Hebrews, chapter three, verses one to six, as follows:

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, 2 who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. 3 For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. 5 And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, 6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end. This is the Word of God.

In the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ, Who is the Light of the World, Dear Fellow Redeemed,

What do you think is the brightest light in the world? Well, if we're talking about manmade lights, that title has been held since 1993 by the Luxor Sky Beam. It's a spotlight radiating straight up from the apex of the pyramid-shaped Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. At 42 billion candlepower, it is the brightest manmade light in the world. They say that, on a clear night, it can be seen as far away as Los Angeles. Of course, that's a manmade light. And they don't turn it on during the day, for the very good reason that you wouldn't be able to see it. Why not? Because of the sun! With its 1.8 trillion candlepower, the sun puts even the Luxor Sky Beam in the shade. Whenever you're talking about light, it goes without saying that the brightest light comes from the sun.

One of the most brilliant luminaries in the ancient near east was the prophet Moses. Even today, people the world over all seem to know who Moses was. Down through the centuries he was especially revered, obviously, by people of Jewish extraction. And that posed a problem for the early Christians, many of whom were Jewish, and many of whom were tempted to follow Moses rather than Jesus. That is, they wavered between a firm commitment to following Christ, and a tendency to drift back into the legalistic traditions of the Mosaic Law. Have you been tempted to follow Moses? That is, to trust in the Law and your own good works instead of in Jesus? Have you felt your faith wavering from time to time? A little doubtful, perhaps, about whether you're truly ready to commit yourself to a life of following Christ? Well, don't turn back now! Because in today's text you'll find just the inspiration you need. Our theme is an appropriate one for Transfiguration Sunday:

THE BRIGHTEST LIGHT COMES FROM THE SON
I. Moses was a faithful servant of God,
II. But Jesus is the glorious Son of God!

The epistle to the Hebrews, obviously, was written to Hebrews. It was directed specifically at Christians of Jewish ethnic extraction. And the first three chapters of Hebrews comprise a dire warning. They're directed at a specific danger that the author recognized threatened Jewish Christians especially. That is, they were in danger of turning away from Christ and turning back to the law of Moses. Ironically, the author says that this is similar to the way in which the children of Israel rebelled against Moses in the wilderness and tried to turn back to the land of Egypt. The verses just subsequent to our text are a warning, "Today, if you will hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness, -- Hebrews 3:7-8.

Like you, they were members of a Christian church. Like you, they had confessed Jesus to be their Lord and their Savior. But now they were wavering. They wanted to turn back; they wanted to go another way. An all too human failing, and one to which we are susceptible as well. So often we rebel against God's will for our lives. We don't want to fall into line with what God's word tells us. We want to go our own way. Isaiah recognized this tendency many centuries ago when he said, All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. -- Isaiah 53:6.

Thank God for that last sentence! For we do have a great high priest, Jesus Christ, who offered himself on the cross as the sacrifice for our sins. We will be considering that great truth during the season of Lent that begins this week. Today we stand on the glorious mountaintop of Transfiguration Sunday, looking across the dark Valley of Lent toward the most glorious peak in the Christian church year, Easter Sunday. And that's what the writer to the Hebrews is trying to get his hearers to do: to contemplate Christ. He says, Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus.

"Consider who you are!" The writer says. "Holy people! Called with a heavenly calling! Consider who Jesus is - your great high priest, the one sent by God to save you!" And in order to keep them from denying and rejecting Christ, he makes a comparison between Christ and someone else. Someone whom no faithful Jewish person could ever deny or reject - the prophet Moses. Now criticizing Moses, of course, would be the fastest way to completely alienate any Jewish hearers. But he doesn't want to criticize Moses, and he doesn't need to. Because one thing our text - and all of Scripture - makes clear is that Moses was a faithful servant of God.

In fact, the writer uses this very trait of faithfulness to draw a comparison with Jesus. consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, 2 who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house.

Do you recognize the reference there? Just like every good Christian knows John 3:16, so every good Jew would know Numbers 12:7: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. 7 Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. -- Numbers 12:6-7. Moses was faithful in the job God sent him to do. He pointed the people toward the promised land. He reminded them, with daily sacrifices and weekly Sabbath observances, that one day the Messiah would arrive. The lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! The human Sabbath , who would give people rest for their souls in the forgiveness of sins.

Moses was a faithful servant of God. Not a perfect servant, certainly. He was a sinner like us. In fact, it was because of his sin against God at the waters of Kadesh that the Lord said he would not be allowed to enter the promised land with the people of Israel. So we heard about his death on the east side of the Jordan in this morning's Old Testament lesson. But he was faithful. He carried out his mission. It seems natural that this great prophet should appear with Elijah and the Lord Jesus on the mount of Transfiguration, as we heard in our Gospel lesson.

Moses was a bright light, but he wasn't the brightest. John the Baptist was a bright light, but he wasn't the brightest. As Scripture says, He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. -- John 1:8-9. THE BRIGHTEST LIGHT COMES FROM THE SON. It's true, Moses was a faithful servant of God. But Jesus is the glorious Son of God!

You probably know who Frank Loyd Wright was. He was the most famous architect in America. His striking, cantilevered designs can be seen in homes and public buildings across America, the most famous of which is the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Now no one would ever make the mistake of thinking that Frank Loyd Wright's buildings were greater than the architect himself, but that's just the mistake that these people were about to make. They were in danger of turning back to the creature, Moses, and turning away from the creator, Christ. But THE BRIGHTEST LIGHT COMES FROM THE SON. And that's why the writer says, this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.

There's another important difference here, I wonder if you noticed. It's the difference between in and over. Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, 6 but Christ as a Son over His own house Moses was faithful in God's house - he worked among God's people, he was part of God's people. But again, THE BRIGHTEST LIGHT COMES FROM THE SON. Jesus, the son of God, is over the house. He created the house. He established and built the Church of God, every believer Old Testament and New, including you and me. His coming was prophesied through Zechariah, "Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying: "Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the LORD; -- Zechariah 6:12.

And of course, there's a very great difference between a servant and a son. A wealthy man may have a faithful and trusted servant. But be he ever so faithful, and ever so trusted, he can never hold the same status as the man's own son. As Jesus said, "A slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. -- John 8:35-36. Moses the servant couldn't free us from our guilt. But Jesus, the son of God, can and has freed us. As high priest and sacrifice combined, he made atonement for our sin on the cross of Calvary. He gave himself up in to death, so that you and I might live in eternity! Again the prophet Isaiah, Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. -- Isaiah 53:4-5.

Beginning this week will consider the Son's great faithfulness once again. And what a joyful consideration that is! We who are so often faithless, we who are so often rebellious, and self-willed, and self-serving, we have a Savior who was none of those things! He was obedient, he followed only his father's will, he never served himself, but only us! We're reminded in Matthew, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." -- Matthew 20:28. How wonderful that the glorious son of God should take on himself the form of a servant and come in the likeness of men, all so that he could provide for sinners like you and me a place in the mansions of heaven!

Therefore, says the writer to the Hebrews, hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end. That's the same verb by the way that is used to describe the anchor of a ship. Hold fast to Christ! Let him be your anchor! In this storm tossed life that so frequently threatens to tear you from your moorings, keep connected to Christ. Keep praying, keep reading his word. Keep coming to church. REMEMBER the brightest light comes from the sun. So follow that light. It's a beacon you can safely follow all the way to the mansions of heaven!

I read an interesting puzzle recently in a magazine. A woman was travelling on a plane (the puzzle went) "…And in her purse she was carrying the following items: a pencil, a bottle of aspirin, a mirror, a book of matches, a nail file," etc., etc. It listed a whole catalog of everyday items that she was carrying in her purse. "Suppose the plane crashed on a desert island," the puzzle continued. "Which among these items would be most important for her survival?" I won't keep you in suspense. The answer was, "the mirror." A tiny makeup mirror all by itself is insignificant, said the author, but with it you can harness the mighty power of the sun to signal passing ships and planes. And in a critical situation, that power can mean the difference between life and death, between deliverance and destruction. My friends, we are in a critical situation. We are sinners in need of a Savior. Moses will not do for us; we must have Christ. So remember, THE BRIGHTEST LIGHT COMES FROM THE SON. Moses was a faithful servant of God, but Jesus is the glorious Son of God. God grant that we all may cling to Him as our anchor in a stormy sea, and hold fast, firm to the end, AMEN.