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Sermon from February 14, 2021

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Mark 9:2-9

   Do you remember what happened six days before the transfiguration? Jesus had asked his disciples what they were hearing. What were people saying about him? They told him that some were saying that he was Elijah, or some other Old Testament prophet come back to life, or maybe John the Baptist come back to life. Then he asked them what they had to say about him. Did they agree with the crowds? No. Peter confessed that he believed that he was the Christ, the promised Messiah, the Son of God.

  As a teacher, Jesus might have thought, “Yes! They have been listening. They finally get it. They know the truth about who I am!” But any excitement he may have had over Peter’s confession quickly disappeared. As he explained to them that being the Christ meant suffering, rejection, death and resurrection, Peter, as boldly as he had confessed, now boldly argued with Jesus that this could not be.

  We get it. We know how easy it is to be just like Peter. By God’s grace we have come to know the truth about Jesus. We know and confess that he is not just a prophet. We know and confess with Peter that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah, the Son of the living God. But it’s so easy to interpret what that means through the lens of our selfish sinful nature.

  That’s what Peter did. Selfishly he didn’t want to think about anything bad happening to Jesus because then, what would he do? He didn’t want to think about being without the company of Jesus. When he saw Moses and Elijah in glory talking with Jesus, he selfishly wanted to have them stay, and to continue to enjoy this glimpse of heaven on earth as long as possible. Who wouldn’t? But, as Jesus pointed out, he was looking at things only from a human point of view, selfishly. He was missing the big picture, the things of God, the real reason that Jesus came.

  When you confess that Jesus is the Christ, what selfish thoughts are you tempted to have? Are you tempted to think of him as the one who should solve all your earthly problems? And, if he doesn’t, are you tempted to wonder if he’s really the kind of Messiah you want? Are you tempted, like Peter, to want to set up a little piece of heaven on earth and avoid all suffering or trouble that might come as a result of your confession that Jesus is the Christ? It’s so easy for us to let selfish, earthly thoughts drown out the things of God.

  Peter had another problem we often have. He sometimes spoke or acted on emotions, without really thinking through what the consequences of his words or actions would be. If Jesus followed his suggestion, if they built shelters for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah and spent the rest of their days on that mountain with them, there would be no salvation. If Jesus didn’t hide his glory again, and come back down the mountain to go up to Jerusalem to suffer; if he didn’t willingly submit himself to betrayal, capture, injustice and finally crucifixion, then how would the sins of the world be paid for?

  We are told that Peter, James and John heard Jesus was talking with Moses and Elijah about his departure, about his suffering and death, and also about his resurrection and ascension, his departure from life on this earth. He was talking with the representatives of the two major parts of Old Testament Scripture, the Law and the Prophets. He was discussing with Moses, the great lawgiver, and Elijah, the great prophet, about how he was going to fulfill every prophecy that was recorded in the Law and the Prophets about the Messiah.

   How blessed these disciples were and would be to see the prophecies fulfilled right before their eyes. As Jesus told them on another occasion, blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

  Yes, it was good for Peter, James, and John to be there and to see Jesus in glory talking with Moses and Elijah. Yes, it is good for us to be here today to see these things through their eyes and to be assured that Jesus is truly the Christ, the Son of God. But our faith is not to be based on experience or emotional highs. The Father made sure to remind Peter and us of that. He reminded Peter and us that there is something much more important than experience or emotional highs. The Father spoke from the cloud, this is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him.

  Keep listening to Jesus. That was going to be very important for these disciples as they came down the mountain, traveled to Jerusalem and watched Jesus ascend Golgotha, not shining in glory but covered in blood, experiencing the darkness of bearing the sins of the world and being forsaken by the father in our place. Keep listening to Jesus even when the noise of the world tries to drown out what he has said. Keep listening, remembering what he said would happen – On the third day I will rise again!

  It’s not easy for us to keep listening to Jesus. The noise of the world is very loud. It tries to drown out his voice.

  The noise of ungodly music that promotes hatred of authority, abuse of women, promiscuity and racism tries to drown the word of God that says honor those in authority, flee from immorality, love others the way God loves you, right out of our heads. It tries to keep us from listening to Jesus.

  The noise of division and finger pointing, the noise of woke-ism, the noise of what claims to be science but is really only unproven theory like Evolution, the noise of the LGBTQ movement and abortion as women’s health, all these things and more bombard us, and especially our teens, constantly day in and day out. They try to keep us from hearing the voice of Jesus who says, let the one without sin cast the first stone, who says that in the beginning, when God created all that exists, he made people male and female. It tries to drown out the voice of Jesus who says Let the little children come to me; and things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied round his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.

  How do we overcome the noise of the world so that we can listen to Jesus? A lot of the noise can be turned off. You really do have control over the kind of music you listen to, the kind of TV and Movies you watch. You really do have control over what you look at on social media, or if you turn it off completely. Parents set an example for your kids. When something objectionable comes on, don’t be lazy. Turn it off. Then explain why. Let your children listen to Jesus through you by telling them what Jesus says. Don’t be lazy and let them listen to whatever they want. Their eternal life may be at stake.

  There have been a lot of reports lately about what is being taught in some schools. Children have received assignments that blatantly contradict what Jesus says in his word. Parents be aware of what is being taught to your children. Be aware of what is in their textbooks. Be aware of what’s in their homework and what they might have been told not to tell you. Do all you can to keep the noise of the world from drowning out the voice of Jesus in their lives.

  Those who attend Christian schools are not immune. The noise of the world reaches them too. But by God’s grace there are daily opportunities to listen to Jesus in devotions and chapels and discussions in class. But there is another danger in a Christian school. It’s the danger of taking the opportunity to listen to Jesus for granted. It’s the danger of thinking, “I’ve heard that already. I already know about Jesus.” That attitude of complacency leads to hearing the words, but not really listening to Jesus.

  Our Christian schools like NELHS have been a great blessing for many. NELHS has and continues to offer a great opportunity for young people to turn down the noise of the world and listen to Jesus. But not everyone is able to make use of such schools, and the need to listen to Jesus doesn’t end with high school. No matter what our age or stage of life, we all need to continue to listen to Jesus. We need that daily reminder that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. We need the daily reminder that he came to live and die in our place. We need the daily reminder that he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven so that we could join Moses and Elijah in glory when Jesus comes again shining like the sun to take us to the kingdom he is preparing for us. What better thing could there be than to listen to Jesus say, I am the way, the truth and the life. I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me has eternal life.

  Parents, it’s your responsibility to help your children turn down the noise of the world and listen to Jesus. There are lots of ways to do that. NELHS is one of those ways. But in order to help your children you need to take the Father’s admonition and apply it to yourself. Think about how much the noise of the world might be drowning out Jesus’ voice in your life. As you are reminded of the fact that there is nothing more important than Jesus and his word, make every effort to make more time to listen to Jesus yourself, and then talk about his words with your children when you get up, when you lie down, and every opportunity that presents itself.

  Keep listening to Jesus.