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The Father is Well Pleased with the Cross of Jesus. Transfiguration/ Life Sunday Sermon

P1000266Transfiguration Sunday [Life Sunday]

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. Matthew 17:1-9

January 20, 2013

“The Father is well-pleased with Jesus’ cross”




[The Father is well-pleased with Jesus’ cross.

  1. 1.        We are pleased with our work and think it brings life.
  2. 2.       The Father is well-pleased with Jesus’ cross because it does bring life to you.]


“I was single, living with some friends, had a good job, and was having a good time. Having a baby just wasn’t in the cards. I told the father, and he said he had no intention of marrying me. He made his intentions quite clear right from the get-go. I had no desire to marry him either. I didn’t think a child was the right reason to get married. He said he’d pay for an abortion. Adoption was, quite truthfully, not an option I ever considered…At the time I thought that I could never give a child up, but now I look back and wonder how I could have done what I did. Giving it up would have been so much better. I didn’t really think of this as being a little person. It was a purely selfish decision. All I thought was, “What am I going to do now? This is a problem, and I have to take care of it.” I went to the doctor, and he suggested a clinic. It all happened so quickly. Looking back, I didn’t agonize. I had to make a decision; something had to be done.”


Those words come from a collection of stories told by women who have had an abortion, and you can find them at the top of the bulletin.  Further on the same woman explains how she has tried to deal with the regret and guilt that came to her later as she looked at the children God gave her in her marriage, wondering whether the child she aborted would have been a boy or a girl, whether the child is in heaven.  “I just don’t think about things that trouble me.  I push them down.” 


She goes on to describe what she thinks about God’s forgiveness: “I hear the pastor saying that it doesn’t matter how great our sins are, that God forgives us.  But I think, ‘But mine are really bad.’  I guess I believe that my sins are forgiven, but a lot of times I have a lot of trouble feeling that they are forgiven.”


There will be people hearing this sermon who have had an abortion or paid for a woman to have one.  Others have been involved in other sins against God’s gift of life.  They should hear at the outset of the sermon, now: God put away your sin on the cross of Jesus.  Don’t despair.  Listen to God’s beloved Son who says “Do not be afraid.”


Others know someone who has had an abortion.  And there are those who do not.  Tuesday is the 40th anniversary of legal abortion in the United States, but it has been done in this country for much longer than that. 


Regardless, the confession of this woman is not only her confession, and not only the confession of people who have had an abortion.  St. Peter could relate with it.  Like her, he also followed the wisdom of his flesh, called God’s work “bad” and tried to replace it with his own work.  Like her he also tried to gain life for himself in his own way, apart from God’s word.  He also fell into grave sin and would have despaired if Jesus had not restored him with His absolution.



What was true of Peter is true of all of us.  Apart from the Holy Spirit

  1. 1.        We are pleased with our work and think it brings life, but
  2. 2.       the Father is well-pleased with Jesus’ cross because it truly brings life to you.


  1. 1.         


transfigurationLord, it is good for us to be here.  If you wish, I will build three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.


It seems like a reasonable thing for Peter to say.  It’s good to see Jesus’ glory.


It also seems good to stay a little longer.  Or to try to do something to serve and honor Jesus. 


What seems good to us is not the final verdict.

It did not seem good to Peter that the Christ, the Son of the living God, should be rejected and killed in Jerusalem.  Jesus rebuked him as being the mouthpiece of Satan. 


Eve looked at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and saw that the fruit was “good for food.” 


It seems good to us that we should enjoy life and be happy.  It seems good to us when our work is successful.

            These are good in and of themselves. 


It seems bad to us when we don’t have much money, or we go hungry, or we are in emotional pain.  And when we die.

            These are evil in the sense that they are the result of sin.


It seems good to us to try to keep God’s law and be a good person.

            This is good in itself.


Human beings can sense some basic things about what is good.  The law is written on our hearts.


            But our knowledge of what is good there cannot bring us to God.


What God says is good: children are a heritage from the Lord.

            We say only if they come at the right time.


God says: Whoever finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.

            We say, only if the wife makes you happy.  Only if you get married at the right age.


Luther: fallen human nature sees God’s works as evil and man’s works as good, when in reality man’s work is evil and God’s good.


            Catechumen: God is always doing us good, but it doesn’t seem good to us.  It doesn’t seem good when my parents discipline me, but actually it is.


            Peter: it’s not good for you to die.  This will never happen to you.  It seemed like a religious thing to say, but actually it was Satan’s temptation. 



God is well pleased with Jesus.


He is well pleased with Jesus.  Jesus always does the will of His Father.


God is well-pleased with Jesus’ death on the cross.

            How could that be?

            Not that He is well-pleased with the sin that brought Him there, but with Jesus’ work.


God is not well-pleased with our flesh’s attempts to honor Him or with our attempts to make things turn out well.


He is pleased with His Son who dies on the cross and leads us through the cross to this glory, so that we do not stand in front of it like Peter opposing God’s will, but so that we share it.


He is well-pleased with you; that is what He says in His Word.

            Listen to Him means—rest.  His works are good and give life.  Ours are evil and bring death.


            The transfiguration happened after 6 days.  (Creation)


It pleased the Father well that Jesus’ face, which shines like the sun here—He would fall on it in grief and make payment for our sins.  It pleased Him, it was good—it atoned for us.


It pleased the Father that the shining face of Jesus would be spit on. 


The Son is well pleasing to the Father.  All His work is well pleasing to Him.  Listen to Him.  Receive it.


Because of Jesus into whom we are baptized, we are well-pleasing to the Father.  Not by our works.

            By Jesus’ works, given us in the Word.


Your life is well pleasing to the Father.

            You are pleasing in the calling you have from him, even if it seems like you stink in it, that there is much failure, sin, and suffering.


            You are well pleasing to him as a parent, even though your family may seem like a mess.  Don’t try to get out of it.


            Even if you are pregnant out of wedlock, you are well pleasing to the Father by Jesus’ suffering.


            Even if children do not have a perfect life, they are well pleasing to the Father, because He gives them as blessings, and we are well pleasing to the Father even as sinners because Jesus has borne the cross for us.  He covers our sins and children’s sins. 


            When you carry the cross of marriage and children (or singleness) and seek to live according to His will—when you do this out of faith in His Word, hearing His Word—you are well pleasing to the Father and your sins are forgiven.


When you try to help people and nourish life, you are well pleasing.  Even if you are not good at it.  When you try to speak the truth about life you are well pleasing even if you mess it up.


You bear your cross and go on hearing His word, and then He gives you rest, not just momentarily but forever;


He shares His glory with us now (under the cross, through faith in the Gospel), but then in heaven where we will stand before the Father as sons in the beloved Son.


The peace of God….


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