Listen to Him (Sermon)

This is an adapted form of the sermon I preached on February 19, 2023, the Transfiguration of Our Lord. The gospel text I preached on was Matthew 17:1-9. You can view a recording of the sermon here, or watch the whole worship service here.

So Jesus takes Peter and James and John, up a mountain by themselves. And suddenly Jesus is transfigured before them. His face is glowing, his clothing is glowing, Moses and Elijah are talking with him! And Peter immediately thinks, “This is amazing! I have to respond in some way! I gotta do something!” So he starts talking to Jesus, “Lord, this is awesome! I’ll build something for you! A dwelling! One for you, and one for each of your friends!”

Poor Simon Peter. If the apostles had had a yearbook, Peter would probably have been voted “Most Likely to Put His Foot in His Mouth.” Now I think Peter always has good intentions, but he doesn’t always take the time to think things through fully. Peter always has to do something, say something, build something, right away. That gets him into trouble. And I can relate to that.

So often, if someone asks me a question, I feel like I have to respond immediately, give an answer right away.

So often, when I’m faced with a decision, I feel like I need to make that decision immediately. Otherwise I have this uncomfortable anxious feeling, and I just want to make that feeling go away. So I make the decision very quickly.

So often, I decide I want something, some article of clothing or video game or device, and I feel like I have to buy it immediately.

So often, I see something on Facebook, and I feel like I have to reply immediately.

I have learned the hard way, time and time again, that doing all these things immediately, even though it might make me feel a little less anxious in the moment, is not always the wisest choice. Haven’t we all learned that? So I wonder if the message Peter learned in today’s story might be a message we could all use right now.

While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them. While he was still speaking, a voice came from the cloud: “Peter, be quiet!” Well, something like that. The words Matthew records are these: “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”

This is a really rich story, and there are multiple ways to interpret the meaning of what the voice said. Among those ways is a simple message to Peter: be quiet, and listen. Wait, and listen.

Listen to Jesus. And I wonder if this is a message for me as well, and perhaps for you. When we are tempted to act immediately in any way: Wait. Listen to Jesus first.

So let’s practice that now. Let’s take the next few minutes to listen to Jesus. Here’s how I’d like to do it. I have a bunch of things that Jesus said printed out on slips of paper in this basket. I would like about ten volunteers willing to read one of them into the microphone. If you’d like to, please come up right now and stand in a line here in front of me.

Great. Thank you. Here’s what I’d like you to do. The first person in the line, just go to the basket, pull out a paper, and read something Jesus said into the microphone. Then you can sit back down. Then the second person, wait. Give it a pause of a few seconds, and when it feels right, you go ahead and read the next one. If the pauses aren’t the same length, that’s fine. We’ll trust the Spirit to help us have the right amount of time to listen.

And as these people read, listen to the words you hear. These are all words that Jesus said, as told by the gospel writer Matthew. Some of them will be familiar, others might not. Some of them may not mean much to you today. But perhaps one or two of them might. Perhaps this might be something you need right now, perhaps something that will change your life. Listen. Listen to him.

Go ahead and start.


These are the quotes from Jesus that were available to be pulled during the sermon:

  • Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
  • One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
  • Do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear”? Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
  • In everything do to others as you would have them do to you.
  • Ask and it will be given to you; search and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.
  • Follow me.
  • Get up and do not be afraid.
  • Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.
  • Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.
  • Take and eat; this is my body.
  • Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  • Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, for where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.
  • Take heart, child; your sins are forgiven.
  • “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
  • Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.

We have listened to Jesus speak to us. How good, Lord, it is to be here.

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

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