The Great Amen
Can I get an “Amen”? Have you ever heard that question asked? Do you know why? As a child growing up, for a while I thought that word “Amen” just meant “ the end.” That’s what we said at the end of the prayer. That’s what the pastor said at the end of the sermon. But, I’ve learned, that’s not what that word means, especially since it is the fifth word of my column today. So what does it mean?
The word comes from the Hebrew word that would sound something like “ aman” and has in it the picture of a rock. “Amen” says that whatever was just said is absolutely solid, unmovable, true. And today — we get a great Amen to this Epiphany season ( where we see Jesus “ revealed” as true God), an Amen to Jesus’ work, and an Amen to our whole system of faith.
The Gospel Lesson from Matthew 17 tells the story of when Jesus went up on that mountaintop with Peter, James, and John, and there his face shone like the sun. Moses and Elijah appeared to talk with him, and the Father’s own voice declared Jesus his beloved son with whom he was well pleased. Now in this reading from 2 Peter, one of those eyewitnesses talks about how certain that made him that Jesus was who he had been saying he was — true God. In other words, there was that “Amen” in what he had seen and heard.
In Peter’s words: “ 16 We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”
Our faith is based on certainty. The one the Father spoke about on that mountain was not just a good guy who led a great example of a life. His life was the perfect life of God in our place — and that mountaintop revealed it again. His death was not just the death of a great man, it was the innocent death of God made flesh, in our place.
Do you see how Jesus on this Transfiguration mountaintop verifies God’s word, about the one coming, as Daniel records, he was “ One like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence”? That’s what Jesus did on that hilltop. And then he went to that other hilltop Peter and the apostles would write about — Calvary, where we see the word of the prophets firming up in our eyes as it is fulfilled, where Jesus was, as Isaiah had promised so many years before, “ Pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities,” where the “ punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed.” This isn’t just some story. It is Amen because of what we have seen and heard. Isn’t it?
But, just in case the eyewitness account isn’t enough for you, Peter goes on in verse 19, “ We have a more certain thing, the prophetic word.”
Even more certain than anything our eyes can see or our hands can touch, we have God’s own word, his promises that can never be shaken, never be denied, never be broken. In other words, they are rock- like. God’s word is always “Amen!”
Pastor Jonathan E. Scharf Abiding Grace Lutheran