Summary: Why did Jesus really take Peter, James and John the Mount of Transfiguration? Because there was something that He could only teach in that place and they remember it the rest of their lives.

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This sermon was delivered to St Oswald’s in Maybole,

and Holy Trinity in Ayr, Scotland on the 2nd March 2014

(Scottish Episcopal Churches in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).

Summary: Why did Jesus really take Peter, James and John the Mount of Transfiguration? Because there was something that He could only teach in that place and they remember it the rest of their lives.

Exodus 24:12-18 2 Peter 1:16-21 Matthew 17:1-9 Psalm 2 or Psalm 99

“Please join me in my prayer.” Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our strength, and our redeemer. Amen. (Psalms. 19:14)


In our text today, we hear about Jesus taking three of his disciples up a mountain. Notice he only took three, meaning he had something extra special to teach them; obviously something pretty advanced as he chose the three of his most dedicated disciples; which means we must pay particular attention or we are going to miss something very important.

Jesus at this stage was nearing the final chapter on his ministry and on the last road to the cross; … so his time therefore was short … and the pace and intensity of his lessons increased, as he was preparing the disciples for their own ministries … ministries without him in the flesh to guide them.

However the disciples did not know this, and were totally unaware that Jesus needed to die, in order to set humanity free through his resurrection.

Jesus therefore was preparing them for the time after his death and this trip up the mountain was the only place he could really teach Peter, James and John … something that He could not teach them anywhere else.

And being a teacher myself, I can fully understand the necessity of getting their full attention, you know to, “create the correct environment for learning” … and Jesus did so by this dramatic experience … which was absolutely terrifying for them, so much so, they would never doubt the power of God again.

In fact, it was so dramatic that Peter wrote his 2nd letter, (Chapter 1, Verse 16), many years later that “We … were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father, (both) honour and glory, … when there came such a voice to him from (God) the excellent glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’”.

But as I said, this was a special trip for Jesus and His disciples … and notice what happened to Jesus as he reached the pinnacle or the top, “Jesus turned around and his entire countenance changed. His face began to shine like the sun, and His garments became as white as the light”.

And that must have been bright … and if that wasn’t enough, two men suddenly appear beside Jesus; and although we are not told how, … the disciples knew who they were … they were Moses & Elijah; two of the greatest men from the Old Testament. Moses (who represented the law by receiving the 10 commandments), was the great leader of the Israelites out of Egypt; and Elijah, (who was possibly the greatest of the Old Testament prophets) … had the power to command fire down from heaven, to strike at the enemies of God.

The disciples were not only in the presence of Jesus, they were also in the presence of these great men of the Old Testament, and thinking about it, we could forgive the disciples for thinking that these men were greater than Jesus himself … because everyone in Israel had heard of Moses and Elijah … and everyone held them in great esteem. After all, Jesus was still alive at this stage, and as you know, nobody is truly wonderful until they have gone.

The disciples therefore were understandably bewildered … and terrified … and so Peter, (who had to say something), and blurted out, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters - one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah". Which if you think about it, is saying something for the sake of saying something; and three Gospels agree, Peter didn’t have a clue what was going on.

Then suddenly … a massive cloud envelops all of them, and the voice of God declares: "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!"

The focus is now all on Jesus … as God was making sure that the disciples knew that Jesus far excelled the reputations of both Moses and Elijah. … God was saying, although these men are held in great esteem, Jesus is greater than them by far … Jesus is my son. Did you notice that Moses and Elijah’s faces didn’t shine like the Sun, and their clothes didn’t become as white as light; … it was only Jesus that shone with light and glory … not them.

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