Summary: A sermon for Transfiguration of the Lord Sunday.
“Demons Shriek and Sufferers Weep”
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN
A friend of mine told me about a time, many years ago, when he and his family were tramping up Sharp Top Mountain in Bedford County, Virginia.
His daughter was a little girl, and about half way up the mountain she said she was too tired to go the rest of the way and wanted to either ride up somehow or go back down.
My friend’s son creatively told her that there was a Coke Machine up at the top.
She believed him and on she trudged!
My friends, we have a mountain to climb.
We have a hike to take.
And there may not be a Coke Machine awaiting us at the summit…
…but there is no doubt that we will be confronted and transformed by the REAL THING!!!
A colleague told me about his experience at Mount Tabor, a place that some believe the Transfiguration happened.
He said it was a difficult climb.
Others speculate it was on Mount Hermon that the Transfiguration happened.
Either way, both are steep mountains, and it takes a lot of work to get to the top.
But this is where Peter, James and John followed Jesus.
What I’m wondering is: why did the other 9 disciples not follow Jesus on this journey?
Were they not invited to come?
Or did they have other things to do that day?
Did some of them have relatives down in the valley that they wanted to visit?
Did one of them decide to go get a hair cut instead?
Did another decide it was such a beautiful day that he would rather go fishing?
Did they tell themselves, “We got plenty of time to follow Jesus up some mountain. Today I’m gonna do something else. I’ll go next time?”
The truth is, when we decide to put all other claims on our time and lives aside, and follow Jesus—amazing things happen!!!
In our Scripture passage, we are told that as Jesus was praying, “the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightening.”
Suddenly, two men were talking with Jesus--Moses and Elijah!
If we aren’t steeped in Jewish tradition, we really can’t understand just how dramatic this mountaintop experience was.
Moses and Elijah were two of the great “heros” of the Jewish faith.
It was like having a ring-side seat on heaven.
Or it’s kind of like…
…imagine that your third grade elementary school teacher took you to the top of a mountain where he or she was joined by George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Except this was much more amazing!!!
And they were talking about Jesus’ upcoming death.
Many have thought of this as a sort of “pep talk” for Jesus.
We don’t know how long they were talking and we don’t know exactly what was said, all we know is the basic theme.
It was to get Jesus ready to die the most horrible of deaths…for the salvation of all who will believe!
In verse 32 we find something very interesting.
We are told that the three young disciples were very sleepy.
Perhaps they were tired from the long hike up the mountain.
Maybe they had gotten bored while Jesus was praying.
Perhaps they didn’t really expect
much of anything to happen anyway.
And isn’t that sometimes the way we feel when we sit in the sanctuary during worship?
And when we are half asleep during worship, we miss out on a great deal.
It is when we are fully awake that we tend to have our conversion experiences.
It is when we are fully awake that God convicts us.
It is when we are fully awake that we are able to really hear God’s Word, and in this heightened state of consciousness, “when we are fully awake,” this is when the glory of God is most evident!
In our Scripture Lesson, we are told that it wasn’t until the disciples “became fully awake” that they were able to see Jesus’ glory and Moses and Elijah speaking there with Him!
You know it’s interesting…
…the crowds that followed Jesus marveled that Jesus could work miracles…
…and at the same time, Jesus marveled that people could be so filled with unbelief!
The crowds considered miracles as “out of the ordinary;” Jesus thought of unbelief as out of the ordinary.
Jesus saw belief and its results as our natural state of being!
And this is because you and I are meant to live “fully awake” to the glory of God!
The Grateful Dead sing a song where they say, “I need a miracle every day.”
My friends, miracles are happening every day…every minute…every second…
…are we awake enough to see them?