Summary: A sermon for Transfiguration Sunday.
“Experiencing the Holy”
By: Kenneth Emerson Sauer
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church,
Newport News, VA
One exciting thing I’ve learned from the time I’ve been spending at the Hospice Unit and the Spinal Cord Injury Unit at the Veteran’s Hospital over the past several months is how much the doctors, nurses, and psychologists appreciate the importance of the job of Chaplains in the recovery and well-being of patients.
They tell me, “There is only so far we can go with medical science and drugs. A patient cannot be made fully whole until he or she experiences peace with God.”
And in order to experience peace with God we must have a Holy experience with Him.
In our Gospel Lesson for today we are told of a Holy experience.
Where a wonderful encounter between the divine and the human takes place.
Jesus took Peter, John and James with Him onto a mountain to pray.
But it seems that Jesus was the Only One Who was doing any praying.
In verse 32 we read that “Peter and his companions were very sleepy.”
So while Jesus is praying “the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightening…”
Then Moses and Elijah appear and start talking with Jesus.
Verse 31 tells us what they were talking about.
“They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.”
Moses and Elijah were talking with Jesus about His upcoming arrest and bloody crucifixion.
And, in a sense, I think they were giving Jesus a ‘pep talk’.
Remember, that Jesus…while on earth…was both fully human and fully divine.
His human side feared the humiliation and the pain that He was going to soon endure.
His divine side feared something even worse.
This was the first time that God the Father and God the Son were going to experience separation from each other.
Because in order for you and I to be given the greatest of all gifts—the opportunity to be reconciled to God…
…Jesus Christ, a man who had been tempted in every way we are—but was without sin—had to become sin for us.
Jesus had to experience the separation from God which is the result of our sin.
What did Jesus cry out in agony from the Cross?
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
At that very moment God the Son experienced His first and only separation from God the Father—which is what we deserve—which is hell.
But because Jesus was without sin, death and hell had no hold on Him, no power over Him and He rose from the dead.
And through faith in Jesus Christ, we too, can have power over sin, death, and hell!
That’s how much God loves us!
That’s how far God is willing to go in order to save us!
If we think it was an easy task for Jesus to “bring fulfillment at Jerusalem” we are terribly mistaken.
Let’s take a look at what Jesus was going through before He was arrested.
Let’s look at Matthew Chapter 26:38-39, and 42.
So, on the Mount of Transfiguration Moses and Elijah gave Jesus a ‘pep talk’.
And while all this was already going on…Peter, John and James hadn’t noticed a thing…
…because they “were very sleepy.”
We find this in verse 32.
And I want us to focus on verse 32 this morning.
“Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with Him.”
We don’t know how long this brilliant transfiguration and conversation had been taking place—we don’t know how long this Holy experience had been taking place before Peter, John and James even realized that anything was going on at all.
But, by the grace of God, they woke up!
They had been sleepy, they had been in a state of dullness or in a stupor, but when they “became fully awake” is when they realized the glory of Jesus and that Moses and Elijah were talking with Him!
The point is this: our realization of the glory of God comes to us when we are most “fully awake” or when we have a heightened moment of consciousness.
One of the true geniuses of human history is Pascal—the seventeenth century French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist.
During his brief 39 years on this earth, he made scientific discoveries which are the basis for a great amount of our most significant and contemporary knowledge.
But with all his ability in logic and all his commitment to tough-minded scholarship, Pascal found the greatest assurance in his experience with the Holy.
On the evening of Monday, November 23, 1654, he felt the reality of Jesus Christ in such intensity that he wrote: