Summary: A sermon for Transfiguration of the Lord Sunday.
By: Reverend Kenneth Sauer
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church,
Newport News, VA
In our Gospel Lesson for this morning we see that Jesus led Peter, James and John up a high mountain…
…and this was the place where Jesus “was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking to Jesus.”
Why did Jesus go there?
Why did He make this expedition to these lonely mountain slopes?
The Gospel of Luke gives us a clue.
Luke tells us that Jesus was praying.
By this time, Jesus was on His way to the Cross.
He knew this.
He had told His disciples about this.
Could it be that Jesus had to make quite sure, sure beyond all doubt, that He was doing the right thing?
Jesus the Son and God the Father are One.
But during His earthly ministry, Jesus, Who is God, took on flesh.
He became one of us.
Jesus was both human and divine.
He was God, but He was also able to feel the kinds of feelings we feel, like pain, temptation, loneliness, sadness, fear.
And He was headed for the most horrifying and painful death imaginable…death on a Cross!
At this point, Jesus could have turned back.
At any point, Jesus could have turned back.
He had lived among us.
He knew all our short-comings, our short-sighted-ness, our selfishness, our tendency to go it on our own, our difficulty in understanding what God is about…what life is truly about, and our lack of faith.
If Jesus went to the Cross, would it truly make any difference?
Would anyone believe?
Would anyone be saved, or would it all be done in vain?
So Jesus goes to the mountaintop in order to make sure…in order to pray to the Father for guidance, reassurance…
…in order to make sure that this Cross…
…this bloody Cross is truly God’s will for Him!
That’s one of many things about Jesus that is so different than the way we often do things.
On the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus was asking God, “What do you wish for me to do?”
We nearly always ask: “What do I wish to do?”
We need to follow God’s will, God’s leading if we are going to fulfill God’s will for our lives.
Because our flesh is going to nearly always be leading us in a different direction!
When you are wondering where God is leading you to go…
…when you are at a cross-roads between what you feel God may be calling you to do and what you may “want” to do, do you go to God in prayer?
So there on the Mountain of Transfiguration we see that two great figures appear to Jesus.
They are Moses and Elijah.
It’s fascinating to see in how many ways the experience of these two great servants of God matched the experience of Jesus.
When Moses came down from the mountain of Sinai, he didn’t know that the skin on his face shone with the glory of God.
Both Moses and Elijah had their most intimate experiences with God on a mountaintop.
It was into Mount Sinai that Moses went to receive the stone tablets of the Law.
And it was on Mount Horeb that Elijah found God, not in the wind, and not in the earthquake, but in the still small voice.
There was also something awesome about the deaths of Moses and Elijah.
Deuteronomy Chapter 34 tells us of the lonely death of Moses on Mount Nebo.
And it reads as if God Himself was the one to bury Moses.
We are told: “And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is.”
As for Elijah, he left the astonished Elisha in a chariot and horses on fire.
The two great figures that appeared to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, as Jesus was facing the Cross, were men who seemed too great to die.
Luke tells us that Moses and Elijah, on the Mount of Transfiguration, talked with Jesus “about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.”
Moses was the supreme law-giver of Israel.
To him the nation owed the laws of God.
Elijah was the first and greatest of all the prophets.
People always looked back to him as the prophet who had brought to them the very voice of God.
And when these two great men met with Jesus on the mountain…well, the greatest of the law-givers and the greatest prophet of all time were both telling Jesus to “Go on!”