Summary: A sermon for Transfiguration of the Lord Sunday.
“Hiking with Jesus”
This past week 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 summit.
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 of mine told me about his experience at Mount Tabor, a place that
some believe the Transfiguration took place.
He said it was a difficult climb.
Others speculate it was on Mount Hermon that the Transfiguration took place.
Either way both are very steep mountains, and it takes a lot of work to get to the top.
But this is where Peter, James and John followed Jesus.
It was an awful difficult climb.
What I’m wondering is: Where were the other 9 disciples?
Why did they 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 that it was just such a beautiful day that he would rather go fishing?
Whatever the reasons, the disciples who did not follow Jesus to the mountaintop missed
out on an amazing experience.
Were they just not expecting anything to happen?
Was it just too steep of a climb?
Was it too much work?
Did they tell themselves: “We got plenty of time to follow Jesus up some mountain.
Today I’m going to do something else.
I’ll go next time.”?
Those who didn’t go must have been terribly sorry that they missed out on this incredible experience when the three who accompanied Jesus returned.
Often times this is our attitude toward coming to church.
We have too many other things to do on Sunday.
It’s our only day off during the week that we can sleep in...or get a hair cut, or rake the
leaves, or visit relatives....
…perhaps we have soccer practice or baseball or softball practice during this time….
....and we’re not expecting anything to happen anyway.
But the truth is, when we decide to put all other claims on our time and lives aside, and follow Jesus--amazing things do happen--even when we least expect it!
Anyhow, here was Jesus, climbing up this steep and high mountain...and following right along
were Peter, James and John.
It is often very difficult to follow Jesus.
It can take a lot of effort.
Decisions have to be made.
Priorities must be put in place.
But it is the most important thing that any of us can ever decide to do!
To follow Jesus means turning around or moving in another direction.
It begins with God’s Spirit calling our spirits to come unto God.
And when we decide to follow Christ we decide to turn away from sin, from selfishness, from everything that oppresses us and others-- from violence and evil.
And we are converted to a faith and a new life of compassion, justice, and peace.
We become citizens of Christ’s new order.
We change lords, and begin a new direction for our allegiance and loyalty.
In following Christ we name the powers from which we turn and the evil that we commit ourselves to oppose!
In our Epistle lesson for today Peter testifies about his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration!
He says that he was an “eyewitness” to the “majesty” of the “power” of “Our Lord Jesus
“For he (Jesus) received honor and glory from God the Father,” writes Peter “when that
voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my beloved, with
whom I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice from heaven, while we were with him
on the holy mountain.”
Wow, what an awesome testimony!
What a mountain top experience!
Thank God Peter didn’t decide to go get a hair cut that day instead!!!
Because of this experience Peter is able to say with confidence: “we have the
prophetic message more fully confirmed.”
And this is what happens to us when we decide to follow Jesus up the mountain....
When we decide to make it our number one priority to follow Christ!