Summary: A sermon about being transformed by Christ.
“Hiking with Jesus”
In the chapter before this morning’s Lesson Jesus asked His disciples: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They came up with a number of answers.
Then Jesus asked “But what about you? Who do you say that I am?”
“Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Well, Peter was right…
…but Peter still did not understand what that meant…
…a couple of verses later when Jesus predicts His death…
“Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!’”
To which Jesus replied: “Get behind me Satan…you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
And so six days later, Jesus takes Peter, James and John on a hike where His face shines like the sun, and His clothes become as white as the light.
Then He is joined by none other than Moses and Elijah—who represent the Law and the Prophets—and of course, Jesus is the fulfillment of both.
What happens on the mountain that day confirms that Jesus is God’s Divine Son, and gives the disciples a preview of what life will look like in the Kingdom of Heaven.
And Peter, who six days earlier was told that Jesus is going to be killed at the bottom of the mountain quickly gets a fantastic idea: “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.”
Made sense to Peter.
Makes sense to me.
But while Peter was still talking, “a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’”
In other words, Peter, James, John and WE have to be reminded that it’s Jesus’ Way we must follow—not ours.
“Listen to him!”
“Listen to him!”
Sounds easy right?
But it’s not as easy as it would seem.
One reason why it’s not as easy as it would seem is that listening to Jesus means following Jesus.
And following Jesus means becoming like Jesus and doing the types of things Jesus does.
It means being transfigured—like Jesus.
And transfigured means to be changed.
Jesus has just told these disciples: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”
Take up my cross?
Lose my life?
No wonder that when the disciples heard the voice from the cloud say: “Listen to him!” they “fell facedown to the ground, terrified.”
Author and priest Rick Morley has this to say about the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration:
“The transfiguration isn’t a small thing.
It’s not a fresh coat of paint.
It’s not even an upgraded operating system.
It’s wholesale change.
From the bottom up.
From the inside out.
And, to be honest…it’s not always something that I want.
I like how I am.
I like my sinful indulgences.
I’m used to my petty discriminations.
The way I am, as broken and flawed as it is, is at least comfortable.
I know it like the back of my hand.
I don’t even have to think about it.
Other times though, I want to change.
I want to do a new thing.
But, summoning the energy to begin that change, or sustaining the energy past a few days or so, seems nearly impossible.
So, when the disciples are overcome with fear on the mountaintop, I get it.
I think I’d be too.
I’m not so sure that they’re overwhelmed by the pyrotechnics.
They’ve seen a good deal of what Jesus can do.
But, the mountaintop is a place of transformation, of metamorphosis.
Jesus went to the mountaintop not just to be transfigured himself, but to offer Peter, James, and John the space to be transfigured with him.
He was offering them wholesale change.
He was offering them the opportunity to shine like the sun too.
And that scared the you-know-what out of them.
Because sometimes staying right where you are, in the shadows, is far more tempting.”
Peter had wanted to build shrines on the mountain and stay there forever.
God had other things in mind.
When the voice from the cloud said: “Listen to him!” I think the disciples had a pretty good idea what that meant.
It meant that they would soon be headed back down the mountain where they would encounter more of what they had seen for the past three years.
They would come upon the sick and the insane whom Jesus would touch and make well.