Summary: There is no equal to Jesus, the Son of the living God.

Title: Jesus is Big!

Text: Matthew 17:1-9

Thesis: There is no one equal to Jesus, the Son of the living God.

Epiphany series: Encountering Christ in Epiphany

The last Sunday in Epiphany and it is known as Transfiguration Sunday.

At Christ’s transfiguration God, once again as at his Baptism, makes Christ known as “the Son of God” and instructs his followers to “listen to him.”


In 1998 Bonnie and I attended a Franklin-Covey management seminar. It was one of the most energizing and challenging experiences of my life. They gave me my own personal Franklin Planner and taught me how to use it. They inspired me with anecdote after anecdote and sent me home clutching my Franklin Planner with all the enthusiasm that Moses must have felt when he came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments tucked under his arm.

But when I got home there were no riveting instructional moments. There was no hyped up representative from Franklin-Covey to inspire me. It was just me and my planner. And I had to learn how to begin each day with solitude and planning. I had to learn to prioritize my daily tasks. I had to learn to plan my work and then work my plan. And I learned that eventually I had to complete the tasks at hand.

I got all jazzed up at the mountain-top Franklin-Covey Seminar but it was down in the valley where the rubber met the road and it was down in the valley that I put into practice what I had gleaned on the mountain-top.

Our text today is a similar scenario… Jesus and his disciples are on the mountain-top where they have an extraordinary experience but that experience is relatively short-lived and Jesus and his followers soon find themselves back in the valley where life happens.

When we have an extraordinary experience we may think of that experience as a mountain-top experience.

I. When we get a glimpse of God’s glory, we think of it as a mountain-top experience.

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John and led them up a high mountain by themselves to pray. Matthew 17:1 and Luke 9:28

Three things happened that made this a remarkable event. The first thing that happened as Jesus was praying:

A. Jesus was transfigured.

As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed. His face shone like the sun and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Matthew 17:2 and Luke 9:29

I’ve officiated a lot of weddings over the years and I often hear those in attendance comment on the radiance and beauty of the bride. Some say that a pregnant woman has a certain glow about her. I’ve observed parents in a moment of joy beaming with pride over the accomplishments of their children. People radiate. People glow. People beam. We understand the concept of someone have an aura about themselves. We’ve seen film makers use special effects to create a nimbus effect or radiance about a person to create a sense of glory.

It was not just a beaming or a glowing that the disciples observed. What they saw as a divinely given special effect that caused the face of Jesus to shine like the sun and his clothing to be as bright as a flash of lightning. What the disciples saw was supernatural… it was not the norm. It was extraordinary.

The second thing that happened:

B. Jesus talked with Moses and Elijah about his departure.

Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment in Jerusalem. Matthew 17:3 and Luke 9:30-31

I don’t know if Moses and Elijah were wearing name tags but the disciples knew who they were.

The way Jesus looked was not the norm and the vision of Jesus talking to two guys long dead was not the norm. It would be like seeing President Obama having a chat with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. And it would be like listening in on their conversation.

When I was growing up there were several in my family who were in the military. Uncle Al was in the Air Force. My cousin Darlene was married to Don, who was in the United States Navy. My cousin Leroy, who was Darlene’s brother, was also in the Navy. My cousin Gary enlisted in the Marine Corp when he graduated from high school, as did his younger brother Craig when he was old enough.

In those days both my mother’s and father’s sides of the family lived in central and south central Iowa. Large family dinners were commonplace and whenever anyone was home on furlough from the military there was a family potluck dinner hosted by the parents of the service person who was on leave.

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