Summary: Theme: Christ's Transfiguration Proposition: Luke shares with us the importance of 1. Prayer (individual and corporate) 2. Christ's True Mission of Salvation 3. True Discipleship - LISTEN TO HIM!
Theme: Christ's Transfiguration
Proposition: Luke shares with us the importance of 1. Prayer 2. Christ's Mission and 3. Our Call to Discipleship
Grace and peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son who came to take away the sin of the world!
Today is Transfiguration Sunday and the last Sunday of the season of Epiphany. Beginning this Wednesday night with Ash Wednesday we enter into the season of Lent. Then in just a few short weeks we will once again be celebrating Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.
Passages like the one we find in Luke 9:28-36 can be rather difficult to preach. It's a very familiar passage for most of us and yet, one that is difficult to bring into our contemporary setting. After all, how many of our prayer meetings have ended with a transfiguration? How many of our prayer meetings have experienced a visit by Moses and Elijah? How many of them have experienced Jesus in His full glory and heard the voice of His Heavenly Father? What Luke writes here is otherworldly. It's a passage that is full of awe, wonder and worship.
That does not mean however, that we cannot glean some deep spiritual truths from this passage and others like it.1 By no means. Nor should we avoid them. It just means that we must "hold them ... in their full extraordinariness rather than reduce them to fit the contours of our experiences."2
With that in mind, let's look at this passage for some spiritual truths that it does share.
I. The Transfiguration Story shares with us the Primacy of Prayer
St. Luke was a prayer warrior. He believed in prayer and wrote a great deal about prayer. He wanted to teach his readers how to pray. He wanted them to understand the importance of the spiritual discipline of prayer in their individual and corporate lives. He takes great care in sharing with us the importance of prayer in the life of Jesus. Luke was a man of prayer and it shows through his writings.
So, we should not be surprised at the importance that prayer plays in our passage. The whole reason for Jesus inviting Peter, James and John to go up with him to the top of the mountain was to experience a spiritual prayer retreat. They made that incredible journey lasting at least six days to spend time in prayer. In Jesus' day it would have taken about three days of hard mountain climbing to get to pinnacle of Mt. Hermon ( 9, 232 feet). More than likely it was at least a 13 mile walk up the mountain and a 13 mile walk back down the mountain.3 This was no leisurely walk in the park and it was all for a prayer meeting.4
Their goal was to spend some quality time alone with God in both corporate and individual prayer. For Jesus, prayer was a love language he enjoyed with His Heavenly Father. St. Augustine said that "True, whole prayer is nothing but love." Richard Foster speaks of prayer being God's invitation for us to come home. Foster shares that for "Far too long we have been in a far country of noise and hurry and crowds, a country of climb and push and shove, a country of frustration and fear and intimidation." 5 God calls us to come away and spend time with Him. .
Genesis chapters one and two reveal to us that humanity was created to pray; to talk with the LORD. Adam and Eve enjoyed "cool of the day" fellowship with the LORD in which they would "pray"; that is , have deep conversations with the LORD about their day, their adventures, their lives, their dreams and hopes. For Adam and Eve, prayer was as natural as breathing. It still can be in our lives.
Both individual and corporate prayer is highlighted in this passage. Had Jesus simply wanted to get alone with His Heavenly Father, He would not have invited Peter, James and John. Jesus invited them because Jesus wanted them to understand the importance of corporate prayer and experience the power of corporate prayer.
It is true that we are all called to spend time with the LORD alone. It is also true that we are called to spend time with the LORD together as a group of brothers and sisters in the Lord. It is not by accident that the Lord's Prayer begins with "OUR FATHER" rather than "My Father". By its very nature the Lord's prayer is a corporate prayer. It is not by accident that Jesus tells us that God's House is a house of prayer (Isaiah 56:7; Luke 19:46). It is God's intention that when we come together we pray together. It is not by accident that the 120 were praying together in one accord on the day of Pentecost.