Summary: Events in the Bible that took place on a mountain
Mountain Moving Faith
“Mount of Transfiguration”
Did you hear the story about the little lady who got a job sweeping at Six Flags? She was about 4’10” and only weighed about 90 pounds, so whenever the wind blew, she lost her balance. She complained to her supervisor, so he suggested she put rocks into her pockets; the additional weight would keep her from being blown off balance. She tried it and it worked, but carrying the extra weight made her so tired, she complained to her pastor. He suggested she pray for strength each day. So she tried that. Every morning as she took the rocks to fill her pockets she would pray this prayer: “Now I weigh me down to sweep.” Ouch! In our text, we are going to see Jesus goes up onto a high mountain to pray. In the process of praying, something happens that could be called a preview of a coming attraction.
Let’s skip back and read verse 27. “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Kingdom of God … ” For many years I didn’t connect that verse with the Transfiguration and I thought Jesus was talking about all the disciples (except Judas) seeing the invisible kingdom. But He was talking about the three disciples who were going up onto the mountain with Him—they would literally see the glory of the Kingdom. Look at verse 28-36. In this message we will look at three simple elements of the Transfiguration, and ask three personal questions. We will examine the vision, the visitors, and the voice.
I. THE VISION: HAVE YOU GLIMPSED THE GLORY OF JESUS?
Jesus and His three closest buddies walked to the top and He began to pray. The most significant experiences of His earthly life occurred when He was praying; that ought to teach us something. As He was praying, He was transfigured. The Greek word is the verb metamorphoo. We get our word metamorphosis from it. It means “a change on the outside which comes from within.” When a caterpillar changes into a butterfly, metamorphosis has occurred. Jesus was changed from an ordinary looking man into a figure of light with brilliant beams radiating from his body. The reason His clothes became white was from the light emanating from His body. I can just imagine Simon Peter rubbing his eyes, wondering if he was really seeing what he thought he was seeing.
This is a very important event in Jesus’ life, because it confirms He was not merely a man. He was God in the flesh. For most of His 33 years of human existence, His human flesh obscured and veiled His Deity. But at this time, His true divine nature was revealed. The writer of Hebrews pulls back the veil and lets us know who Jesus really is. “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (Hebrews 1:3) A respected theologian, Dr. Kent Hughes writes in his commentary: “For a brief moment the veil of Jesus’ humanity was lifted and His true essence was allowed to shine through. The glory which was always in the depths of His being rose to the surface for that one time in His earthly life. Or, put another way, He slipped back into eternity to His pre-human glory. It was a glance back and a look forward into His future glory!”
The word “glory” carries with it the idea of glowing brilliance. When the angels visited the shepherds outside Bethlehem, the “glory of the Lord shone all around them.” There is a brilliant light associated with the character and nature of God. There are three Biblical statements summarizing the nature of God. We are told (1) God is holy; (2) God is love; and (3) God is light. Sometimes people refer to the Shekinah glory of God. The word Shekinah is a Hebrew word that never appears in the Bible. However it appears in other Jewish writings, and it literally means, “that which dwells.” It came to be used to describe the glowing presence of the Lord that dwelt between the cherubim covering the Ark of the Covenant. Peter, James and John saw this Shekinah glory in Jesus. Have you glimpsed that glory? What do you think Jesus looks like now? What is your mental image of Him? Do you picture Him as having long brown hair, a beard and loving eyes? That might have been what He looked like in the flesh, but remember, that was only a disguise He wore for 33 years. That picture of Jesus has prevented many folks for seeing Him in all His glory.
There are three true stories about holy images: A few years ago a woman in New Mexico was frying tortillas. One of the tortillas burned and the result was an image that looked like a face; she thought it looked like Jesus. She took the tortilla to her priest and he agreed it looked like Jesus, so he blessed it. The woman and her husband took the blessed tortilla back home and placed it in a box surrounded by cotton to make it appear as if it was floating on air. They built an altar around it and started praying there. Word began to spread about the holy tortilla and soon thousands of people visited their home to pray before the holy tortilla. People are desperate to catch a glimpse of Jesus.