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Summary: A challenge to follow Jesus.

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Matthew 17:1-9

“Shall We go Hiking?”

By: Reverend Kenneth Emerson Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church,

Newport News, VA

A colleage of mine told me this week about his experience at Mount Tabor, the place that

many believe the Transfiguration took place.

He told me that it is a very steep mountain, and it takes a lot of work to get to the top.

But this is where Peter, James and John followed Jesus.

It must have been 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?

They 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 mow the

lawn, or visit relatives....

....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!

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!

In the Epistle lesson for today that Virginia read Peter testifies about this experience.

He says that he was an “eyewitness” to the “majesty” of the “power” of “Our Lord Jesus

Christ.”

“For he (Jesus) recieved 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!

And because of this experience Peter is able to say with confidence: “so 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!

What we’ve heard about God through other people, through reading the Bible, through

going to church becomes real for us as our faith is confirmed through seeing for ourselves that

Jesus Christ is truly the Beloved Son of God the Father in whom God is well pleased!

And through this experience, our lives can’t help but be changed for the better--forever!

It’s not a myth proclaims Peter....I’ve seen it for myself!

How many of us can say that with confidence this morning?

In verse two of our Gospel lesson it says that Jesus was “transfigured” before the three

disciples.

The word which is translated as “transfigured” in Matthew is the same word which is

found in Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18 which means to be “transformed.”

Therefore, on the mountain, Jesus was transformed and His true nature was disclosed.

And what is the true nature of Christ? It is that He is God...One with the Father and the

Holy Spirit....who came to earth in human form.

And therefore, when we experience Christ we too are transformed “into His likeness

with ever-increasing glory.”

And every time we step into the church, every time we open our Bibles, every time we

get on our knees to pray, every time we tell others about the incredible story of Christ, everytime

we invite someone to come to church....we find our lives changing and changing as we come

closer and closer to God....as we become more and more transformed into the likeness of

Christ.

I know a young girl, who, one summer was invited to go to a Christian camp.

When she returned to our church she was a completly different person.

Here face shown with the glory of Christ...you couldn’t help but see it!

She was so excited about Jesus that she started reading the Bible every chance she got.

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