Summary: Anniversary Sunday. There is much to be honoured in our past, but we must always keep our eyes on Jesus.
Apprenticing Under The Master (for 95 years! – Anniversary Sunday)
February 12, 2006
The Transfiguration – “No One Except Jesus”
This church began as a prayer meeting in a house on Ellis Ave in 1908. On February 12th in 1911 Swansea Baptist Church had its first Sunday service– the average attendance was 12 people to a service.
We have much to honour and celebrate in our 95 years of history, there are a few things that we have repented from, and we may find some more, but there is much to rejoice in.
I’m not going to give an overview of the church history today – we did that in November as part of the visioning process, but today we are going to return to the Gospel of Mark as a way to learn how we should view our history, and how we should move into the future as a church.
Jesus takes the inner circle of the twelve with him up the mountain. I’m always amazed at the quietness of Jesus. If I was trying to start a new religion, and I was going to be transfigured into my heavenly glory and meet with Moses and Elijah, I think I would do it at the temple in front of thousands – just to make a big splash! But Jesus take his three closest friends up the mountain with him. Peter was likely the source of Mark’s account in the Gospel: he relates the experience himself in his 2nd letter to the churches when he says “For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came from the Majesty Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” 2 Peter 1:16-18
James died without writing anything (Acts 12:2), John doesn’t relate this story in his gospel or letter, except to say: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” – John 1:14
Mark tries to describe what happened to Jesus – his clothes shone whiter than they had ever seen clothes before, and Moses and Elijah showed up.
Moses is the man that God used to redeem the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. He is the author of the first five books of the Bible and the giver of God’s law to the people. Elijah was one of the great prophets of God’s people – you can find his stories in the book of 1 Kings 17 – 2 Kings 2
So representatives of the Law and the Prophets have come to speak with Jesus!
Mark doesn’t tell us what they are discussing, but Luke tells us that they spoke about Jesus’ departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. They were talking about the cross.
Peter sees this wondrous sight, and he blurts out, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah!” I love the line that qualifies what Peter says: “He did not know what to say.” “I didn’t know what to say, so I said this…”
Peter should have abided by that old saying “It is better to remain silent and to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”
It is actually difficult to figure out just what Peter was getting at.(I’m not sure that he knew what he was getting at!) The word that he uses that is translated “shelters” could be simple tents, or tabernacles, or others have translated it as “shrines” or “memorials”
If Peter wanted to show some form of religious honor to all three, but building a little shrine, God the Father has something to say about it. A cloud envelops the men, just like the cloud that enveloped the mountain when God gave Moses the 10 commandments. A voice comes out of the cloud that says, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
The next minute the disciples were looking around, rubbing their eyes, seeing nothing but Jesus, only Jesus.
I think that Peter was right to want to honour Moses and Elijah – they were representatives of the Law of God and the Prophets of God – both amazing men of God. The problem was that Peter put Jesus on the same level as the others. He might have been thinking that he was really showing his master honour, even flattering him, by placing him on a level with Moses and Elijah, but the truth is that he is far and above these two. They were servants of God, Jesus is the Son of God!