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Summary: Mountain top experiences are for a reason. They are not just moments of Epiphany or pleasure; they can be painful, as they change lives. So be careful as to who guides you through.

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Title: The transfiguration of a mountaintop experience.

Words: 1783

Tabs: Epiphany 7, Mountain, Transfiguration,

2 Kings 2:1-12 Psalm 50:1-6 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 Mark 9:2-9

Summary: Mountain top experiences are for a reason. They are not just moments of Epiphany or pleasure; they can be painful, as they change lives. So be careful as to who guides you through.

This sermon was delivered to the congregation in St Oswald’s,

in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 19th February 2012.

(A Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).

Introduction.

In the gospel according to Mark, we have a very familiar passage, and although it is short, it has plenty of meaning. Today I will look at it in its simplest form; being set on a mountain top (possibly Mount Tabor), where Jesus literally transformed himself to meet with both Moses and Elijah.

Now mountain top scenes are rare in the Bible; but all of them are very powerful.

The first mountain top scene we read is the one where Abraham takes Isaac: his only “beloved son”; the one promised by God, to be sacrificed so that God could fulfil His covenant with Abraham. Fortunately God intervened and Isaac was spared.

The second mountain top scene is where Moses is on Mt. Sinai directly after the crossing of the Red Sea to escape the Egyptian army, leaving the newly freed Israelites at the bottom of the mountain.

This mountain is also covered in a thick cloud, and it is here the Lord spoke to Moses and six days later he descended the mountain and delivered the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel.

It is also worth noting that years later when Moses died, God said Deuteronomy 18:15 that “He would raise up for the people another prophet who would, like Moses, hear the voice of God and teach it to the people. … And when that prophet comes, listen to him”.

The third mountain top scene is the one in 1Kings 19:16 where the great prophet Elijah was desperately seeking God. If you remember Elijah looked for God in a strong wind, then in an earthquake; then in a fire; but found God in a still small voice; who gave him instructions to anoint Hazael to be king over Syria.

Can you here the similarities into today’s Gospel: the six days; the cloud; the voice; the beloved son; the command to listen to him. They all come together, along with presence of Moses and Elijah.

Jesus is transfigured

Now the passages says that “Jesus took with him Peter and James and John” … that means he left the others at the base … ”And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them”. Jesus glowed, his face like the sun such as no one on earth had seen, interestingly … like Moses when he delivered the Ten Commandments, his face too was transformed. This is not just something out of this world, and that is exactly what this story tries to convey.

And if that is not out of this world enough for you, then two of faith's most honoured heroes suddenly appear: Moses, the great law-giver; and Elijah, the great prophet; giving us both the Law and the Prophets, communing with Jesus himself. Does this sounds familiar?

Peter, James, and John are terrified

This is both literally and figuratively a "mountain-top experience"; and Peter, James, and John are terrified in that presence of God’s glory.

However a little terror never stopped Peter from speaking up; and he suggests erecting three shrines or tents to commemorate the event! But Jesus dissuades him.

But then “a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!"

God is saying “Jesus is my fulfilment of the covenant with Abraham. He is the one whose voice we must hear; and He is the one who speaks with authority.”

Listen to Jesus

Listening to Jesus is not a suggestion; it is a direct command from God.

We were baptized because Jesus said, “Go into all the world and make disciples … baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (Matt 28:18-20)

Later we will celebrate Holy Communion because Jesus said, “Do this, in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)

These two examples, baptism and Holy Communion are religious duties that our Lord told us to do; but that is not all he commanded us to do.

Jesus also tells us in Matthew 28 to leave the mountain top and go into “the world and make disciples of all peoples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” We are disciples of Jesus Christ, and as such we listen to him as he defines us and sets our agenda; for He is our Lord above everything.

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