Summary: The Apostle Peter shares with us what he learned on the Mt. of Transfiguration.
It’s that time of year again. Time to leave, or at least dream about leaving the snow behind and heading somewhere warm for a week or two. If you’re fortunate to take the trip down to Texas or Arizona, you’re in for long drive because those states aren’t exactly our next-door neighbors. What will keep you going on the long road-trip are the tourism billboards you’ll see between here and your destination. Just when you think you’re going to go mad if you have to spend another hour in the car, a billboard with a beautiful picture of Padre Island or of a cacti-surrounded Arizona golf course will pop up along the highway. Although these billboards won’t make your drive any shorter, they will give you the incentive to keep on trucking through states like Wyoming.
Jesus’ transfiguration is not unlike those tourism billboards. The Transfiguration gives us a glimpse of something better to come and it helps us keep on truckin’ to our heavenly destination. To explain further I’ve invited Peter to speak to you this morning. No, not our Peter, the Apostle Peter. His talk is entitled: “Transfiguration Revelations: What I Learned On That Sacred Mountain.”
Thank you and good morning! It’s a privilege to speak with you 21st Century Christians. Wow! The 21st Century! Has it really been that long since the Transfiguration? Although the Transfiguration may seem like ancient history to you, what happened on that mountain two thousand years ago is still meant to be comforting and encouraging for Christians like you. So let me share with you what I learned on that sacred mountain.
Let me begin by saying what I won’t tell you this morning. I won’t tell you where the Transfiguration took place. I’m afraid if I told people what mountain we were on when Jesus’ was transfigured, they would turn that spot into a shrine! Anyway, what’s more important then knowing where the Transfiguration took place is when it happened. Does anyone know how long before Jesus’ crucifixion the Transfiguration took place? It took place just six months before Jesus died on the cross.
Of course at the time I didn’t know Jesus would so soon be crucified. I mean I knew about the crucifixion. Heavens knows how many times Jesus told us about it. But we disciples just didn’t want to believe it. We had seen Jesus feed and heal people. We had observed him calm storms. We had witnessed him raise the dead! Why should a person like that have to die when he could do so much more good alive? At least that’s what we all thought and I even told Jesus that once.
I think that’s why Jesus made sure to bring me along that day, for the Transfiguration would reveal (again) his purpose in coming to this world. Besides me, Jesus invited James and John along for the trek up that mountain and when we were far away from the crowds and the other disciples, Jesus stopped to pray. Now whenever Jesus prayed in a secluded place you knew you were in for a wait. So James, John, and I sat down and before long we dozed off. We were awakened when we heard voices. We thought that maybe the rest of the disciples had caught up with us but when we opened our eyes we were almost blinded by a piercing light. The source of that light was Jesus. Jesus’ clothes, previously dusty and stained from the trek up the mountain, were white - whiter than any bleach could make them. Actually they were more than white; they shone with the intensity of a lightning flash! Then there was Jesus’ face. It was as bright as the noonday sun! This was the first Transfiguration revelation. From his appearance I learned (again) that Jesus was no weakling. Sure he would look pathetic six months later when he hung on the cross all bruised and bloodied, but I knew Jesus could have avoided all that because the Transfiguration revealed Jesus to be the glorious God of the universe.
So why did Jesus put up with a horrible death if he was so glorious and so mighty? That was a question I had struggled with but another Transfiguration revelation provided the answer. Remember I said that we were initially awakened by voices? Well those voices weren’t the other disciples as we first thought. The voices belonged to Moses and Elijah. Yes! Those two Old Testament prophets were there in the flesh. They were speaking to Jesus about his “departure.” I know that’s how your NIV Bible translates it but Luke literally and correctly reports that they were talking to Jesus about his “exodus.” I like that word so much better because it describes what Jesus had come to do. Just as God had used Moses to lead the Israelites out of the bondage of slavery in Egypt in the first exodus, God the Father was going to use Jesus to lead the world out of the bondage of sin in the second, more important exodus.