Summary: God is with us on the mountain and in the valley of our lives.
Up on the Mountain or Down in the Valley
February 25, 2001
The re-release of the Star Wars movies a few years ago created quite a stir among
movie goers all across the country. When those movies were first released about
20 years ago, those of us who went to see them were amazed at the special effects.
CP30 and R2D2 were hits with us all. But there was more to the movies than just the special effects. They also had a story and a theme that captured our imaginations.
Over the years the technology has changed, and now the movies are more like
what their creator, Stephen Speilberg had hoped they would be when he first filmed them. The special effects are 100 times better, and the story and the theme are just as captivating today as it was 20 years ago.
When it comes to special effects and wonderful displays of power and glory, everything that humanity can do has to take a back seat to what God can do. Our Scripture reading from Luke this morning gives us some insights into the power of God. We can only imagine what it must have been like for Peter, James and John to be on that mountaintop and to see Jesus changed before their very eyes as he stood there talking with Moses and Elijah. This scene is far more powerful and spectacular than the special effects of any movie out there.
But even more important than the visual effects which Peter, James and John saw on the mountain top that day is the message that God communicated to those disciples about Jesus. There are three things we can take from this text. First, this passage is a testimony of who Jesus is. God’s voice calls out from the cloud that surrounded them on top of that mountain saying, “This is my son whom I have chosen. Listen to him.” We remember God said a similar thing about Jesus at his baptism. “This is my son, whom I love.”
The second thing this text does is tell us of the preparation of Jesus’ death. Luke tells us that Moses and Elijah appear and “… spoke about his departure, which he was to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.” This sets the stage for what will happen in the days ahead as Jesus begins his walk towards the cross in Jerusalem.
Finally, this portion of Scripture also gives us a glimpse of Jesus’ Eternal Glory. We are told, “As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightening.” Jesus was transfigured on top of that mountain right in front of Peter, John and James. What Peter, John and James witnessed on top of the mountain of transfiguration was a miracle.
This miracle of Moses and Elijah appearing on the mountain top and Jesus being transfigured, was a testimony to the fact that Jesus was truly the Son of God, just as most of the miracles that Jesus performed were used to convince others of his Divine authority. The account of the transfiguration is perhaps one of the greatest of God’s miracles and we can learn a great deal from it. However, today it is all too common for people to dismiss or explain away miracles. We are told that modern scientifically trained people can no longer accept the miracles of the Bible as factual accounts of something that really happened.
There are those out there who insist that any modern intelligent Christian has to give up the notion that Jesus healed ten lepers with the power of His word, that he fed thousands of people out of one lunch box, that he stopped the storms of a raging sea, that he enabled the lame to walk, the dumb to talk and the blind to see. We are told that we should regard these events as mere stories or myths. To that I say HOGWASH! BALDERDASH! POPPYCOCK ! I wonder if Jeffrey’s mother, (the boy who was seriously ill and near death last week with meningitis, and today has fully recovered,) will tell you there is no such thing as miracles. Miracles happen just as surely as you and I are sitting here today! Miracles happen just as surely as you and I will continue to pay taxes until we die, and just as surely as one day Christ will come again.
I will admit that it takes a lot of faith to believe in the miracles of the Bible. But I believe the problem today is that too many people can’t muster up enough faith to believe in the miracles. It’s a lot easier to think these miracles never really happened than it is to have the faith it takes to believe in them. I once had a business associate who would often ask me if I really believed all that “miracle garbage” as he called it and “foolishness” of the Bible.