Summary: If you have ever had a Mountain Top Experience – you have the tendency to want to stay right there. You want to park right there and stay on the Mountain Top.
TITLE: YOU CAN’T PARK HERE
SCRIPTURE: ST. MATTHEW 17:1-8
We attended the State Congress of Christian Education in Tulsa two weeks ago. The classes were very good and the Congress hotel was located downtown, which was very nice as well. As you find in most downtown City hotels the on-site parking was rather limited. If you returned to the hotel too late in the evenings the on-site parking which was gated was full and you had to park out on the city streets. We were fortunate to park on the hotel property until the final evening of our stay. When we arrived rather late after meeting and having dinner and fellowship with a few of the Pastors and wives, we returned to the hotel and the lot, which was gated, was full.
On that last evening of our stay we had to park our vehicle out on the street. We noted a sign on the street which said – no parking between 8 AM – 5 PM.
• Indicates certain hours you can park
• At a certain time you had to move your vehicle
• We could park there temporarily between certain hours
• Between 8-5 it is understood – You Can’t Park Here
• If you were found parked during those hours it was understood your vehicle would be “Towed Away”
If the sign had not been there on the street – many would park their vehicle there all day long which would bring its own set of problems through the busy work day. I began to think to myself my Brothers and Sisters, this is also true in our daily lives. If we are not careful we have the tendency to want to stay or park if you will in the wrong place. Some have been parked so long your spirituality has been towed away. I have a simple message for us this morning – You Can’t Park Here.
In our text we find the disciples of Jesus trying to camp out and park. Jesus had less than a week before pointedly revealing to his disciples that He was the Christ! And He immediately started to tell them what that meant –
• That He would go to Jerusalem
• That He would Suffer
• That He would Die
With these words hanging in the air for the past 6 days, the very next thing the Gospel writers detail is the TRANSFIGURATION. In those six days, we can only wonder what ran through those disciples' minds.
• Was the truth about Jesus starting to sink in?
• That he was a suffering Messiah
• Not a triumphant conqueror?
• Were they perhaps becoming doubtful about him?
• What's this crazy talk about death and resurrection, anyway?
• And what did He mean by they will see him coming in His Kingdom?
Every time I read this text it absolutely blows me away. Every time I read it I can’t help but get that ‘WOW’ feeling. I wish everyone could have that WOW experience when reading and studying the Word of God.
I am reminded of a television show that aired on CBS from 1988-1998. The show stared Candice Bergen. The Television SITCOM was called - “MURPHY BROWN”
I recall one particular episode in which for some reason she asks the staff about their thoughts or feelings about God. There were different responses from different characters – one was an agnostic, one was a Baptist, and so on. But the response of the character Jim stands out. He said he was a Presbyterian and went to church every Sunday with his wife. He said something on the order of --- “I HAVEN’T HAD ANY EXPERIENCE OF GOD. I GO BECAUSE IT IS OBVIOUS TO ME THAT THE PEOPLE WHO ATTEND ARE EXPERIENCING GOD, AND I AM HOPING THAT ONE DAY I WILL TOO.” I wonder how many real-life “Jims” there are in our pews waiting -- waiting for that experience.
This text contains such an Experience - one of the most important, yet one of the least understood parts of the Gospel. To me it encapsulates the essence of Christ’s ministry on earth. The Transfiguration is a pivotal moment, and the setting on the mountain is presented as the point where –
• Human nature meets God
• The meeting place for the Temporal and the Eternal
• With Jesus himself as the connecting point
• Acting as the bridge between Heaven and Earth
This particular day outlined in our text starts off ordinary enough. It must be a critical event for us to understand since Matthew – Mark – Luke all write about it in their Gospels.
• Jesus and his three closest friends – Peter, James, and John – go up on a high mountain
• Nothing unusual