“THE ULTIMATE MOUNTAINTOP EXPERIENCE”
Text – LUKE 9:28—36
GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOR.
In his book, FAITH, HOPE, AND HILARITY, Dick Van Dyke talks about the confusion a preacher’s little boy had over some of the teachings of the church. After hearing his father preach on “Justification”, “Sanctification”, and all the other “ations”, he was ready when his Sunday school teacher asked if anyone knew what “procrastination” means. “I’m not sure what it means,” he quickly replied, “but I know our church believes in it.”
This morning, we have yet another of those “ations” to talk about — “Transfiguration” — “The Transfiguration Of Our Lord Jesus Christ".
The disciples had been with Jesus long enough to know He is The Christ – The One anointed by God to bring about our Salvation. Peter had confessed that Truth barely a week before at Caesarea Philippi. Still as Jesus told him, Peter needed the enlightenment of The Holy Spirit to confess that Truth in pagan Caesarea Philippi.
By the enlightenment of The Holy Spirit, Peter was also able to confess that Jesus is The Son of the Living God – true God and true Man. Peter had a little more trouble with that concept – as did the other disciples as well.
Now eight days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and John and James and went up into the mountain to pray. Jesus constantly went some place to pray. Every major event in Jesus' life as the flesh and blood human Christ was preceded by His going somewhere to pray. This time Jesus took with Him Peter and John and James.
I found Mt. Tabor to be a wonderful place to pray and study God’s Word. Located five miles east of Nazareth and twelve miles west of the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, I could experience God’s Living Word among all those wonderful signs of God’s bountiful Creation in the nature preserve while viewing the sites below where the history of the loving and faithful relationship God has established with us have taken place.
I envy Peter, James, and John who actually spent their time there with Jesus Himself. What a glorious opportunity! Well, actually they slept. Now Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep.
And as Jesus was praying, the appearance of His countenance was altered and His appearance became dazzling white. Since Jesus’ birth in that Bethlehem cave-stable, people had seen The Man Jesus — truly a human being like every one of us. Now, on Mt. Tabor, for the only time in those 33 years from birth to crucifixion, Jesus was seen as truly The Son of The Living God. The splendor and grandeur of Jesus’ appearance even extended to His clothes which became dazzling white beyond anything human eyes had seen before or since.
And behold, two men talked with Jesus - Moses and Elijah who appeared in glory and spoke of His departure, which He was to accomplish at Jerusalem. Talk about the opportunity to study God’s Word - God’s great Lawgiver Moses and God’s great prophet Elijah — the Law and the Prophets who had provided the people of God with God’s Living Word and Truth — appeared in their eternal heavenly glory to talk with Jesus about His departure, which He was to accomplish at Jerusalem — talked with Him about His Mission to suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes up to and including His crucifixion and on His third day in the tomb being raised. What a conversation that must have been for those disciples who had such trouble accepting Jesus’ Mission on earth!
While Jesus prayed, as He was transfigured, as He began to talk with Moses and Elijah, Peter and those who were with him were sound asleep.
How much we people miss if we are spiritually asleep when we should be praying or seeking to explore God’s Word and Truth.
How wonderful that God cares so much about us, loves us so much, and is so faithful to us that God keeps coming to us — that God constantly seeks to awaken us from our spiritual slumber.
Peter, James, and John slept — until God graciously awakened them — and when they wakened they saw Jesus’ glory and Moses and Elijah with Him.
They saw for themselves that Mary’s human Son Jesus The Christ is truly The Son of The Living God — true Man, yes, but also true God.
In order for God to conquer our sin, guilt, and death and restore our eternal life and relationship with God, God had to accomplish what only God could but God also had to truly be The human Christ Who lived a perfect human life and, as the Perfect High Priest, offered that life as The Perfect Human Sacrifice - God Who came as the human Christ to suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed for our eternal Salvation - through suffering and death that could only happen to a human being. He had to be True God through all eternity and True Man born of the virgin Mary.
The sights they were seeing - the words they were hearing — it all left James and John totally speechless. What would you or I have said?
Peter could not stand to be speechless. When a situation left others speechless, Peter always said something.
Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is well that we are here.” Why would we want to go to Jerusalem to see You betrayed, suffering and being killed? Why not just stay here? Let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah,” Well, Peter had to say something.
Do we live our faith in Christ to the fullest — in ways which impact on every aspect of our lives — or do we, like Peter on Mt. Tabor, want the comfort of the booths — permanent theatre pews from which to watch the on-going drama of Christ’s work on earth … a compartmentalized life with a Sunday booth in the shade of Christian worship and nary a thought of our faith impacting upon life outside in the world?
Jesus didn't answer Peter's suggestion about the booths. As Peter spoke, a cloud came and overshadowed them. The disciples were afraid as they entered the cloud. Now anyone who has spent any time on a mountain knows how a person can get caught up in the clouds — but there in the midst of the Transfiguration and everything else that was happening, there was something otherworldly about this cloud.
And a Voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen; listen to Him!” My Son – true God coming to dwell among people as never before - My Chosen – true Human Christ-Savior of all humanity. That’s the Truth that makes us truly free spoken by God Himself.
As God The Father had done at Jesus’ Baptism, He again testified to Jesus’ true Identity as God Himself among us as The vulnerable flesh and blood Christ. And this time God added the admonition, “Listen to Him! Listen to what He tells you about The Divine Plan of Salvation — Listen when He tells you The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed (crucified), and on the third day be raised. Listen to Him!”
And when the Voice (Which they knew beyond any doubt to be God’s Own Voice) had spoken, Jesus was found alone. Peter, James, and John kept silence and told no one in those days (before Jesus’ crucifixion and Resurrection) anything of what they had seen.
What powerful testimony we heard from in our Second Lesson from Peter himself where he reported, “... we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the Power and Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we ourselves were eyewitnesses of His Majesty. For He received from God the Father Honor and Glory when such a Voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” (2 PETER 1:16-21) True God through all eternity – true Man born of the virgin Mary – guaranteeing our eternal relationship with God.
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS — OUR TRUE GOD, TRUE MAN CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOUR TO SAVE US. AMEN.
THE TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD
March 3, 2019
Dr. Kurt Borows
Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Ohio