Much Wisdom and Very Little of My Own
Blame Few; Praise Many

On the Mountain of Transfiguration


Exodus 24:12-18

The LORD said to Moses, "Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction."

So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God.

To the elders he had said, "Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them."

Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain.

The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud.

Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.

Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

Moses, very much a priestly figure who stood between the people in God and represented God to the people and the people to God as a priest, was not able to move them into the messianic age of, uh, a kingdom as a king. And that would come much later with David, and David would take on that figure. But David was also limited David in Psalm two and other places that subscribes God, uh, in terms of, uh, wrath and fire and glory.

But David could not perform the priestly functions. He was some very strong stories about that. For instance, David could not build the temple. So David was the political leader who becomes the picture of a coming kingdom as well, a messianic role, but with limitations. Moses was presumably buried by God. The people did not bury him. David was buried. And at some point people knew where that grave was. Then comes Elijah.

He's the unburied one as well. He goes off into the wilderness and he meets a fiery chariot. He meets the glory of God in a fire. But that fire and that chariot takes him before the very throne of God. Elijah is the figure of the prophetic, uh, tradition. Elijah represents the prophets. He was not a priest, he was not a king. He was a preacher. He would tell fourth the word of the Lord and remind people of the law and point people to God and offer both a message of judgment and of hope.

You have these three figures, uh, David and Elijah and Moses representing prophet priest and messianic king. And then one day, one day, Jesus,  senses the need to take three of his disciples to a mountain. And there on the mountain, he is transfigured before him, before them. And they see Moses and Elijah and Jesus having a conversation. He might ask, well, where's David? Well, David is the, the king, the messianic king, and is represented by Jesus.

Jesus has assumed that role and is bringing together the prophet and the priest as well. And in the Christ event, you have the prophetic, the priestly, and the messianic kingly. The kingdom of God has come together. Of course, Jesus is buried in a borrowed grave, borrowed grave. There was  no need for him to be permanently buried subsequent to all of that. So you find Jesus meeting with two men who were limited in their roles.

Here is a preview of the kingdom of God. Listen to the scripture this morning from Matthew 17, one through nine, six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And while he was transfigured before them and his face shown like the son and his clothes became dazzling white, suddenly there appeared to them, Moses and Elijah talking with him.

Then Peter said to Jesus, it's good for us to be here if you wish. I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah. While he was speaking suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them. And from the cloud, a voice said, this is my son, the beloved with him, I am well. Please listen to him. Listen to him. When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear.

Matthew 17:1-9

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves.And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.

Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.

Then Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!"

When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear.

But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Get up and do not be afraid."

And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

That was an overpowering glory. And the natural reaction of the disciples who saw this great, great cloud and wanted to capture the moment was, don't be afraid. Don't be afraid. They were overcome by fear. But his voice says, don't be afraid. Natural inclination when we meet something greater than ourselves, something overpowering because we're losing our power. That is a false power, a false sense of power. And we realized we're not in control is fear.

But Jesus says, don't be afraid. Get up, rather. And they looked up and then they saw no one but Jesus alone, you see everything else, he'd come together. By then, prophet priest King had come together in Christ, the prophet, the priest, the king, the embodiment of the kingdom of God, the reign of God.

Verse nine says, and they were coming down from the mountain. Jesus ordered them tell no one about the vision until after the son of man has been raised from the dead.

There is a presumption here that the final event of the passion, the resurrection, is the only thing that'll help anybody understand this, make sense of it and carry on what needs to be carried on. Now, there is a time when a little boost is needed and all of the three chosen disciples had experienced, ha had brought them to the place of need of this mountain experience. And they were about to experience something that they needed and that would be in their memories for the rest of their lives.

One asked that Jesus need the moment for what he was about to face. Well, he took the, the men to the mountain of transfiguration and only they would witness this event. We hear about it, they would witness it, they would question it. They would revel in it. They would reflect upon it. And later on, as it began to settle in what had really happened that day, they would tell about it. They would tell the story for the rest of their lives.

Not everybody can get your story of your encounter with God. And sometimes you have to determine when it's the right time to share it. And rather than wearing it on your shoulder, Paul talked about, uh, uh, being, uh, caught up in the heaven lease and yet not even being able to put it into words and not being able to speak about all of it. He referred to it. We only know about this event because those three men were present.

Otherwise we wouldn't know. There were no witnesses other than them. There were three who could verify each other's story. They helped keep the story straight. It was an overwhelming experience. It was probably difficult to put into words. None of us has ever seen anything quite so remarkable. Yet we have some amazing things that God has granted us. The privilege of witnessing, uh, moments of glory. And these spur us on and these inform us.

This puts things into context for us. These help us to understand the teachings that we receive and they prepare us for the work that we are to do in the world of the kingdom of God. We've had memorable God moments, and those moments have fortified us through trials and doubts as the three disciples would later testify and encourage the young church even so where to give our testimonies that encourage us to keep on following Jesus.

What memory comes to your mind today? Uh, that can be a testimony of a time when you saw the glory of God in a memorable, Peter is like the fourth character in all of this because he represents the next generation. He is the apostolic figure. He's a missionary. That's what apostle means. He brings all three traditions, the prophet, the priest in the king, into a missional message to the world through the church, which is the living embodiment in Christian theology of God manifesting his kingdom in the world.

And in II Peter 1 16-21, Peters reflects on the transfiguration. He says,

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."

We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

In other words, Peter is passing on this great moment to us and saying, this is not private. This is not my possession or the other two guys. It's not for us to privately interpret as our own personal revelation from God. This is a confirmation of all that God has revealed. This is for the world. This is for all of you to embrace. And this is like a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

But it's a little flicker of light that lives within us. The reminds us of a day when all shall be light and all shall be bright. It doesn't matter how dark the world gets, as long as that light is shining and that light will shine until the day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts. This is the promise of God. The transfiguration is on our Christian calendar for a reason.

It's there to give us hope. It's there to spur us on. It's there to encourage us, to keep on keeping on, to be in the world, God's prophetic voice to be in the world, a priestly nation, speaking to God for people and speaking to people for God and to be in the world,  a part of the messianic movement that builds God's kingdom and brings to pass justice and righteousness and truth and redemption, and the message of grace and salvation through Jesus Christ.

Introducing people to light who are walking in darkness. Indeed, the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

And now the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and be gracious under you and give you peace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Children's Sermon

Questions for Discussion

When did God take you to a mountain top to show you his majesty?

How did you feel?

What did you learn or what difference has it made in your life?

What have we learned from scripture about how we are to be and what we are to do in the world as representatives of the glory of God in Jesus?