Come Journey With Me Up The Mountain - Matt. 17: 1-9


Transfiguration of our Lord Sunday

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. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, 'Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."

Verse 1: “Six days later (six days after proclaiming his coming death and calling his followers to take up their cross), Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves.”

Come journey with me up this mountain.

Come make the journey, little as you may think you have the strength to climb.

Steep as the road might look,

and failing as your heart may feel.

This valley is so dark. Our teacher, the one we love and follow, has a message we don’t want to hear – a message that promises not joy, and protection, and glory… but rather mourning, and threat, and a cross.

And as we look at our lives, and at our world, it is a message that is all too easy to believe.

We see the pain of sickness, and betrayal, and death.

We see the brokenness of fear, and hatred, and violence.

We see a reality that so desperately needs a powerful, conquering Savior to come and save us from each other and from ourselves…

But instead he calls us to climb a steep and difficult track.

He calls us to follow him, knowing that he walks to his death.

He calls us to strain our protesting lungs, to exercise our atrophied muscles…

in order to climb to a height where we can see farther than the shadows looming around us.

And he calls us to climb together, with those brothers and sisters who will also answer his call.

Verse 2: “And Jesus was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes because dazzling white.”

Come journey with me up this mountain.

Climb up to the place where the light shines brightly,

More brightly than we have ever seen before.

So brightly that our failing, fallen sight is healed

and we can see the Truth!

Come to see the light that shines as brightly as the sun,

But with a HUMAN face!

A face that looks into our eyes

and beams God’s blessing onto all humanity.

Come, even though it seems too good to be true, even though this vision requires our minds also to be transformed.

Our rational minds want to rebel,

We want to point back to his words and say

“you spoke of suffering and death and the cross,

and when we tried to rebuke those words, you rebuked us!”

We want to point back to the valley and say

“look, look at the shadows! Can’t you shine your light down there?”

But the mountain is not a place for us to speak. It is a place for us to see,

to gaze upon the indescribable glory,

and to have our hope restored.

Verse 3: “Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with [Jesus].”

Come journey with me up this mountain.

Come to observe the witnesses who prepared us to recognize this LORD.

Observe the witness of Moses:

The one who lead the people out of slavery

Through plague and through water

against all reasonable human expectations.

The one who climbed the mountain before us

to receive from God the law that teaches us God’s heart

even though we never can fulfill it in our strength.

The one who asked to see the face of God

And was denied

But who stands now with us to see the face of God… as do we… in Christ Jesus.

Observe also the witness of Elijah:

The one who challenged kings

and comforted widows

in obedience to God’s kingdom ways.

The one who climbed the mountain before us

To show beyond a doubt which God is truly God

And to pray for rain to end the killing drought.

The one who ran faster than the chariots through God’s Spirit,

but who also ran in fear for his life,

and whom God still caught up to heaven in glory.

Come to observe the witness of those who have gone before us in the faith.

Those who have done greatly,

those who have failed greatly,

those whose faith we can share.

Verse 4: “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.’”

Come journey with me up this mountain.

Come, even though we don’t quite know what to do there.

Even though the glory is a little overwhelming,

And we might make fools of ourselves.

Even though we are liable to forget that the mountain isn’t really about us,

and we will want to prove that we can be of use,

that we have something to offer the one who needs nothing from us.

Because our fumbling comes from our joy.

On the mountain, we can finally start to see what it means that in this Jesus we have “God With Us.”

And we want him to stay!

We want to make a house for God, and for the people who seem to belong with God,

Because then… maybe… we can belong too.

And belonging here, in this light, is true joy.

Verse 5: “While (Peter) 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!

Come journey with me up this mountain.

Come and hear the voice of God!

The voice that interrupts our efforts to arrange God’s revelation according to our own design.

The voice that repeats the blessing we have heard before – in the waters of Christ’s baptism:

Declaring that this Jesus is God’s child,

and that being God’s child means being beloved.

Declaring that this Jesus –

this Jesus whose words sometimes scare us –

this uncontrollable, challenging Jesus has pleased God!

And come to hear voice say something new: “Listen to him!”

Because we are on the mountain not only to see, but also to hear.

We are here to HEAR that Jesus is the one we are to follow – scary as that is.

Verse 6: “When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear.

Come journey with me up this mountain.

Even though this might be the scariest thing we will ever do!

This journey is about revelation –

Revelation of God’s truth, and ours

A truth that shines so brightly that no hint of deception, or hesitancy, or ego can hide.

On the mountain, we can’t define God or God’s will in terms that we can control,

And that is terrifying…

Because this journey is also about obedience –

It’s about following when Jesus calls us to climb a steep mountain,

And about listening when we want to control the message,

And about bowing to the glory of God that is so, so far beyond us.

But also – this journey is about hope

Verse 7: “But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid.’”

Come journey with me up this mountain.

Because on the mountain we will be touched by God.

When the veil is ripped away, and our eyes can see the glory of the Lord…

When our words falter because the bright cloud has overshadowed us, and we know our own foolishness…

When we fall on your face in holy fear – knowing the truth of our darkness and the perfection of God’s light…

THAT is when we can finally feel God’s hand – reaching out with a gentle touch, calling us out of fear.

Because the hopelessness of our own efforts to save ourselves…

this is GOOD NEWS.

Because THEN we can see Jesus for what he is.

Verse 8: “And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself, alone.

Come journey with me up this mountain.

To see Jesus – alone.

Jesus who alone shines with the glory of God, because he IS God.

Jesus who alone is worthy of the adoration that we so easily give away to those people or things who flatter us, or impress us, or promise us safety.

Jesus who alone can take away our fear,

Because it is Jesus alone who can save us from every final evil and who promises to be with us to the end.

Verse 9: “As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’”

Come journey with me, back down from this mountain.

Journey back to the valley, and the shadows, carrying with us the light that we have seen.

Journey back knowing that we now are witnesses,

Knowing that we too were transformed in the light that shone from the eyes of our Savior, and pierced our hearts.

Knowing that our imperfections do not disqualify us from witnessing to the truth that we have seen with our own eyes.

Knowing that God has commanded us to listen to Jesus, and that means we have a guide in life that we can follow up and down the mountain to eternity.

Knowing that our fear cannot bind us once Christ has touched us and bid us to “get up.”

And knowing, that the silence Jesus commanded was only for a time, and that time has passed.

Christ has been raised from the dead,

And we are all his witnesses.

Witnesses to Light, and to Glory, and Hope, and to JESUS

Forever and ever, AMEN

(In loving memory of Terry Jones, who climbed the mountain on Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, and now has a permanent view of Christ in his Glory).

Recent Posts
Archive
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square

© 2016 by Abiding Peace Lutheran Church.

To request permission to use site content, please contact Abiding Peace Lutheran Church in writing at 305 US Highway 46, Budd Lake, NJ 07828