Pastor Don Sutton
28) About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29) As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30) Two men, Moses and Elijah, 31) appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32) Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33) As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.) 34)While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35) A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” 36) When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.
In April of 2000 CBS aired a movie about a dysfunctional family with a control-freak father who insists that his wife and his three teenaged daughters accompany him on a weekend trip to the mountains. Flying in their private plane, they crash in a remote mountain area. With the dad barely surviving the disaster, it is up to the mom and the kids to take charge of the situation. Huddling in a tumbledown cabin, the family struggles to survive the elements–and an avalanche– forgetting their differences and working together as a team. The fact that they succeed in doing so and survive, results in the title -Miracle on a Mountain.
Today, however, we don’t depend on CBS for a plot. We look to passages from Luke 9 recounting the Transfiguration of Jesus – truly A Miracle on a Mountain. Then and there … Jesus is glorified
…. Moses and Elijah appear …. God the Father speaks.
1. Jesus is glorified
A.) In the Transfiguration Jesus is glorified. Luke reports, “28) About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29) As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” Matthew reports that Jesus face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light. What an overwhelming sight that must have been! One minute Jesus looked the way he always looked. The next minute he looks entirely different, not reflecting a light from somewhere else, but radiating a light from within himself. The divine was shining through the human. The Son of God was manifesting himself through the son of Mary. The form of the servant was pulled aside and God was glowing through.
B1) Even though the glory of God is being revealed on that mountain we are told, “Peter and his companions were very sleepy.” But Luke continues, “But when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33) As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ (He did not know what he was saying.)” Peter is so overwhelmed by this glimpse of glory, he wanted time to stop. He wanted to preserve this marvelous moment and to continue to behold this glory.
2) Doesn’t this miracle tell us something about the glory that awaits us in eternity? It is grand and it is glorious. There is much about what awaits us in eternity that we don’t know. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor 2:9).” Things will not be the same there as here. John wrote in revelation, “The old order of things will be remembered no more.” Our bodies will not be the same. Paul emphasized this to the Philippians, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Paul emphasized to the Romans, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
When things look down, keep in mind what is ahead. When you feel defeated, remember the glory that awaits you in eternity.
We are reminded of this as we see Jesus glorified – a miracle on a mountain.
2. Moses & Elijah Appear
A1) This miracle wasn’t the only miracle on a mountain -“Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus.” These two had lived and left the earth long before this mountaintop experience. Moses had died and had been buried east of the Jordan River 14 centuries before. Elijah, without dying, had been taken to heaven in a whirlwind accompanied by chariots of fire. Both Moses and Elijah had had mountaintop experiences before. On Mt. Sinai God had called Moses to serve him and on the same mountain God gave Moses his law. On Mt. Carmel Elijah defended God’s law he showed down the prophets of the false god Baal. In Moses and Elijah we have the “law and the prophets” represented. It is as if God is saying, “You see, the whole Old Testament ultimately points ahead to Jesus and the fact that he is the Messiah who would save all people.”
B1) Jesus Moses and Elijah discussed this. Luke recorded, “They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.” This departure, literally “exodus,” was a reference to his suffering and death. Eight days before this Jesus had told his disciples, The Son of man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day rise again (Lk. 9:22).”
2) As the Old Testament prophecies foretold, and Moses and Elijah knew, Jesus had to die for the sins of the world. That was why Jesus came to this world – to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. If he didn’t do this, he couldn’t return to glory. If he didn’t do this, we would have no hope of eternal glory.
3) We would forever be excluded from the glory of God and consigned to an eternity of grief with the devil. The sinfulness with which we are born would bring this consequence because as Paul wrote, “We were by nature objects of wrath (Eph 2:3).” In addition, one sin makes us deserving of this same consequence. James wrote, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” One withheld worship of God, one misspent dime, one tweet when you should be paying attention, one wasted moment – one sin – that’s all it takes to make us unworthy of God. Through Paul, God reminds us, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”
4) But through the same apostle God assures us, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree (Gal 3:13).” Christ went to that cross. He hung on that tree. He went from the miracles on the mountain to experience what it is like to be in the depths of hell as he was separated from his heavenly Father when he cried out in grief, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” He suffered the grief you and I should suffer. He died the death we should die – not only physical but eternal. Now, as Isaiah wrote, “By his wounds we are healed (Is 53).” As a result we are forgiven and the crown of life awaits us.
It’s a miracle and amazing that the Son of God would do this. It was also a miracle that Moses and Elijah appeared on that mountain to discuss Jesus’ departure via the cross, then the tomb, from the tomb to the skies to glory at the right hand of God the Father.
3. God the Father Speaks
A) The third miracle on the mountain was God the Father speaking about his Son. Knowing what his Son will go through and knowing how the disciples will be tempted to question the identity of Jesus as he experiences his passion, God assures Jesus of his love. “While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” It’s as if God is saying, “Son, be assured that as you experience all kinds of grief, you are my chosen one.” Or, “My sons, as you see my Son suffering and dying, he’s the Messiah and this is part of the plan.”
B) As we go through the grief of time because of the effects of sin, God is with us to help us endure. God reminds us concerning those troubles, “These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1Pe 1:7).” God assures us, “My grace is sufficient for you, my strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Co12:9).” “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express (Ro8:26).”
C1) But when God the Father spoke, he said of his Son, “Listen to him.” As Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of the world, he is also the source of truth, peace, joy and purpose. In a time when people are listening to voices from everywhere – the media, the ministers of false teaching, and the masters of humanism, materialism and hedonism – they are hearing messages that make messes of lives. If these messages we hear and take to heart, messes are what we will have in our lives.
2) What we need is to listen to Jesus. He tells us that life not about seeking treasures here that last only a while, but on having treasure in heaven that last for eternity. Jesus tells us that life is not about making a name for ourselves, but for making his name known among the nations. Life is not about the pursuit of pleasure, but taking pleasure in pursuing a Godly life to God’s glory. Jesus tells us that what is godly is good and what is ungodly is bad. He assures us Christians that even when in weakness and ignorance we have been bad, because of him God sees us as being good and loves us. Jesus tells us that even when we feel all alone, we are never really along – he’s with us. Jesus says that when we think we can’t, we can because with him all things are possible. Jesus says that even though we die, yet shall we live.
Listen to Jesus and enjoy his love. Listen to Jesus and have peace. Listen to Jesus and have joy. Listen to Jesus and have light. Listen to Jesus and live.