Mountain and Valleys

Transfiguration Sunday


Speaker M. Noorhoff


Last month we started the new year by celebrating the Epiphany
|the manifestation of God. We saw how the three kings represents all the people of earth through the sons of Noah and how they came to serve not only the prophesized king of Israel but the King of Kings and the Lord of lords. Through their example we learn to be servants to the Lord to serve Him and to serve others. To do this we keep our eyes on the light which is Jesus letting Him alone lead us. We also talked about the second Sunday in January or the second Sunday of the Epiphany celebrating the baptism of Christ in the Jordan.

Mark 1:10

10  As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.
11  And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

With this the ministry of Christ began. But what an amazing sight it must have been and how those words of God must have rung in the ears of all that heard. gThis is my Sonh  Would you not want to follow this Jesus. This is truly were he takes on his role as Christ. But we all know that immediately after this great revelation of who Jesus was  he was sent in the desert to suffer the temptation. For 40 day he fasted and was tempted but remained perfect and free of sin(selfishness)  I want you to remember this as we speak today on the last week of the Epiphany a day usually referred to as Transfiguration Sunday. One this day we remember Jesus on the mountain shining in all his glory with Moses and Elijah standing with him. And Peter James and John are left looking dumbfounded and in awe. This is the day we remember who Christ is in all His Glory. Not only that, it is a day we see ourselves in the future for we too are to be transformed, transfigured in the great resurrection.

2 Corinthians 3:18

18  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Rev 3

3  Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

4  Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.

5  He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.

6  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

We spoke of this as well in the last sermon as we talked about the Mirror of Erised; a magic mirror that is said to show us that which our deepest desire for ourselves. We asked ourselves what we would see?  Has this stuck with you have you been asking yourself what you want to see?, what you should see, and what you think you might actually see?  We studied through the story of the young rich man who asked Jesus how to get to heaven. And the response of Jesus was simple

If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give to the poor and you will have treasure in Heaven, then come follow me.

We read elsewhere in the bible it says

I am the way the truth and the life, only through me can you be save, only through me can you enter heaven.

Again it brings us all back to today transfiguration Sunday. To set the stage just before todayfs passage was one we looked at last year as we approached Easter. It reminded us that no matter what happens to us that we are secure in the resurrection, we are secure in Faith And no matter what if we believe through faith in Christ that like him we to will rise again.

Mark 8:27-9:1

On the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?"

28  They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets."

29  "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ."

30  Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

31  He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.

32  He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

33  But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

34  Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

35  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.

36  What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?

37  Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

38  If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

9:1  And he said to them, "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power."

But as I start this transfiguration Sunday I would like to share the words of a man of great faith that also climbed many mountains and walked through the valley of the shadow@death. Maybe youfll recognize the voice.

Cue Audio

As many of you are aware these are the last public words spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the night before he was martyred in Memphis, Tennessee. "I have been to the mountain top, andcmine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

In today's Gospel lesson, Peter, James and John literally travel to the mountaintop with Jesus. (A little bible study note: whenever Jesus climbs a mountain something really important is about to happen). The same is true in this story. While standing there with Jesus on the mountaintop Peter, James, and John see with their own eyes the glory of the coming of the Lord. Mark writes, "And Jesus was transfigured before them, and his cloths became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And, suddenly there appeared to them Elijah with Moses who were talking with Jesus." What an incredible scene! Peter and James and John see Jesus in all his resurrection glory. They see an image of the kingdom of heaven on earth. Like Dr. King, they see the promise land. So Peter makes a sensible suggestion, he says to Jesus, "Teacher, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." Indeed, it must have been good to be there. I feel certain the three disciples thought that God's reign had begun and Jesus' mission fulfilled. They had seen Jesus heal the sick, cast our demons, proclaim the coming of the kingdom of heaven, and now they had seen Jesus infused with all his divine glory. It was time to set up shop, build a home, live out the rest of eternity in the presence of God's great glory revealed in His transfigured son Jesus Christ. Indeed, it must have been good to be there.

"Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says

Did they not hear it did they not remember the words at the river Jordan

"You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

Before Peter can finish asking Jesus about building the dwelling places a cloud overshadowed them and a voice from heaven, the voice of God Almighty, proclaimed, "This is my son, the beloved; listen to him!" Then, Jesus appears before the disciples no longer transfigured. Moses and Elijah were gone, and they descend the mountain. It must have been good to be on that mountaintop with Jesus. But, here is the sermon I want to preach. No matter how much Peter and James and John wanted to stay on top of that mountain in the in the presence of the Glory of the Lord, they had to come down. Jesus and the disciples had to come down the mountain in order to fulfill their missions and so do we.

Jesus after the baptism went into the desert. Jesus after the transfiguration went to be a sacrifice for our sins

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.

Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated the next day

We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

Have you been to the mountaintop? Have you seen the glory of the Lord? Have you seen the promised land? If so let it be our strength our happiness for after the mountain will come a valley.

There will be valleys Jesys warns us

Matthew 10:22

All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Luke 21 :16-19

16  You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.

17  All men will hate you because of me.

18  But not a hair of your head will perish.

19  By standing firm you will gain life.

But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind.

At the Jordan God said to Christ

"You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

On the Mountain God said to us

"This is my son, the beloved; listen to him!"

It is as simple as that.

If you want to be perfect, come follow me.

Listen to him and follow him

John 10 3-5

3  The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

4  When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

5  But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice."

14  This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

15  When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."

16  Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."

17  The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep.

18  I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."

19  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"

20  Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?")

21  When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?"

22  Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me."

Luke 24

46  He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,

47  and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem

The final words in the gospels are to go out and spread the gospel.

"This is my son, the beloved; listen to him!"

Let us pray