This Sermon was preached on 07/02/16 in a Maximum Security Prison
The passage which this is based on can be found here.
This is, without doubt, my FAVOURITE passage in the whole Bible. The transfiguration. When Jesus is revealed for who he truly is. It’s a clashing of two worlds, the human and the divine. God reveals Jesus as the saviour and comes down in a cloud and speaks to those present. And what does humanity do?
It freaks out!
Just imagine it….
You’ve been following this guy around for 2 maybe 3 years listening to His teachings and helping him do these amazing things like healing the sick and doing exorcisms. It’s amazing stuff, you’ve never seen or heard anything like it. But then He starts talking about the future, all this crazy stuff about the end of the world and the Son of Man and how He has to suffer and die and it’s guna get real hairy, real soon. What does it all mean?
To top it all off now he’s taking you up a mountain. We know of course from the rest of the bible that big things happen on mountain tops, the Jews believed that’s where God lived, Moses went up mountain Sinai to talk to God and get the Ten Commandments. So you know to expect something big.
Probably not quite as big as this though……
This guy who you’ve been following is there praying and then BOOM…… He’s transformed into this dazzling figure, brighter then anything you’ve ever seen, his clothes are whiter then is humanly possible, (even with Daz extra) and standing with him are Moses, the great law giver and founder of your faith, and Elijah, the Prophet who was so holy he was taken up into Heaven without dying.
What happens to the disciples? They cack themselves….. they absolutely freak out.
And rightly so. They knew Jesus was something more then what had come before, but this was a whole new level.
It’s like being a Leicester City supporter and seeing Jamie Vardy go from relative unknown to premier league hero in an instant
Not only that but this unveiling of who Jesus really is is accompanied by descending clouds and God speaking directly to them. The clouds symbolise the presence of God coming down onto the mountain and in Jewish belief seeing God face to face meant instant death. No wonder they were terrified….
That’s why I love this passage so much,
It perfectly captures the human reaction to the Divine. Three men come face to face with God and they bottle it, cowering in fear, grovelling for their lives. Finally one of them feels the need to say something, any thing…. This is first contact got to make a good impression so he blurts out the first thing that comes to mind.
“let’s build you guys some tents so you can live here” – you can just see the look on his face as he hears who stupid he must sound………..
I wonder if we’d act with the same basic humanity.
Like if you were walking down your wing, or on the way to the library or the gym or whatever and you turned a corner and there He was standing there, all shining white…..
What would you do?
What’d you ask him?
I guess I’ve always wanted to know why He didn’t just come out with the simple stuff – Why leave us working out all these riddles and unanswered questions
Of course, these are just hypothetical questions, chances are He’s not really going to appear here in the flesh… (or at least I hope not, I’ve learnt it’s always a bad idea to say never when it comes to God……)
So how can we meet the transfigured Christ then? Or more importantly how can we help others to meet with Him?
I’m going to suggest that WE can be the transfigured Christ and reveal Him to others. Through our actions and our deeds and what we say and what we do, we can show people the Christ, transfigured on the mountain. We can reveal the true glory and nature of Jesus to those around us.
By acting unselfishly, going out of our way to help someone else, offering kind and constructive words. These may sound like simple acts that we, and other people, already do. But by going just that extra bit further then others do we can show that as Christians are service is just that extra bit more.
Just as Jesus is that extra bit more.
And if anybody asks why we’re doing these extra things around the place then maybe we could be brave enough and say it’s because we are following Jesus…. Not because we want to get into Heaven because that’s not what it’s about, but because we want to reveal His Glory in our lives.
But why does it matter? Why do we need to show people the TRANSFIGURED Christ. Why not leave Him as plain old Jesus of Nazarath?
We need to reveal Him this way because the transfigured Christ IS Jesus.
Just as Jesus IS the Transfigured Christ.
The reason the disciples had to be taken up the mountain to see it is because they had failed to grasp who Jesus was all along. He is always transfigured, just as he is always the Son of God. It’s not a light bulb that’s been turned on behind Him, this is intrinsically who He is. He’s not just the new radical teacher and healer, he’s the Son of God – That’s why the voice from Heaven say’s “LISTEN TO HIM” – they already had been listening to Him, but now God is over emphasising it:
“you guys really need to listen to Him, especially now you know the truth.”
That is why this story comes now, three days before lent begins. It points to who Jesus really is, the Son of God, the Chosen one, Robed in Glory and in Majesty, greater then any one who has come before.
The One who will save us at Easter.
Lent is a time of focusing our lives back onto Jesus and the Cross, what better way to do this then to remind ourselves of Jesus’ true identity.
So as Lent begins let’s help point people to the transfigured Christ, the one who is so much more than radical teacher and healer.
The One who is the meeting point of human and divine.
The One who is glorified in Heaven AND the mountain top
The One who will die and be raised up.