The Transfiguration– Sermon 279

3rd February 2019 Off By Derek

The Transfiguration
10.00am Holy Communion
6th August 2017

Prayer to start 

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ                                                                              AMEN


One Saturday evening an incumbent decided to give a parishioner a lift to the railway Station.  The only place he could stop was alongside the taxi rack – The passenger got out and thanked the vicar – and he was just about to drive off when a lady burst into the back seat and shouted – ‘Quickly – take me to the Stanley Hotel please’

And without a word the vicar drove the five miles to the requested destination –

When they arrive the lady got out and came to the car window – “I’m not a taxi driver madam – I’m the vicar”- he said.  Oh! Said the woman – hastily pushing a five pound note back in her purse – instead producing a fifty pence piece – “put that in your collection tomorrow from me” – she said

The vicar thanked her and started to drive off – she ran alongside – tapping on the window – you couldn’t come for me just after midnight – and take me back to the station could you?

Unexpected journey’s happen to us all at some time or other – good and bad – and we have to be ready to face them when they arrive –

For those disciples who accompanied Jesus up the mountain – it was to be an unexpected experience – that would change their future forever –

Point 1         Transfiguration

All first three Gospel writers follow the story of the transfiguration – which is believed to have taken place either at Mount Hermon or Mount Tabor – Mount Herman is closest to Ceasaria Philippi – where Peter made that Amazing statement about Jesus being the ‘Son of God’ when Jesus asked him ‘who do you say I am’ – but Mount Tabor is flatter and more accessible – and therefore more favoured by pilgrims because of this –

Going to Mount Tabor these days – means you can go by taxi – to the top – and it has been said that more praying goes on in those few minutes hurtling up and down the narrow mountain road  – in those cars – than in the rest of the day – or possibly the week –

From both mountains the view over Galilee is stunning – but Jesus and the disciples were not there for the view – they have something more extraordinary to concentrate on –

Jesus, Peter, James and John are joined by two great figures from the past – Moses and Elijah representing the law and the prophets – both of whom foreshadowed the coming of the Messiah

Moses and Elijah are speaking to Jesus about his departure – which he is going to fulfil in Jerusalem – The word for departure is ‘exodus’ – which can mean like the OT word –‘going away’ – or as in this case his death – And the death Jesus will fulfil – will be an event more significant than the exodus from Egypt –

In the first exodus Moses led the people out of slavery in Egypt – to the promised land–

In the new exodus Jesus will lead God’s people out of slavery of sin and death to their promised home of inheritance

Jesus went through the mountain top experience knowing it was preparing him to follow where the law and the prophets had pointed –  towards the place where the ‘son of man’ will be handed over to sinners –

The scene at the Transfiguration offers a strong parallel and contrast to the crucifixion –

On the mountain Jesus is revealed in Glory –

At the crucifixion – there on the hillside outside Jerusalem – he is revealed in shame

On the mountain his clothes are shining white

On the hillside they have been stripped off and soldiers gambled for them –

On the mountain he is flanked by Moses and Elijah – two of Israel’s greatest heroes

There he is flanked by two robbers representing the level that Israel has sunk to in rebellion against God –

Here a bright cloud covers the scene – there darkness covers the land

Here Peter blurts out how wonderful it is – and there he is hiding in shame after denying even knowing Jesus –

On the mountain a voice from God – declares that this is God’s wonderful Son – There a pagan soldier declares in surprise – that this really was the son of God –

The mountain top explains the hilltop – and with both side by side we see the glory of the cross –

Jesus was continuing and completing the work of Elijah and Moses – who both disappeared from view – in front of their families and friends – rather than died in the ordinary way – Now in this event they reappear – driven back for a moment – with the veil of ordinariness drawn back – and Jesus is with them shining with a brilliant light –

Peter who got it so wonderfully right at Ceasaria Philippi – about who Jesus is – now completely misses the point – trying to stop the journey at that particular moment – and blurts out the first thing that comes into his head – and in some sense adds credence to the whole reality of the event – At this point there is still much for him -to learn

point 2         Peter

Some moments or experiences can mean so much to us – that we wish we could bottle them up and preserve them unchanged – so the happiness they bring never fades – that marvellous holiday with family or friends – that weekend away from work – quality time spent with those we love –

If we could put the time on hold  – and hang on to it just a bit longer – then we can savour these experiences just one more time – trouble is it wouldn’t be long before familiarity robs us of its magic – In the world today – life must move on if its to keep its sparkle – This was a truth that Peter was to learn the hard way –

At the transfiguration – he recognised the moment as special and wanted to keep hold of it – even to the point of suggesting that he and the other disciples build tents so that Jesus, Moses and Elijah could remain a little longer –

It wasn’t to be though – life had to move on –

What Peter saw on the mountain was the brightness and glory – but he failed to see Jesus’ deliberate journey towards the cross –

Our reading from Peter is the only time outside the first three gospels – that anyone refers to the Transfiguration –

Peter knows that his time to die is drawing near – he had been warned of this by Jesus – and Peter knew he had to help others hold on to the truths about Jesus – that he had witnessed –

The results of his eye witness account is that he could now look back on the prophecy foretold – in the Bible and at its signposts pointing forward to what was to come – – and could see that what Jesus said  –  all made sense –

The temple has been rebuilt – the Messiah is here to save his people –Jesus’ coming – his Transfiguration, death and resurrection have confirmed the prophecies in scripture – such that we can now read the entire – Jewish scripture knowing the end – from the beginning –

We have a roadmap – taking us forward to the day when God’s glory will be revealed to us –

We need to hold on to this roadmap – like people clinging to bright lamp – until the day when Jesus ushers us in on the final day –

Until we know Jesus – we don’t know where he is going – we need to understand and realise who he is – and that he has come for us – The scriptures will help us and with the power of the Holy Spirit – enable us to follow his way and shine out for Jesus into the world –

Point 3         What do we learn? –

Many people think that Jesus was shining brightly because he is divine but in Luke’s account -Moses and Elijah are also shining in glory – and they are not divine –

There may be a clue in the words Jesus himself spoke of when quoting from Daniel – that all God’s people would shine like stars in God’s kingdom –

Jesus leads the disciples up the high mountain to gain a new view of Gods’ kingdom – he is revealing to them what God is up to –

Those outside look and look but never see – the disciples are having their eyes opened – so they can see for the first time – the inner reality of God’s kingdom – and that Jesus really is who he says he is –

Jesus is being caught and bathed in the power, love and Kingdom of God – such that it transforms his whole being with light – much the same as music transforms  words that are sung  –  Jesus is speaking the truth and showing them God’s kingdom – and that he is indeed the true prophet and the Messiah –

This is a story about being surprised by the power, love and beauty of God – are we ready to recognize that same power – love and beauty within Jesus -and to listen to his voice –

The word given to the disciples then is just as much a word for us today – If you want to find the way – the way to God – the way to the promised land – you must listen to Him –

One day we will savour a joy – that will never fade or end but until that day we must treasure every God given moment for what it is – and then move on – not hang on to the past – however special – we have to have faith that God holds the best things for us – yet to come-


As Peter would come to realize – discipleship is not about Glory – or staying in one place – we are all called to step out each day – to take up our cross – and go forward for Jesus

The voice from the cloud recalls the voice heard about Jesus at his baptism – “This is my Son –my chosen one – listen to Him” –

It has been said that our Baptism is like a gateway to an ongoing journey that allows us to live a new life with Jesus and the Holy Spirit – Many though treat it like a revolving door – and their Christian journey never gets beyond it –

Jesus challenges us not to hold on to one experience  – but to keep on travelling spreading His Gospel message – to those we meet in his name – to speak out boldly about our faith – so that others will take their lead from Him

We have a roadmap that confirms the truths about Jesus – and guide in the Holy Spirit to help us on our way – let’s make sure – that the journey we travel on is the one that Jesus has set for us – however unexpected it might turn out to be –

Prayer to Finish