Emmitsburg Council of Churches


The Holy Gospel according to St. Luke 9:28-36

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 9:29 And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 9:30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 9:31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 9:32 Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 9:33 Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah" not knowing what he said. 9:34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 9:35 Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" 9:36 When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen..

The Gospel of the Lord . . . Praise to you O Christ!!

Glory At The Summit

Here is the scene: Peter, John and James have gone mountain climbing with Jesus. The stated purpose of the trip was to join Jesus on the mountain, Mt. Horeb, to pray, but once they get up there, what was supposed to be a quiet prayerful journey–turns into a major – eye opening – spiritual awakening! Jesus is revealed to be God's Son, God reveals God's own presence through Christ in all of his GLORY!

At first we're easily led along with the disciples . . . things are ordinary and mundane. There's the narrow trail we're walking on. "Hey look, there's a cool rock over there." We pass by a beautiful vista, we listen and watch for some interesting birds in the nearby brush . . . it's just a really nice day to be walking with Jesus.

Of course, by this time the disciples know Jesus quite well – it's no big deal to spend time with Jesus these days. They came up the hill listening to his teachings and in their own minds, they were re-playing scenes of many miracles Jesus had performed. They were just fascinated enough with Jesus' life that the journey up the hillside seemed light . . . and yet they were getting sleepy. But when they reach the top, the disciples (tired now) can scarcely believe what they are seeing. Suddenly, they are seeing Jesus having a meeting with MOSES!! and ELIJAH!! This was astounding!!

"Jesus, you know these guys???!" Like, how is this possible? Where did Moses and Elijah come from??" How is it that Moses and Elijah have appeared out of no where? We remember the story about Elijah being swooped up by the fiery chariot and nobody ever did comprehend where he went or why God had taken him this way . . . possibly reserving the great prophet for some special task (or conversation (?) in the future. But Moses, we know the place and time when he died after ascending to Mt. Nebo and Pisgah and he was "buried in a valley in the land of Moab" (Duet. 34:1-12). We know Moses had died after leading Israel into his old age and God had seen to it that his body was buried, but now (!!) here are Moses and Elijah having a "live chat" with Jesus, and their appearance is like that of an angel's. They are resurrected from the dead!!

Seeing the miraculous appearance of Moses and Elijah is about the limit of what Peter, John and James can take in. Remember, since they've arrived at the summit of the mountain with Jesus, they have fallen into a kind of daze, – they've gotten sort of sleepy and tired. Here is an interesting point we can all relate to – at least we should keep in mind that--when important things are about to take place for us in the spiritual sense (or in practical ways), God is about to reveal himself or his Will to us . . . we will often fall into a kind of . . ., what shall we call this? a kind of satanic sleepiness. For some reason, when we should be most alert and paying attention to God's message for us . . . too often we are overcome with tiredness . . . or is it that we're bored?

I should point out to you here, that there was another incident of the "spiritual lazies" overcoming the disciples, remember (actually a flash ahead in the gospels) when Jesus asks the disciples to "Keep watch and pray" at the Garden of Gethsemane, and they are overcome with sleep at that critical moment – yes, it seems that Satan has a way of pulling us away from the important moments when God wants to reveal himself to us, or when our Lord Jesus asks for us to be of some service to him . . . we are so easily led astray, so easily overcome with sleepiness!!

However, something else happens there on the mountaintop that day. Jesus' appearance becomes dazzling! His face, body and clothing become as brilliant as the sun. And we notice, that although the disciples were almost overcome by the sleepiness, they are not completely overcome. Instead, the brilliance of Christ's Transfiguration rouses them from sleep!! The light of God the Father, is now focused intensely on his Son Jesus. Brilliant rays of light are streaming through the NOW Glorified Lord Jesus Christ. And the disciples are completely overwhelmed by what they see.

Their friend, the Teacher, Jesus is now revealed in all of his glory – he is the Son of God, the Prince of Peace the Mighty Counselor. He is God in their midst!!!

Peter has a recognition that this is indeed a holy moment. Although he can hardly make sense of what is transpiring before them, Peter finds it within himself to attempt a response and suggests constructing three tabernacles or shelters. Maybe we can relate to Peter's desire to "capture the moment." In fact, we would all like to contain this moment with Jesus, Elijah and Moses -- keep a little glory just for ourselves! This is precisely what we like to do with God. Bottle up the moment. Build three shelters, one for Moses, one for Jesus and one for Elijah . . . and then we can keep them right there on the mountaintop, where we can go back and visit whenever we want to! Don't tell anyone else . . . just kind of keep them there just for us!

And sometimes we do try to capture God's spirit and keep it for ourselves. We would like to be able to pull God off the shelf when we need him. But God cannot be contained in a shelter nor bottled up or stored on a disc!! God is a living and active God. He is Spirit and Truth and LIGHT! He is all powerful, all knowing and omnipotent God!! And he reveals himself to us through his Son Jesus.

Seeing Christ Transfigured, with God's Glory shining through like the sun on the mountaintop that day, the satanic sleepiness cannot prevail over the disciples. Even though they were overwhelmed and could not readily make sense of all that was happening, they are now fully awake!! Now they know Jesus is truly God's Son! God is bringing his marvelous light into the world, and the Light of Jesus WILL OVERCOME ALL darkness and evil !!

Because of their experience with the GLORIFIED CHRIST, the disciples will have a deeper and stronger abiding faith. In fact, they will not be able to keep Jesus in a shelter up there on the mountain top, but now they will carry his Light and Glory inside their own hearts and souls to witness HIS LOVE FOR THE WORLD. Now, because Christ has been fully revealed to them, the disciples will be able to bear His brilliant presence, for upon "those who lived in a land of deep darkness -- on them a light has shined" (Isaiah 9:2). All who experience the Glory of Christ's Transfiguration will be able to speak confidently and without reservation about Jesus, because his light and truth and power will be alive in their own spirits.

This is the power of the story of Christ's Transfiguration for you and me. Jesus, is Glorified in our midst and lives as light and love in our own hearts and souls. We also bear witness to his Glorified Presence in the world of our own time. We too can share the truth of the Gospel to a troubled world, filled with evil and darkness, that needs to know God is yet at work in our midst. He is not just to be discovered during the mountain top experiences (not that these are illegitimate), but, Christ's presence is to be known as streaming through us!! An everyday reality!!!

Therefore, we have become his witnesses, shining the light of God into the world. We have his Spirit as a deposit of Glory inside of us. We have his Word as the source of our own sustenance -- living inside our hearts and minds. We have one another to be reminded that Christ continues to reign in our midst as we gather to hear his word and partake of his Holy Supper, and we have the Hope of the Resurrection to overcome all of our fears.

May we all let our light shine for Jesus, even as he continues to reign from on high, in all of HIS GLORY . . . Lord of Heaven and Earth, FOREVER AND EVER! Amen!!

Read more writings of Pastor Jon