Text: Luke 9:28-36 Speaker: Pastor Matthew Ude Festival: Transfiguration Passages: Luke 9:28-36
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The Transfiguration (Listen)
28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure,1 which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One;2 listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.
Have you ever climbed a mountain to find a miracle? We climb mountains for lots of reasons. We might climb a mountain for the view. These days we might climb a mountain so that we can sled down it. One famous mountain climb reportedly said that he climbed it because it was there.
In India there is a place called Vanyimbadi. Whenever we would travel to Vanyimbadi we would drive up the mountain. This meant an extra hour of driving. It meant going back and forth up a dangerous road. It meant coming down again the same way the next morning. But I always went up, why? Because it was nice and cool on top of the mountain and hot in the plain beneath.
Why did Jesus go up the mountain? Did He know what was going to happen up there? Whether He knew the specifics or not we don’t know. Scripture simply says He went up to pray. We don’t know if He knew the specifics of what would happen but he certainly knew that He would find a miracle.
He went up to meet His Father. He knew that He had a hard dark road ahead of Him and He needed strength from His Father to meet the challenges to come. He was expecting a miracle, a miracle of strength.
Why did Jesus go up the mountain? He went up the mountain because He had to go to Jerusalem to die for our sins. He wanted strength. He wanted comfort in that task. He went up the mountain to pray. He went up the mountain to be near the Father. He went up the mountain to receive strength. He went up the mountain expecting a miracle.
How often have you climbed a mountain expecting a miracle?
Now obviously I’m not talking about climbing a physical mountain. I’m talking about when situations in our life seem hopeless. Perhaps it’s your marriage that seems like a mountain. Perhaps it’s your relationships with your children. Maybe it’s a financial problem. Perhaps God has given you a task or a burden which seems too heavy to bear. In these cases, we have two choices, to give up or to climb the mountain expecting, trusting, believing that God will provide the miracle that we need. How often do we avoid the mountain or turn around because we do not believe there is any miracle at the top.
Yet Jesus has promised us miracles.
Matthew 7:7-8 7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
What else does Jesus mean in this verse than we can and should expect miracles.
What is the nature of these miracles?
God didn’t remove the burden that Jesus had before him, but He did give him confidence and strength to accomplish what might have seemed impossible.
Jesus went up that mountain to pray about His upcoming death on the cross for our sins. We know that from our text. This is the same thing He prayed about on Maundy Thursday evening.
Matthew 26:39 “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
God did not remove that cup from Jesus, that isn’t the miracle that Jesus received on the mountain. Rather He received a miracle to strengthen and encourage Him in the task God had given Him.
How many of us could use a miracle today? I bet most of could use at least one. I’m not talking about a miracle to raise the dead or a miracle to send fire from heaven. We don’t need that kind of a miracle. Perhaps some of us would like a medical miracle. Perhaps we have prayed for a cure to our cancer or something like that, and perhaps God will send us a miracle like that.
Yet God may say to us as He said to His Son, “You must drink this cup. This cup is My will for you.”
The real miracle that most of us need is the miracle to bear burdens that are too heavy for us. The Miracle of sunshine breaking through the deep gloom of this life. That is a miracle that God always promises us through Jesus Christ his son.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
What mountain do you have to climb today?
The mountain of difficult tasks
By faith Abraham climbed the mountain with his son Isaac, expecting a miracle. He believed that he would see Isaac raised from the dead. It is true that he climbed a literal mountain, but the hard part was not the physical climb but the determination to sacrifice his own son. Abraham did receive a miracle, not the one he was expecting but a better one.
What hard thing has God given you to do? What difficult task are you possibly skirting because you don’t believe you can do it, or you don’t believe anything good can come from it? Expect miracles. Climb the mountain looking for God’s miracles through Jesus Christ.
The mountain of confessing your sin
King David committed those grievous sins of murder and adultery. For a long time after he refused to climb the mountain of confessing what he had done. That is hard mountain to climb, to admit our own failure and ask for forgiveness. David needed a little help, Nathan the prophet had to push him a bit. Yet he did finally climb that mountain. He finally did confess his sins and he received the miracle of God’s forgiveness.
The mountain of confessing our sins that is a mountain we often do not bother to climb because we do not expect to find anything at the top. We do not believe that we will be forgiveness. We do not believe that the problem can be fixed. We believe it is better to keep it secret.
Believe in the miracle of God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Expect that Miracle and climb that mountain.
When we climb mountains expecting God’s miracles we often find fantastic views.
Through the eyes of Peter, James and John we see Jesus glorified. Through the eyes of Stephen we see the heavens opened and Jesus sitting on the right hand of the Father. Through they eyes of Mary and the other women we see the empty tomb and the risen Jesus.
We see these things through their eyes and as the song reminds us, “it is good to be here.” It is good to be here with the Lord and the apostles and see these things. Because tomorrow we are going to sin again. Tomorrow we are going to have problems. Tomorrow is going to be dark and lonely and gloomy. And when we find ourselves in the dark valleys we remember the miracles of God’s glory and set our feet to climb mountains, expecting miracles.
This is what Jesus promises when he says
Matthew 11:28 28 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Jesus set his face towards Jerusalem. That is to say He was determined to die for our sins. And because He has died for our sins we are called the sons of God. And because we are called the sons of God we have these promises from God. We can expect miracles.
Psalm 46:5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
What does this passage mean other than this that we can expect miracles. In the darkest nights we can expect to see God’s salvation through Jesus Christ.