Last Sunday after Epiphany, Year A

carl_heinrich_bloch_the_transfiguration1A Called to the Mountaintop

Have we received a call from God to come up to the mountaintop? If so, we would be in good company.

The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God.   (Exodus 24:12-13)

God calls us up to His mountain. He is calling everyone to do so. Her calls us each by name. Are we listening? Peter, James, and John were listening. We read in Matthew:

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves.   (Matthew 17:)

There is a purpose for a mountaintop experience. Moses was called by God to receive His commandments which established the Old Covenant. Peter, James, and John were called by Jesus up to the Mount of Transfiguration to understand the New Covenant.

On the mountain we learn the purposes and plans of God, if we are attentive. In today’s Gospel we read:

Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.  (Matthew 17:4-8)

Peter had become distracted. He was overwhelmed by the experience. He knew the event was important and he wanted to preserve it. Nonetheless, Peter missed the significance of this event, at least initially. Many Christians today are seeking signs and wonders. These were meant for unbelievers. As Christians we must learn to value what is significant to our spiritual growth and what is central to the will of God. After the resurrection Peter wrote:

We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.   (2 Peter 1:16-18)

What was the significant message of the Mount of Transfiguration? Mose and Elijah represented the Law of God and the Prophets. Neither the Law nor the Prophets can grant us salvation. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. Salvation is only by grace through faith in Him.

There is also a very significant byproduct of a mountain top experience with God. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai his face shone because he had been in the presence of God. For this reason he wore a veil over his face. As we follow Jesus we are not meant to wear a veil. We are called to shine with the glory of God.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.   (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Jesus has purchased the right for us to come up to the mountain of God. Are we willing to spend some of our time with Him. If so, He will change us more and more into His likeness. On the mountain top we are transformed. (We become who or what we worship.) All this is in preparation for the time we, too, will be transfigured. We will be carried away to the Father’s house for a lasting celebration.

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Filed under Epiphany, homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon preparation, Year A

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