The Bible is filled with stories of people whose lives would never be the same after their encounter with the divine. Noah, Abraham and Sarah, and of course Moses, who appeared on the mountain top with Elijah. His first encounter with God was on a mountain in a burning bush. It was there he was called to lead God’s people out of bondage and into the Promised Land.
Out on the plains of the wilderness…Moses would climb up another mountain where he caught a glimpse of God’s backside. Yes…he saw God’s butt. When he came down from Mount Sinai, he not only had the tablets containing the Ten Commandments… but his face was shining so brightly because of that encounter they had to cover it with a veil.
Moses saw God and he was changed. Not only in appearance, but deep down in the core of his being. To see God is to be changed.
Luke offers us another mountaintop encounter with God. Jesus took three of his closest disciples up the mountain to pray. These guys left everything to follow Jesus. They had heard his teaching, asked questions, and witnessed countless miracles. Yet it wasn’t until this particular time and place that their eyes were opened to see Jesus as the Christ transfigured before them. And just in case this point wasn’t clear to them the voice of God called out, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” It’s right to think that when God speaks, we ought to listen.
In Jesus, God is telling us something. So we ought to pay close attention. See what Jesus does and then go and do it. This is how the glory of God is transfigured in us.
Peter, James and John got a glimpse of the Kingdom of God, there was no turning back. Once you see God’s glory, you can’t unsee it. Yet while they finally comprehended the importance of this event, the disciples did not immediately act on it. And for obvious reasons, they were human – afraid of what might happen.
As a young teenager, I had a similar experience that changed my life. I don’t often talk about it because I learned early on, that a vast majority of people, especially the so-called faithful Christians, don’t always believe someone who claims to have had visions of Christ. But what I saw and heard, I could not unsee or unknow. The feeling I felt in the deepest core of my being would forever change me.
When each of my children were born, I saw God in full glory. When we suffered the loss of someone we dearly loved, I knew God was there sharing our pain and anguish. Whenever I hike or play golf with Kevin, I can’t help but see God all around us. And every time I meet someone new, I have another new encounter with God that transforms the way I see the world. I have come to realize that wherever I am…God is there too. In Jesus, God opens our eyes to this divine revelation.
Once we accept this profound truth, we are able to see God’s Kingdom for the greatness that it is. And we can fully participate and thrive in it.
Through Jesus , God opens our eyes and changes our perception, not just of ourselves but others as well. God says, “This is my Son, listen to him.” This is not so much a command, but an invitation to live and participate in the Kingdom of God. To see and do what Jesus does in order to learn and teach others of God’s grace and truth.
I like to think God has opened our eyes, not just to see the truth about Jesus, but the truth about us all. We are all beloved children of God. To see the face of Jesus changes us. But more importantly, to see that same face in others can change the world.
Imagine if we put the face of Christ on a person we hate, then rage can be changed into love; war into peace; and weapons into plowshares. True transfiguration…from the human way to the Divine will of God.
Luke concludes this story with another life changing event. When they descended the mountain, they were immediately confronted by a man whose son had been seized by an evil spirit. The demon dramatically threw the child to the ground, but Jesus was unfazed. He rebuked the spirit, healed the young boy, and returned him to his father. Luke ends the passage stating, “And all were astounded at the greatness of God.” They were changed. How could they not be? How could we not be? To see God is to be forever changed.
The disciples had their mountain top experience with God. But it was down in the streets that they would begin to fully comprehend what God had invited to do…to participate in God’s Kingdom by being mirrors of the Christ throughout the world.
As you leave here today, I hope you will remember that every time you interact with others you encounter God. Think about how that might change the way you speak, or listen, or care for those around you. Through Jesus, God not only opens our eyes and our ears but our hearts and our hands as well. To see the Kingdom of God and to follow participate in its glory. Through Jesus, God speaks to us and invites us to be a mirror of the Christ transfigured…so others can have a life-changing encounter as well.
So my challenge to you is this: Go now and be God’s glory in the world; astounding all with the greatness of God in all that you do.
Much thanks to Joshua Wood whose sermon I borrowed much from. The Episcopal Church. March 3, 2019. (accessed March 1, 2019).
"While we have time, let us visit Christ, let us serve Christ, let us nourish Christ, let us clothe Christ, let us offer hospitality to Christ, let us honor Christ" ~ Saint Gregory
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”