The Glory Of The Mountaintop / Luke 9:28-37 NIV
We come to a very special story within the Gospel of Luke - the story of The Transfiguration. As we consider these verses, we’d like to do 2 things :
#1) Answer mystery about disciples “not tasting death.”
#2) Talk about the need for mountaintop experiences.
Start with Jesus’ promise in v. 27: “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.” Didn’t all disciples die a martyr’s death? Did any go straight to Heaven? If not, what about what Jesus says here?
The Kingdom of God is more than a place! Luke very specifically and deliberately answers Jesus’ promise in the next verse 28: “About 8 days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.” After Jesus said THIS… referring back to the promise. What follows is the answer. Not ALL disciples, only SOME. “Peter, John and James.”
Kingdom of God doesn’t have to only refer to Heaven as a place where we go to be with God after our deaths. Jesus came to proclaim the Kingdom of God now. It is come. It has come. With Jesus. With us.
We discover 4 things about this “Kingdom of God” :
a) Entered into via ___________. (28)
Starts with prayer. Even for Jesus. Are you praying for a mountaintop experience? Do you ask to see the Kingdom of God now in your life?
b) Ordinary becomes ___________. (29)
Transfiguration verse. “Appearance of face changed. Clothes as bright as lightning.” When we experience Kingdom of God we see things differently.
c) Death is forever ___________. (30)
Moses and Elijah join them. You may think it couldn’t happen. They’ve been dead for hundreds of years. Not in Kingdom of God. Death defeated. Life reigns.
d) God’s will is ____________.(31)
Most importantly the conversation is about God’s plan. Kingdom of God is where God’s will is always desired and always working out.
Doesn’t Kingdom of God sound like where you want to be? Where you want to live? What you want to experience? The truth is we are often mired down in the ordinary, defeated, dying world mostly at odds with God’s plans. If we are honest with ourselves, it’s easy to become discouraged. Occasionally we need the mountaintop experience of Christ to transfigure our own faith from hopelessness to hope, discouragement to encouragement.
We need mountaintop experiences in our Christian lives because:
#1 - We clearly see _______________ .
“His face changed and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” Luke 9:29 NIV
The glory of Christ changes us. Empowers us. We appreciate Jesus as fully man. We also need to know Him as fully God. Do you remember how John’s gospel describes this glory?
“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” Jn 1:14 MSG
This is a glory like none other. “One-of-a-kind” “Only begotten” “One and only.” “Like Father Like Son!” Here’s the question we must answer:
Has God’s glory moved into our neighborhood?
The Christian faith is a positive faith. A hopeful faith. The Christ-follower looks into the depths of depravity of this world and knows this is not the end of the story. The light of Christ’s glory changes the outcome. God is not finished yet. With us. With this world. With our failures. With others’ failures. When we are most at risk of “losing it” “giving up” “falling apart,” what is it that keeps us together? The glory of God reflected in Christ!
How Hebrews opens…
“The Son reflects the glory of God and shows exactly what God is like. He holds everything together with his powerful word. When the Son made people clean from their sins, he sat down at the right side of God, the Great One in heaven.” Hebrews 1:3 NCV
The truth is that it’s difficult to grasp ahold of God. His thoughts and ways are just too far above us! (Isaiah 55:8&9) That’s why Jn 1:14 Jesus became flesh - so we might be able to grasp God and His glory. Jesus told us, “You’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father.” (Jn 14:9) So Jesus came in human form and REFLECTS the glory of God.
We need mountaintop experiences when we experience God’s glory! It’s during these times that the impossible doesn’t seem so impossible any more. The horribly bad doesn’t seem quite so bad. The sickness of life (even death) pales in it’s temporarity to God’s eternal goodness reflected in His glory. It is times like this that He holds us together. When we see ourselves clean from sin. When we know the work is done and Jesus is now sitting at God’s right hand. Our tiresome struggles give way to God’s victory and peace!
#2 - We clearly see ___________________ .
“They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.” Luke 9:31 NIV
Imagine the conversation between Jesus, Moses, Isaiah…
There was a plan. Jesus was following the plan. They were all in on it and watching! Coming to fulfillment. Like watching your favorite movie over and over. You know how it’s going to end, but you love watching!
How does being able to see Christ’s purpose so clearly on mountaintop help us? Simple. If Jesus could do it - and we have His Spirit within us - then we know that we can and should fulfill God’s purpose too!
“Have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Although he was in the form of God and equal with God, he did not take advantage of this equality. Instead he emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant.” Philippians 2:5-7 GWT
We also are servants. This is not a degraded position. This is a privilege! We get to be part of the team! We get to be in on it! God’s purpose to redeem the world is accomplished through Christ and His Spirit and His Christ-followers - that’s you and me! Every now and again we need to be reminded of this truth. Reminded during mountaintop experiences.
#3 - We clearly see _____________________ .
“Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters.” Lk 9:33 NIV
Verse goes on to say that Peter stuck his foot in his mouth again, didn’t know what he was saying - Not right to worship Moses or Elijah. Also not right to stop and erect monuments before the job is done. Jesus still had a purpose to fulfill in Jerusalem. His monument would be at Golgotha!
BUT we can understand Peter’s heart. When you’ve had a mountaintop experience with Jesus, your greatest desire is to stop and worship Him! In the grandest mountaintop experiences, you never want the worship to end. Nothing ever seems more right - to worship Jesus now and forever! You can completely identify with Peter. And with writer of Hebrews…
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.” Hebrews 12:28 ESV
When the world around you has been shaken to its core by sin, corruption, hatred, hurting people hurting people, solid people you have believed in falling to their own sins and hurts, you need the real Kingdom of God “that cannot be shaken.” When you experience it, you are so grateful and just want to stay in that place filled with reverence and awe.
And like Peter, it’s in that moment that God’s Spirit gently nudges you and says, “I’m not done yet. I have more for you to do. Can’t stay here on the mountaintop. We need to move on.” Don’t forget the experience. Remember it. Don’t discount it’s validity. Helps you…
When I can’t follow by _________ , I follow by _________ .
Just when you thought this story couldn’t get any stranger, we see this cloud come in over them so they couldn’t see and it was frightening!
“A cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying,’This is my Son, whom I have chosen. listen to him.’” Luke 9:34-35NIV
The same thing happens to us after our mountaintop experiences. Where before we were so certain, now we are so unsure. Where before we could see so clearly, now everything is so cloudy. Where before we could see God’s glory, now we can only feel His Presence… we really can’t see much of anything at all! And it’s scary! Frightening!
We wonder how it could be possible for us to move so quickly from the mountaintop experience to the challenges of uncertainty? Today’s talk should teach you two most important things to remember.
#A. Mountaintop experiences are great, but not the norm. They are gifts given to remind us of Christ’s glory, purpose, and our need to worship!
#B. When we’re not on the mountain (most of the time) we remember when we were. And we recall what God the Father said to the 3 disciples in the midst of the mist: LISTEN TO HIM! The truth is that most of the time we cannot see clearly. Most of the time we are not on the mountain. But no matter where I am, no matter what valley I am going through, I can hear Jesus if I will only LISTEN! Listening takes effort. Active. We have a word for it… PRAYER! We follow by praying, by listening!