Feb 26, 2017 "Transfiguration" based on Exodus 24: 12-18 and Matthew 17: 1-9

 
Once again, its Transfiguration Sunday and we hear the familiar story.
Jesus goes up to the mountain top with a few disciples as his witnesses.
There, he is transfigured into a light and glory-filled light show of radiance.
The cloud appears and God says ‘This is my beloved Son, listen to him!”.
Almost the same words that were spoken at his Baptism just a little while earlier.

The whole story echoes things from the Jewish history that all there knew.
Moses had experienced almost the identical thing, as we heard from Exodus.
He went up the mountain and encountered God in a cloud and a fiery light.
Elijah was a prophet Jews believed would return to announce the end of ages.
Jesus later suggests that Elijah did return in the person of John the Baptist.
Thus, Jesus’ coming was announced as anticipated beginning of the end.
Peter wants to build three dwellings because he knows all three are important. 

So there’s this Old Testament history and prophecy pointing to Jesus as Messiah.
In almost 20 times I’ve preached on this passage, I’ve focused on the obvious.
God’s voice in the cloud,..the mountain top light,…what the disciples witnessed.
I’ve even spoken about the significance of Moses and Elijah being there too.

But what I never gave much thought to in the passage is where it says -
“Suddenly there appeared Moses and Elijah talking with (Jesus).”
What the heck were Moses and Elijah saying as they were talking with Jesus?’
I always just kind of skipped over that, but now I wonder what they said to him?
From 2nd Peter today he speaks of this event but not what they were saying.

Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus; what might they have been saying to him?

Moses, as we heard from our Old Testament reading, had a similar experience.
God had summoned him, like Jesus, up to the mountain top and spoke to him.
Moses, as did Jesus, took a couple assistants along with him for this event.
As with Jesus, God’s cloud surrounded him with the glory and light of the Lord.
And, like Jesus, Moses was appointed by God for a special task.

So Moses could very well have been saying to Jesus - ‘Been there, done that’.
He had a very similar events at his mountain top experience.
But Moses likely had other advice to give to Jesus about what happened later.
About leading,….or should we say…..trying to lead people to the promised land.

You see Moses did everything that the Lord told him to do about guiding people.
But as he did, they often didn’t follow, going their own way, chasing other gods.
Moses likely told Jesus to expect the same kind of behavior from many people.
He probably said ‘Don’t be surprised or too frustrated if they ignore you too’.
He probably told Jesus ‘I know what you’ll be dealing with; been there, done that

Elijah too had been called by God to speak the truth of God to the people.
As with all the prophets, Elijah spoke truths that were often hard and difficult. 
And he also suffered hardship in that he was not appreciated and got harassed.
He was even persecuted and chased after by those who sought to kill him.
So he likely told Jesus ‘You’ll get a lot of pushback when you tell them the truth’.
Elijah could reassure Jesus ‘They’ll get after you for sure, been there, done that’.

It’s always a comfort when someone who has been down the road you’re going to travel, can tell you what to expect cause they’ve ‘been there, done that’.
But what’s even more comforting is when that person can tell youIt’ll be OK’.
And both Moses and Elijah likely also told Jesus that on the mountain top.

Moses could tell Jesus it’ll be OK in that the people listened enough to make it to the promised land.
All Moses’ efforts paid off in the end, since he accomplished what God wanted.
And Elijah could tell Jesus it’ll be OK since God ended up rescuing him.
Rescued by taking him up to heaven on a chariot that went beyond the clouds.

What I think those guys were telling Jesus was - ‘been there, done that.
Sharing the hardships and troubles they knew he’d encounter in his ministry.
But also re-assuring him that God would bring good results and take care of him.
The human side of Jesus,…the one who we know was scared sometimes, cried at times,…laughed and loved and hurt like we do,….that ‘it’ll be OK’.

Sure, Jesus was transformed that day in a physical apparition others saw.
But maybe he was also transformed inside that day by the experience.
Not just by the experience of cloud and light, but of what those guys said to him.
How Moses and Elijah guided and comforted him with the promises of God.

When we have worries and troubles, Jesus does for us what they did for him.
He has told us of his hardships and failed expectations of people and events.
He has told us about how it feels to be rejected or harassed and persecuted.
Jesus can reassure us to hope and believe that, no matter what adversity or hardship we face in life, that we’ll be OK and he helps to thereby transform us! 
Transform us from people filled with worries, fears and uncertainty to people filled with faith in God's promise of love.
He can do that for us and tell us that promise because he’s..... ‘been there, done that’.

Amen.