Come Down The Mountain (Matthew 17)

Sermon Series Spiritual Gifts 1110 x 624 (1)

Sermon Series: Many Gifts, One Spirit. Discerning Our Calling From God. 
Message 1 of 5: Come Down the Mountain
Scripture:  Matthew 17:1-15
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 9/29/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

If you are a follower of Jesus, you have a calling from God. They go hand in hand. Each and every one of us. It’s not just for the pastor or the missionary.

It’s just like the Blues Brothers when they say, “I’m on a mission from God.” That could be our catchphrase as well.

The series theme verse is 1 Peter 4:10-11   
Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

The first calling from God is “Come, follow me.”

  • Call to a relationship with Christ
  • Call to salvation

The second calling from God is “Come down the mountain”

  • Call to relationship with others
  • Call to serve

Matthew 17:1-15, The Transfiguration of Jesus
1Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves.

What happened six days before? Jesus gathers the disciples and foretells his death and resurrection. Jesus’ foretells his call to serve

  • Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
  • Jesus reveals his call to serve and says you also have a call. You also have a cross.

Almost a week had passed since this conversation. Do the disciples have any clue that this will be a crazy, powerful, holy experience?

2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3 Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.

Time shatters and Jesus is revealed glorified. Two of the heroes of the faith are there talking to Jesus like they’re old friends. There’s Moses, the one who was with God on the mountain, who brought down the ten commandments and led the people from slavery into freedom. There’s Elijah the prophet, who had many powerful encounters with God on mountains.

Peter, James, and John are in the middle of all this. They receive a glimpse of glory on the top of the mountain.

It isn’t just Jesus’ glory; it’s Moses’ glory and Elijah’s glory. In glory, we won’t be alone. Jesus shows us we will have companions and that it’s always about relationship.

4 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.”

It’s good to get a glimpse of glory. It’s good to be on top of the mountain.

Why would Peter offer to build Jesus, Moses, and Elijah’s dwellings? That seems weird. It was actually a usual practice of those who worshipped false gods in this time period. You’d see the sides of notable mountains dotted with altars and tents, even buildings.

Peter is so excited. He’s like a puppy. We can do this and we can do that. Let’s stay on the mountain. It’s good for us to be here.

This is the temptation, to stay on the mountain. I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. We have this new relationship with God and our hearts are starting to be opened, and our eyes are starting to be opened, and our minds are starting to be opened.

We just want to hang out with Jesus on the mountain. There’s a reason why they call it a “mountaintop experience.” We want to stay with Jesus away from the messiness and pain of life.

The second temptation is to want to capture and control the Glory of God. Jesus, let’s build a box for you and a box for Moses and a box for Elijah and we’ll keep all this glory in the box and hang out together on the mountain.

5 While Peter 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!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear.

They are hearing the very voice of God. Yes, it is wonder-full, power-full, marvelous, and glorious. But on the mountaintop in the full presence of God, it is also awe-full, mysterious, holy, and overwhelming. All we can do is fall on our faces before the glory of God.

It’s excitement and joy and it’s on my face, “You are God and I am not.”

Steve Garnaas Holmes said, “Let’s be honest: it’s terrifying to stand too close to a speeding train, to get near to the power of God, the light that can change you into your own unknown, the mystery that will surely consume you, the love that will crack your life open till the light all spills out

Jim Harnish said, “They never expected to see Jesus “transfigured in front of them…his clothes were amazingly bright, brighter than if they had been bleached white.”  They never expected to see Elijah and Moses talking with him like old friends. They never anticipated the voice in the cloud that declared, “This is my Son…Listen to him.”  No wonder they were terrified! They were scared stiff by a startling experience of the sacred.”

What would you do?

Jesus leads as he always does. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.”

Jesus comes in the midst of being overwhelmed by the power and goodness. Jesus comes and Jesus touches us. God touches us and speaks. What does God always say, “Do not be afraid.”

Yes, it is holy, powerful, mysterious, but God draws near. God desires the relationship and initiates the relationship. God always draws near.

8 And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

The glimpse of glory was just that … a glimpse … and it was gone.

The first calling from God is “Come, Follow Me.”

  • Call to a relationship with Christ
  • Call to salvation
  • Call to come to the mountaintop
  • Call to experiences the presence and glory of God

The second calling from God is “Come Down the Mountain”

  • Call to relationship with others
  • Call to engagement
  • Call to serve

14 When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, 15 and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water.

The four come down the mountain, down into the valley. Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For you are with me. (Psalm 23)

We come up the mountain and experience the light, the glory, the goodness of God and we bring that light down the mountain with us so we can come into the shadows, the darkness, the pain, the mess and we can push it all back with the light.

Jim Harnish asks, “Which is more frightening for us? The possibility of some unexpected, overwhelming experience of the sacred? Or the challenge of following Jesus into the shadows and needs of our ordinary lives?”

Hear the Good News Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.”

Prayer:
Jesus, give us your glory and give us grace
Grace to follow you up the mountain and down into the valley
Thank you for every loving invitation
You shine. You are glorious. You are Light, O Christ.
Fill us with light.
Grant us a glimpse of your glory.

Save us, O God,
From every temptation
From every false understanding and motivation

Save us from the temptation to just stay on the mountain
Save us from the temptation to never engage
Save us from the temptation
of trying to capture and control your power and glory

You are Mystery, You are Holy, You are God
We bow in wonder and worship

Help us listen
Help us follow
Help us listen
Help us follow
Help us know your touch, your voice
Help us follow you in grace, goodness, light, and service
Amen.

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Come Down the Mountain © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Reader's Theater: The Transfiguration

Transfiguration by Cornelis Monsma

Transfiguration by Cornelis Monsma

Reader’s Theatre: The Transfiguration
Traditional Version
Based on Mark 9:2-8 (NRSV)
In this setting, you have the option of sandwiching the reading between the song His Name is Wonderful by Audrey Mieir
United Methodist Hymnal #174
CCLI # 1122230

ALL SINGING: His Name is Wonderful
by Audrey Mieir
United Methodist Hymnal #174
CCLI # 1122230

Instruments continue during the reading.

NARRATOR
Six days after a discussion about his identity with his disciples, Jesus led Peter and James and John up a high mountain. They were apart from the others, by themselves.

Jesus was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. Elijah and Moses appeared. They were talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus,

PETER
Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

NARRATOR
Peter did not know what to say, for they were terrified.

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice,

OFFSTAGE VOICE
This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him!

NARRATOR
Suddenly when the disciples looked around, they saw no one with them, only Jesus.

ALL SINGING: His Name is Wonderful
by Audrey Mieir (United Methodist Hymnal #174; CCLI # 1122230)

compilation © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the music, scripture translation, art and the use of this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

**************

Reader’s Theater: The Transfiguration
Contemporary Version

Based on Mark 9:2-8 (NRSV)
In this setting, you have the option of sandwiching the reading between portions of the song Filled With Glory by Lisa & Michael Gungor (CCLI #4624295).

ALL SINGING: Filled With Glory
by Lisa & Michael Gungor (CCLI #4624295)
Verse 1 twice, chorus
Instruments continue during the reading

NARRATOR
Six days after a discussion about his identity with his disciples, Jesus led Peter and James and John up a high mountain. They were apart from the others, by themselves.

Jesus was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. Elijah and Moses appeared. They were talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus,

PETER
Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

NARRATOR
Peter did not know what to say, for they were terrified.

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice,

OFFSTAGE VOICE
This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him!

NARRATOR
Suddenly when the disciples looked around, they saw no one with them, only Jesus.

ALL SINGING: Filled With Glory
by Lisa & Michael Gungor (CCLI #4624295)
Verse 2, chorus twice, bridge 4X, chorus twice

compilation © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the music, scripture translation, art and the use of this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.