Sunday, February 22, 2009

“I Saw! I Heard! I Speak!” (Mark 9:5)

S-1100 2/22/09 Transfiguration Sunday/3B Hymns: (O) #135; (S) #413 LSB; LS. #415 LSB; #306; #359 (C) #416 LSB

Texts 2 Kings 2:1-12; 2 Corinthians 3:12-14; 4:1-6; Mark 9:2-9

Theme: “I Saw! I Heard! I Speak!” (Mark 9:5)

Question: “Do you ever wonder why we observe Transfiguration before we begin Lent?”


This sermon will be preached in a first person dramatic narrative. Peter is visiting Armour today. (Peter is dressed with burlap garment, sandals, a fishermen’s pouch, head dress (purple), waist band (green). I have stubble for a beard too.

A week ago, the Rabbi from Nazareth Yeshua was teaching us that He must go to Jerusalem; suffer at the hands of our Jewish leaders, be put to death and rise on the third day. I stood up to him and objected to what He said. He told me “Get behind me satan! You don’t have in mind the things of God, but of man” (Mark 9:33).

Today began like many of the other days my companions and I spent with the Rabbi from Nazareth around the Sea of Galilee, or so I thought. A little later into the day, Yeshua asked John, James and I to join Him in going to a private place. We began the climb up the steep mountain. I remember vividly the day. The wind was light; the sky was as blue as the Sea, and not a cloud in the sky. And the sun’s beams were radiant on our backs and faces. The warmth of the sun made the journey beautiful. The higher we climbed the sun appeared brighter.

On the mountain the most amazing thing I ever saw with my own two eyes (point to the eyes), happened. Yeshua’s appearance changed completely—from the inside and outside. His face shown with the glory that is brighter than the Palestinian sun ever shown. And this glory didn’t beam from the sun upon Him, but came through Him and outshone the brightest sky I have ever witnessed. It was so bright that I couldn’t look at Him. His face looked like the face of God. He glowed as with majesty and beauty that boggles the mind.

And with my eyes blinking at the image that was standing before me, I saw two other men standing with Him. I shook my head (shake head), I rubbed my eyes (rub eye), at the images that were standing there, Yeshua, Moses and Elijah. I truly couldn’t believe what was happening. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was afraid that I was dreaming. But no, this was no dream. But I was witnessing something beautiful and real. But who was this Yeshua? Why did He invite me and the others to join Him on this mountain-hike? Pause for few seconds (I would know sometimes later).

With my own eyes, I was looking at a most beautiful scene—Yeshua, My Rabbi, Moses and Elijah were on the mountain and I, Peter the fisherman from Capernaum, was privileged to see this event. I wanted to preserve this moment. I wanted to cherish this moment. I wanted to bask in this moment. I didn’t want to come down from the mountain. I didn’t really know what to say, but saying nothing just didn’t seem right either. But you know me, silence isn’t in my nature. Before I knew it, my mouth was opened and I began saying: “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for You and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

And this is not all I saw. As I attempted to hear the conversations that the Rabbi, Moses, and Elijah were speaking about—they spoke about a new kind of Exodus, a dramatic departure for Yeshua, some unknown activity that my Rabbi was to carry out. I was still trying to figure it out and all of a sudden a cloud came over us. And out of the cloud a voice spoke saying, “This is My beloved Son; listen to Him.” Fear filled my heart at the voice, and the sight that I was witnessing and I fell to the ground (drop on the knees).

What was happening on that mountain? Who was this Yeshua the Man from Nazareth? How could it be that His whole being changed and became brighter than the sun? How could He glow with such brilliant beams of light? And the cloud, where did it come from? Was it the same cloud that led my people in the wilderness? Was I standing before God Himself? If so, can I see God and live?

(Stand up), Fear, trepidation and panic were all over my face. I knew that I was witnessing with my own eyes God walking among us. I knew that I was hearing the voice of God. There on the mountain God and Man were standing face-to-face. I knew this was special—very special indeed and something that I wanted to tell others about. I was so excited to tell others of what I saw and what I heard. (Move a little towards the steps).

But as we began to come down from the mountain, Jesus said to us, “Don’t tell anyone about this, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.” I didn’t understand what He was talking about. I didn’t understand why not. I didn’t understand what it meant for the “Son of Man to rise from the dead.” And yet, I now know what I saw, Yeshua’s whole being beamed with the glory that is brighter than the sun. And I heard God’s voice saying “This is My Son, listen to Him.” PAUSE. (Move to another place).

It was sometimes later that I realized what this shining moment on the mountain meant, for my Rabbi. His conversation with Moses and Elijah were being carried out. He traveled to Jerusalem and there He taught many in the temple and reached out to many who needed healing. His compassionate hands were busy doing many good things—healing the diseased, caring for the needs of the sick, concerned for the outcast and raising the dead. Among the people His popularity increased, but among the Jewish leaders it decreased. The people loved the Rabbi, but our Jewish leaders hated Him. I didn’t know why. I didn’t know what I was seeing or what I was hearing.

But then, it all became clear. I saw with my own eyes the Rabbi from Nazareth taken from among us in the Garden as a prisoner by the soldiers of our Jewish leaders. I saw Him dragged to the courtroom. I saw Him mocked and spit upon. I saw Him beaten. I saw them put a crown of thorns on Him. And the funny robe they dressed Him with. And I heard all kinds of accusations against Him. It seemed that everyone was against Him.

In fear I left my Rabbi alone to face the hungry eyes, and the evil hands of the enemies. This was not my shining moment. I was afraid they might take me as a prisoner. I was afraid they might beat me. I was afraid they might hurt me. So I ran, and ran and ran. PAUSE.

I couldn’t run far enough as not to see the crowd filling up the streets of Jerusalem. I couldn’t run far enough not to hear the verdict—crucify Him. I don’t know why there was such hatred for Him. For My Rabbi hadn’t done anything to deserve death. What He did was good and beautiful. He blessed the little children and said, “Let them come to me.” He raised the dead from the grave. He fed the hungry. He opened the eyes of the blind. He forgave sins. MINE TOO.

Compassion flowed from the Man from Nazareth. Love poured out from His mouth like sweet water. Care was demonstrated by Him as He got involved in the lives of my country men. And yet the Jewish leaders hated Him and wanted Him dead.

Well, they put Him to death. They put Him in the grave. But they couldn’t stop Him. They couldn’t silence Him. They couldn’t destroy Him. For in three days He rose from the dead.

I saw the grave myself. I ran early that morning after hearing from Mary Magdalene that He has risen from the dead. The grave was empty. I can assure of you that. I saw it empty. And then I heard my My Rabbi speak.

Then, only then, I understood what He told me that day on the mountain, “Don’t tell anyone about this, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.” I know why. Because He is not just a Man from Nazareth, He is not just a Rabbi, He is not just a miracle worker, He is not just a prophet that came upon the scene; but He is God’s very own Son. He is My Savior, who died and rose for me—Peter. PAUSE (move to another place).

With these two eyes (point) I saw my Savior on the Mountain. With these two ears (point) I heard the voice of God, and now with my own lips (point), I tell you of what I had seen and heard. Now I know why the Holy Spirit moved me to speak saying, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here...” because I was able to see Him as more than mere man. I saw God face-to-face and I lived. I was able to hear the voice of more than mere man, I heard the voice of God—a voice of love for sinners like me.

Today, I am among you telling you what I saw and what I heard. I tell you that Yeshua carried out a greater Exodus than the one Moses did—He split the rock on Good Friday; He exited from the tomb on Sunday. He appeared to us that evening. I tell you about it to strengthen your faith on the journey of life. I tell you of what I saw and heard so that you can be assured that same Rabbi Yeshua came to forgive YOUR sins too. I tell you of what I saw and heard so that you can be certain of the victory He has won for us—all of us (point to the people). I tell you of what I saw and heard so that you know for certain that someday you, too, will see God face-to-face and be with Him in the Paradise of heaven. But you don’t have to wait to go up to a mountain to see Him or to get to heaven to see Him, You see Him now. He comes to you right here and now in His living Word. He comes to you today even on the plain through His meal of bread and blood. And you can feel good for being here. For you too, have the Transfiguration of Christ before your very own eyes.

My dear friends, I tell you of what I saw and heard so that you too may tell others of my visit with you today about my Savior; God’s Son whose glory is brighter than any Palestinian sun could ever glow.

I saw. I heard. And today, I speak.

(Peter leaves quietly from the side door)

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