Sunday, March 6, 2011

“I Was on the Mountain” (Matthew 17:1-9).

S-1236 Transfiguration Sunday//3A 03/06/11 Hymns from LSB (O) #415; (S) #414; (C) #416

Text: Exodus 24:8-18; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 17:1-9

Theme: “I Was on the Mountain” (Matthew 17:1-9).

Question: “Have you ever been on a mountain?”


This sermon will be preached in FPDNP. The preacher is John the youngest of the disciples and part of the inner circle. However, will not be dressed except with the Alb and stole.

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

The first time I met the Rabbi from Nazareth, I was helping my father Zebedee and my older brother James mend the nets before we were going out fishing on the Sea of Galilee. My father was a great fisherman and our business was growing with our partners Peter and Andrew.

On one of those beautiful sunny days while working the nets, the Rabbi Jesus called me, my brother and our partners to follow Him and He promised to make us fishers of men. Right there and then, I, and the others left the nets, the father and mother I loved and the town I lived in and followed Him… I learned a great deal from Him about the Kingdom of heaven.

He taught me so much and opened my eyes by teaching the Scriptures like no other Rabbi ever did. It seemed when He spoke, He was speaking to me the very Words of God. I loved hearing Him speak because His Words brought so much comfort to my young heart and mind.

Once, I had witnessed Him perform in our neighboring town a most unusual miracle. At a wedding I and the rest of His disciples were all present; the family ran out of wine. Without making a big fuss or embarrassing the groom He changed water into wine. I will tell you I was amazed and didn’t know what kind of man He was and the power He had. All I knew is that I wanted to be with this Rabbi because He was different and I wanted to learn from Him as much as I could.

Many times I heard Him say: “He had to go to Jerusalem, (the big city where the temple was) and there He would suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests, and teachers of the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised to life.” This was a new teaching which I didn’t understand till later; much later…I will tell you about it very soon! Can you wait?

Few days after Rabbi Jesus spoke about what would happen to Him in Jerusalem, He invited me, my older brother James and our fishing partner Peter to go with Him up the mountain to pray. I felt privileged to go with Him. I followed Him up the mountain. But by the time I got up to the top, I was exhausted…but not the Rabbi. He went alone for a long while and prayed. I didn’t hear what He was saying, but I knew something was on His mind.

While I was somewhat nodding off, I thought my eyes playing a trick on me. My Rabbi’s face began to shine, and all around Him a bright light radiated, and in the midst of that light, two men - Moses and Elijah appeared and they spoke to Him about all that was to happen to Him in Jerusalem. Somehow, I don’t know how, somehow I knew who they were, these other two, Moses and Elijah. It was thrilling! I was so humbled!

Dazed and in amazement I looked intently on the face of Jesus which was brighter than the Sun. His whole being changed from the inside out! I couldn’t believe my eyes (rub eyes). Was this a trick? What was happening here? What did I, John, just witness! While thinking about this, a cloud came over me my brother James and Peter. Together we heard, yes we did and I heard it: I really heard it!—this booming voice saying: “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to Him!” right there and then, I fell to the ground in fear and trepidation. I didn’t know what was happening. But something unusual just took place on that mountain, and I was an eye witness to it.

While still shaking from fear the hand of my Rabbi came upon me. He spoke saying: “Rise and have no fear.” Though, I was afraid, He calmed my spirit. It was a power like I had seen Him use on others as He spoke and they were healed of blindness, made able to speak, to walk, even to rise from a death bed. Now that same voice spoke, “Rise and have no fear!” and I was lifted up, and fear… it left me! Then He also told me not to say anything about this until after He rose from the dead. Have no fear! Wow!

I came down the mountain with Him and followed Him wherever He went. For 3 years I witnessed Him again and again do some mighty miracles. Lovingly, caringly and gently He healed some from blindness, others from leprosy, others He caused to walk and still others He raised from the dead. What a blessed time I had with my Rabbi Jesus.

After I had been with Him for 3 years, I went with Him and the other disciples to Jerusalem. He sent Peter and me to get a place ready for the Passover meal. That night He told me things that I will never forget—He again said, “He would be betrayed into the hands of the Jewish leaders and they would put Him to death but He will rise again”. His words had the same force they did up on that mountain where He spoke with Moses and Elijah, and then to me: I still didn’t understand what He was saying.

From the Upper Room I went with my Rabbi to another mountain, and there again, (rub my head and face) I hate to admit it I fell asleep while He went to pray off in a distance. By the look on His face and the sweat coming from His brow, I knew something was on His mind. That night on the Mountain of Olives in the Garden of Gethsemane He prayed and three times I fell asleep. He loved me, prayed for me, watched over me… and I… I slept! Three times!

But then I was awakened by the noise of soldiers coming, the lanterns burning and voices speaking. Right then, the soldiers of our High Priest grabbed Him and took Him. I followed in the distance and couldn’t believe what I was witnessing and hearing as they took Him to Caiaphas’ house. They mocked Him, spit on Him, pulled on His beard and then they slapped Him on the face. While I was still warming myself by the fire, I heard the sad and terrible news—they condemned Him to death.

But why? What has He done? This Rabbi taught like no other. He loved like no other. He gave like no other. Besides, He has never done any evil. He has never sinned. He has never done anything except teach the truth about God and His Kingdom. He taught the truth in the streets, in the Synagogues and the Temple. I couldn’t understand why they wanted Him put to death.

Early the next morning they dragged Him to Pilate’s Palace and He too, condemned Him to death by crucifixion. This can’t be happening. Something is wrong. I was afraid to speak up. I was afraid to say something to the High Priest, the soldiers and the crowd. I am sad to say, I stayed in the distant and watched in silence. 

After Pilate gave the orders, the soldiers grabbed Him and began the march to another mountain—Golgotha. Again, I was there on the mountain. I watched from a distance. You won’t believe what they did to Him. First they made a crown of thorns and pushed into His skull and blood began to drip down His face, on His beard, His garments and into the dusty soil. Then they stripped Him naked and laid Him on a huge rough beam. One soldier grabbed one hand and pulled it as hard as He could and took this huge nail and drove it into His body. Blood gushed out everywhere. I was hurting for Him, but He didn’t make any noise. Another soldier grabbed the other hand and did the same. I heard the hammer come down and again I saw the blood gush out. I was weeping. And still a third soldier drove a spike into His feet. PAUSE. 

They lifted the cross high on the mountain and a sign was placed above His head, “JESUS OF NAZARTEH KING OF THE JEWS”. I came closer and stood by the cross and watched Him intently. Then He spoke, not in anger but in words that have helped me many times in my sinful nature. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” I also heard Him say, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” And then I remembered the Psalm of David that taught what will happen to the promised Messiah. I slowly began to understand

As I stood on that mountain, darkness descended upon the Land for 3 hours like none-other I have ever seen. I heard Him speak yet again, “FATHER INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT!” And finally He spoke these words—oh, the words I heard Him say “IT IS FINISHED!” And with that He bowed His head and died. I cried to see my Rabbi dead at the hands of the Jewish leaders.

Some of my acquaintances Joseph of Arimathea along with Nicodemus took His body and laid Him in a tomb. What a sad day that was for me—the saddest I have ever witnessed and lived. But then a most amazing thing happened three days later. Word had come to me that the Messiah, my Rabbi had been raised from the dead. I didn’t believe the news. So I ran as fast as I could and Peter ran behind. I was a little faster because I am younger and stronger and got to the tomb first. It was open and no one was there.  

Was this a trick? Did someone steal His body? What was happening here? What did I, John, just witnessed! BUT THEN, in the evening while I was huddling behind closed doors with the others from fear of the Jews, He came. Yes, the Rabbi from Nazareth and spoke the most beautiful words. “Peace be with you.” Oh, how I needed to hear those words for my troubled heart. That same voice, that same reassuring voice that healed the sick; that raised the dead that caused crippled limbs to be made whole had just healed me, had just forgiven me. “Peace be with you!” and so it was – His voice, His Words, He Himself, He filled me with Peace! 

From the Glorious Mountain, to Gethsemane’s mountain, to Golgotha’s mountain I was there. I will tell you that it was an unbelievable journey of comfort and joy to my heart, because I learned that Jesus was more than just a Rabbi from Nazareth, more than a good Teacher, but He was and is My Savior and Lord who died for my sins and rose again to give me life eternal. Oh, thankfully, humbly I was with Him on the mountain. 

John leaves without saying a word. 

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