Sharing What We Have Heard – Audio Sermon
I have often wondered what God looks like. Scripture gives us some fleeting idea’s as to God’s form, but nothing concrete. In the first chapter of Genesis we do not get a description of God, but we do learn that God has a voice. God speaks creation into existence. Later in that chapter we learn that God created humanity in his image.
Move forward a few chapters to the story of Adam and Eve. After the fruit has been eaten we learn that Adam and Even hear the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze. So God has a physical form or is capable of taking one on and walking.
Moses asks to see God’s face and is told that such a sight would kill him. However, God allows Moses to look upon his back as he walks past. However, we do not read that God will walk past, but rather God’s glory will pass by and Moses will look upon his back.
It leaves us wondering just what does God look like? Does our being formed in God’s image mean God has arms and legs or is that passage from Genesis referring to something spiritual?
Hollywood would tell us that God looks like George Burns or Morgan Freeman.
Of course we can also say that God looks like a human. We could point to Jesus and say that this is what God looks like. At least God in the form of the Son.
In our story this morning Jesus is up on a mountain with Peter, James and John. We read that a change came over Jesus. Other versions read that Jesus became transfigured and his clothes became dazzling white.
What does it mean to be transfigured? What exactly was this change? Not being up on that mountain with them I can only assume that at that moment the change that came over Jesus displayed his divine power. That in that moment Jesus, God with us, became closer to God the Father. That Peter, James and John witnessed the glory of Christ.
Then a voice from a cloud states “This is my own dear Son – listen to him!”
Listen to him. That’s what God has to say.
Have you ever met brand new parents? They are holding that precious new child. Is the first words out of your mouth, listen to him? Or is it look at him. He’s so cute. Isn’t he beautiful. Perhaps we get comparisons, he has your eyes. She looks so much like her mum.
What we do not normally hear is “Listen to him!”
Yet, this is what God does. Jesus has been transfigured, he is radiant. For all intents he is on display to Peter, James and John. What we are told is that we should listen to him.
Listen to him.
Do what he says.
Three people say something in this passage: Peter, God and Jesus.
Peter says “Teacher, how good it is that we are here! We will make three tents, on for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
God says “This is my own dear Son – listen to him!”
Jesus says “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has risen from death.”
Let’s consider what each of these individuals has said.
Peter is with Jesus who in the previous chapter he has declared is the Messiah. However, he wants to stay up on the mountain with Jesus, Moses and Elijah. He wants to build a house from them to live in away from the world. After saying this he, James and John are confounded and don’t know what to say. You can well imagine.
Peter often gets painted in a poor light for this passage. But if you were on a mountain with Jesus, who you believed to be the Messiah and two of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament showed up and Jesus was bathed in brilliant light what would you do? You’d probably bow down and worship. You might not want to leave. So I don’t think we should be too hard on Peter.
Next come the words from God. This is my son, listen to him. Listen to him and do what he says. He teaches the truth about my law, about how I should be understood.
So let’s hold onto what God has said, Listen to him.
Before we move to Jesus let’s review. Jesus is on a mountain with Peter, John and James. They know Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is transfigured and bathed in light. Then Moses and Elijah show up and talk to Jesus.
A cloud rolls in and a voice from the cloud says this is my son, listen to him. Afterwards Jesus is the only one with the disciples. Moses and Elijah are gone.
Jesus goes down the mountain and he says and this is important because we are supposed to do what he says. God has just told us this. Jesus says tell no one what you have seen, until the Son of Man has risen from the death.
Do not tell people what you have seen.
Friends, what do we do with what we have heard?
The only thing we know for sure that the disciples have heard are the words of God. “This is my Son – listen to him!”
Let’s put ourselves in the position of Peter, James and John. We are not allowed to tell anyone of what we have just seen. However, we can talk about what we have heard.
The question is how should we do it? We have just come down from this mountain top experience, excited, elated and confused. How do we share what we have heard?
Do we find the first soap box we can and declare it for all to hear? This is God’s Son! Listen to him!
Or is there another way to be heard?
Do we need to only listen with our ears?
A remarkable story is told immediately after this one. Jesus, Peter, James and John join the other disciples. A crowd gathers and a father asks Jesus to heal his son. When Jesus drives out that spirit he says to it “You spirit that keeps this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out…”
Let’s put this all together in sequence.
God says listen to Jesus, he is my son.
Jesus says don’t talk about what you have seen.
Jesus then drives a spirit out of a boy so that the boy can hear and speak.
How do we talk about Jesus? We talk about Jesus by doing the things we see. Jesus doesn’t want us to go around bragging about the things he has done. Jesus doesn’t need us to declare his glory. Jesus needs us to do the work of the kingdom. Doing the work of the kingdom, declares the kingdom.
Friends, rather than telling the world that Jesus came to heal us and to set us free. Let’s us, you and me, go out into the world to heal people and set them free in Jesus’ name.
That is what mountain top experiences are about. They are transformative; they move us from one state of being to the next. Today on the doorstep of Lent, at the beginning of the journey towards Jerusalem, staring the cross in the face and knowing the promise of the resurrection let’s be transformative together.
Let’s talk about Jesus, by doing the work of the Kingdom. Let’s talk about Jesus by healing people. Let’s talk about Jesus by feeding people, visiting people and loving people. Let’s do it in a way that forces people to sit up and take notice. That shakes them out of their complacency and makes them ask in whose name we do we do these things.
Then when they ask we can tell them that we do these things in the name of Jesus and we can share the hope that we have in him. Amen.