Sermon: A Mountaintop Vision
Scripture: Mark 9: 2 – 10
Mountain top experiences – it is an expression we use to describe something wonderful, something extraordinary when we say these words – it was incredible is what we mean when we’re trying to describe a “mountain top” experience. It affects us. It moves us. It is often like a vision. It often changes us.
And for mountain climbers and those who actually get to climb to the top of a mountain – it is described as being something so incredible, so awesome, so sweeping, that they can hardly find the words to express the reality of being there – literally – at the very summit, the peak, the top of the mountain. It affects them. The vision, the panorama, that they are privileged to see changes them. It changes their vision in a perspective way, too. They see the world and themselves in a different way.
We know whenever someone in the Bible heads up a mountain, it is usually a special occasion. It usually marks a mission of some sort, and often God is there. Moses meets God on Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, and later, God takes Moses up a mountain to show him the Promised Land. In our scripture reading, we see Jesus taking Peter, James and John up a mountain, and we believe this mountain to be Mount Tabor, 1,886 feet high, west of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus goes to the top of this mountain because he is on a mission. While there, he is literally transfigured before their eyes – his appearance changes. His face becomes shining like the sun and his clothes are white as light. The disciples witness the kingly, heavenly glory of Jesus.
And the disciples witness something else – they see a vision. They see Moses and Elijah – those two great prophets – in the midst of Jesus. They hear a voice saying: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” God is there and God speaks. Moses, Elijah, God and Jesus are there on a mission on this mountain top, for they are there to talk with Jesus and consult together about his ministry. Jesus seeks divine direction and guidance for the vision of his ministry. Where Jesus was heading. What he was to do. Jesus is to bring God’s revelation, God’s salvation to the world, and Jesus receives an ordained vision on this mountain top which directs him and tells him what he is to do. The disciples are privileged to see this vision, to see the glory of Jesus, and to be present. When they are coming down from the mountain top, Jesus gives orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until “the Son of Man had risen from the dead,” (Mark 9: 9). The disciples wonder what this means, “rising from the dead.” But Jesus knows. He is headed to the cross. And rising from the dead.
When we look at the lives of the disciples, we see the difficulties, the challenges, the turmoil and persecution they lived through because of their connection and their faith in Jesus. But an experience like this, this Mountaintop Vision, must have given them the strength and endurance they needed to continue doing the work of Christ despite the trials that came their way. And this mountaintop experience gave them a glimpse of something else – they were privileged to see beyond their normal physical world. They literally had a glimpse of glory – God’s realm.
I’d like to encourage us this morning, we modern-day disciples of Jesus Christ, we members of his church, that we are privileged, too, to see and take part in God’s realm and God’s vision for us. God and the Holy Spirit are in our midst. The Spirit of Christ is in our midst. In faith, God has a vision for each one of us. And I invite us to go to the mountain top with Jesus and see the panoramic view he wishes to show us. Our vision and our perceptions will change. We will be affected. We will be directed to act, for it is Christ’s mission at work. Believe that as Jesus’ ministry was part of God’s vision for our world, we are part of God’s mission, too. To bring Christ’s salvation to the world. To bring the good news, the gospel of Jesus, to the world. To pray for the voice of Jesus to guide us and believe that we are included in his mission, too.
With the image of Jesus on the Mount of transfiguration with his disciples, can you imagine that you are there, too? I want you to picture this setting with you there, and I invite you to close your eyes. Clear your mind of all mental clutter. Put yourself in the place of Peter, James or John on the top of the mountain – Jesus is there with you – he becomes transfigured before your very eyes – he becomes dazzling white – you see Moses and Elijah talking to Jesus – a cloud of God’s glory comes over you, and you hear the words of the Father: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
What is your response? Are you listening?
What does Jesus say to you?
Do you sense what Jesus wants you to do?
What is his mission for you?
Are you willing to listen to Jesus throughout your life?
If what Jesus said is significant and encouraging to you, if you feel good and right about it, then do it. You are part of Jesus’ mission.