Damariscotta Baptist Church
Monday, May 21, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

03/01/15 Sermon - A Glimpse of Ultimate Reality

“A Glimpse of Ultimate Reality”

Mark 9:2-13

 

Today’s Scripture is what is known as the “transfiguration” of Jesus Christ. The definition of transfiguration is:

trans·fig·u·ra·tion

noun

noun: transfiguration; plural noun: transfigurations

1.      a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state.

 

 

Up until this point in history, the word had not been invented. Jesus was the first to be transfigured. The Greek meaning of the word = our word for “metamorphosis . You know the process a caterpillar undergoes when she starts out as a caterpillar and goes into a chrysalis state and comes out as a butterfly.

 

In a way, that is what Jesus did, twice.

 

Jesus has always existed as the holy, radiant, Son of God. His first metamorphosis was when he came to earth, into a human body, as a baby in a manger and remained in that chrysalis state until he re-entered heaven after his resurrection.

 

Except, for this particular incident, we are reading about today, when Jesus is on the top of a high mountain, and he gives a glimpse of His ultimate reality to Peter, James and John.

 

Although I did not plan for this to happen, it is a coincidence that today’s Lenten Movie is “To Kill a Mockingbird”. The movie that was adapted from Harper Lee’s book of the same title.

 

How many of us have either read the book or watched the movie?

 

I think this movie is on my top ten list of favorite movies.  The reason this movie fits into our Lenten Series is because it represents the Lenten theme of “conviction”. And for those of you who are going to stay after church and watch it with me, that is as much as I will say about that topic for now.

 

But this movie also represents, on a human level, the idea of transfiguration.

 

 

 

The movie is set in the rural South, during the Great Depression. Atticus Finch is a small town lawyer who risks his reputation by defending Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping and beating a young white woman. Atticus is a widower, who is left to raise his young son, Jem and daughter, Scout, aided only by his African American housekeeper.

 

The children’s relationship with their father is close, and a bit unusual, as they address him by his first name, Atticus, rather than by the title, “father” or “dad”. Up until one particular day he has been just “ole’ Atticus”, by no means special since he refused to play on the local baseball team, like so many other fathers.

 

Atticus undergoes a kind of “transfiguration” – far from miraculous, though – in the eyes of his children, Jem and Scout, none the less, transfigured.

 

 

On this particular day, a mad dog, foaming at the mouth is spotted in the street, near the Finch home. Sheriff Tate arrives with his rifle, but when he sees Atticus, he gives the weapon to him and asks him to shoot. The children are very surprised at this. Atticus calmly takes aim and fires.

The dog falls in its tracks. The children are wide-eyed, especially when the sheriff tells them that their father is regarded as the best shot in the county. The children had never dreamt of such a thing of “ole” Atticus.

 

Atticus has been transfigured in their eyes. They will never be able to look or think of their father as just their old dad any more.

 

We also see another type of transfiguration in this movie. This time revealed through the innocence of a child.

 

In this particular scene, both children see their father’s courage on display one night in front of the courthouse when a would-be lynch mob arrives to drag Tom Robinson out of jail. The sheriff, needing to go out of town, had asked Atticus to sit in front of the jail in case of such an event, hoping that his friend’s presence would prevent violence. The children had awakened, and not finding their father at home, had gone out seeking him. They rush to his side, and Scout, in a naïve but effective manner, defuses the situation when she spies the father of one of her classmates and addresses him by name.

Talking to the man about his son, she slows down and stops, beginning to realize the tenseness of the situation. She apologizes to the man, and he replies that no offense was taken. He says to the other men that they should go home.

 

This is an amazing scene showing that when members of a mob are led to regain their individual identities, as men, and fathers, the mob is “transfigured” back to a group of individual persons.

 

Through the superb writing of Harper Lee we can begin to understand the concept of transfiguration. The opening of door or window of understanding of someone else that immediately reveals

 

 

“a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state.”

 

Now, what about the transfiguration of Jesus? 

 

Last week we left the disciples totally confused by Jesus’ statement that he would need to die, and that he would rise again three days later.

Not only was their leader going to die, Jesus was telling the disciples that they too had to be willing to lose their life. Jesus was giving them the negative side of being one of his followers. We did read at the end of last week’s passage that Jesus did give them some hope. Jesus told them that at least some of them would not die until they had seen the kingdom of God come with power, a bit of hope with the impending doom.

 

In today’s Scripture that bit of hope is revealed, six days later. Jesus takes only three of his disciples, Peter, James and John, up a mountain with him to experience the kingdom of God.

 

I don’t know about you, but my mind is asking a question, it’s close to the question I asked last week after reading that only some of the disciples would not taste death until they saw the kingdom of God come to power.

 

Last week’s question was, which disciples? Today’s Scripture answers that question, but that leads me to ask, “Why Peter, James and John?”

Many theologians think these men were chosen because of their roles of leadership they ended up playing in the early church. This was not the only time they were singled out. If you remember, these three men were the ones Jesus took when He raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead. These three will also be the three Jesus takes with him into the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his crucifixion. They may look like they are special or “chosen” but the reality is, they are the ones who have spent more intimate time with Jesus. And during the time spent with Jesus, they have been able to see Jesus for who He really is. This is just like Jem & Scout’s view of Atticus. It was through an event they went through together, that the children found out an attribute of their father that opened their eyes to what he was really like.

 

This is the same for us today.

 

It is by experiencing events in our lives, with Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, who have been invited into the event, that we begin to see attributes of God we never knew. God then becomes transfigured in our minds.

And the more we experience the glimpses of the ultimate reality of who God is – the more we want to keep inviting God into our lives. The more God is in our lives, the closer we become.  Those that are closer, see more of His glory and power, than those who chose to stay farther away.

 

You see, the distance between us and God,

is dependent upon us.

 

James 4:8 reads, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

 

The ability to be in God’s presence and experience His kingdom is completely up to us.

 

At this point, we have Jesus, Peter, James and John on a mountain top. The same account is recorded by Luke and in his account the three men fall asleep. While they are sleeping, Jesus sheds his human veil and reveals his true self. His clothes become dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.

And he has some visitors, Elijah and Moses show up and they start having a conversation. Well, the three men wake up and they are frightened.

This is not the same man they had walked up the mountain with, and somehow they immediately recognize the two dead men, Moses and Elijah.  Impetuous Peter, opens his mouth and states how glad he is to be there and then he suggests they build shelters for the three of them.

 

God doesn’t seem to like the suggestion, because He appears in a cloud and proclaims, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!”

 

Then “POOF”, everything is back to the way it was. Suddenly they look around and there is no one there with them but Jesus, who is now back to his human state.

 

The words God spoke to Peter are still good words for us to follow today. We need to remember that Jesus is God’s Son, whom He loves and who we need to listen to.

 

Let’s face it, there are many times we try to get right with God by being good or by doing religious things. This may be nice, but it is certainly not going to be what gets us right with God.

 

There is only one way to get right with God, and God just said it. “Listen to Him!” Listen to Jesus. Keep your eyes on Jesus.

 

One of the things Jesus said, we should listen to, is in

 

John 14:6  where Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

 

He also said in

 

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.”

 

Today we are going to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. The ordinance given to us by Jesus to help us remember the things we have learned today through this Scripture.

 

It is God’s desire that all of his creation turn to Him and desire to be close to Him.

 

Intimacy with God is only a will away.

 

Your will.

 

As we partake of the bread and the juice, let us take time to draw closer to God.  May your will be to be more intimate with God.

 

Remember James 4:8 reads, “Draw close to Him and He will draw close to you.”

 

Also as we remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us, let us remember and listen to his words.

 

 “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

 

Let us accept, his sacrifice, for our sins, so that we may enter into his presence.

And as we enter, let us come to Jesus and lay down our burdens and those things that keep us from experiencing the fullness of Christ at the foot of the cross, and He will give us rest.

 

The Lord’s Supper.

 

Prayer.