A Sermon on the Transfiguration and Healing/Deliverance
Good evening. So tonight, as you can see is a little unusual. I am leading the service and preaching,
while Nate+ goes off to lead children’s worship. It’s not typical for our lead pastor to not be here for the first part of the service, but this is a demonstration of how much we care for our children here at Crossroads Church and how much we take seriously the idea that our children are youngest disciples. It is so important to us in fact that Nate+ has decided that he will take turns in leading them in their worship time from time to time. We are really thankful for his servant’s heart.
So it is good to be with you tonight, after this big snow storm. I hope you all had an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this winter wonderland that is all around us. I am sure that for many of you, you are also tired from all the shoveling you had to do, so I am thankful that we are able to come together tonight to worship God, and I hope this time will serve as a time of refreshment for you.
So today our Gospel reading recounts to us the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration – that glorious event on the mountaintop where Jesus is transfigured or transformed into his divine glory right before the eyes of three of his disciples. I know we just heard the Gospel read, but let’s review the event for a minute, looking at some of the details.
So Jesus goes up on a mountain with Peter, James, and John to pray, and as Jesus is praying, the appearance of his face changes and his clothes become a dazzling white. And then Moses and Elijah, those great men of old representing the Law and prophets, appear besides him in glory.
This is then followed by a cloud overshadowing all of them on the mountain – a cloud which was no ordinary cloud, mind you, but the cloud of God’s presence which causes fear to rise up in the disciples.
From this cloud, God’s voice booms, “This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him.”
For sure, this is an absolutely magnificent scene. All throughout Jesus’ life, events such as his baptism and miracles had been pointing to his divine identity, but in this moment, his actual glory is revealed. Jesus is completely ablaze with light. As one commentator I read says, this light, “. . . shone not upon Him from without, but out of Him from within; He was all irradiated, was in one blaze of celestial glory.”
I love that – one blaze of celestial glory!
And I don’t think this commentator is exaggerating here in his description of Jesus. We do get this sense of Jesus ablaze from the original greek – the word translated here as dazzling white, exastapoun, literally means to flash like lighting. This Jesus, transfigured before his disciples, is very much like the Jesus we find in Revelation, with snow white hair and eyes like flames of fire. Jesus glorified! What an amazing picture of Jesus.
Well, this amazing moment of glory does not go by unnoticed by the disciples. In fact, it causes two things to happen among the three disciples up on the mountaintop with Jesus.
First, the disciples are weighed down by sleep.
Now some commentators say this is because it was night or because the disciples were just so tired from all they were doing with Jesus, but I stand with the commentators who say that this heaviness of sleep was
brought upon by the glory of God, which was just so overwhelming to them.
This fits well with the Hebrew word that the Israelites used for glory, kabod, which means heaviness, weightiness. The reality is that when we fully encounter the glory of God, we are
simply overwhelmed and weighed down because it is more than we can handle. You can think of a number of the folks in the Old Testament who when they encountered God fell to their faces. I
believe this is what the disciples experience in this moment.
Now the second thing that happens during the Transfiguration is Peter responds by offering to build 3 dwellings or tents, one each for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. There is something about that moment that Peter wishes to hold onto for as long as he can. So why not set up camp?
Interestingly enough though, as soon as Peter offers to do this, the cloud of God’s presence overshadows all of them, and Jesus is left alone.
This glory of God is not only something that overwhelms the disciples, but it is something that they cannot grasp onto as if it is their possession. Peter couldn’t possess it that day, and in the same vein, neither can we.
Oh but if only we could!
Like Peter, I believe that for many of us, if we had the chance, we would choose to camp out all day everyday on the mountaintop if we could continue to have a glimpse of Jesus’ glory.
Yet, interestingly enough, this is not what God calls us to do on this side of heaven.
Yes, we are to practice God’s presence in every moment of our lives, and yes God is gracious to us enough to provide us with mountaintop moments from time to time – those times when we feel especially close to God or understand him in a more full way or are just enraptured by his beauty and goodness, yet we are not to camp out there.
We need to descend the mountain, and that is of course what Jesus, James, Peter, and John do.
They descend the mountain, and what do they find at the bottom of the mountain? A demon possessed
boy who desperately needs healing and a father who is besides himself because of his son’s condition.
Unfortunately, the other disciples had not been able to deliver this boy and to bring him to health.
Why they weren’t able to do so, we don’t fully know and we must be careful here not to draw unhelpful conclusions – it definitely is a topic of discussion for later or especially for our time with Rev. Andrea next
What we do know though is that Jesus is able to heal the boy. If he had stayed up on the
mountain with the disciples that day, this boy would have gone unhealed. Thanks to Jesus, the boy is restored to full health. Praise be to God.
Now as I read this account of Jesus’ transfiguration, I can’t help but think that there is much for us to learn from this Gospel today.
As Anglicans and folks new to the Anglican way, we have a proclivity for loving beautiful worship services – with lovely vestments and altar accessories, lovely music, and inspiring liturgy – all things which can
point to, reveal, and help us experience the glory of God.
Now, this is all good, but unfortunately, our tendency can then be to get stuck here - to think that participating in a beautiful worship on Sunday is the most important part of how we live out our faith as
But friends, as much as we would like to, we can’t camp out here. We must descend the mountain.
It is why we end our worship times in the Anglican tradition with a dismissal such as “Let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit” or “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”
We are to go out into the world in the power of the Holy Spirit to serve and heal a broken world.
We are to come alongside those who are emotionally and physically sick, and demonically oppressed or influenced and bring healing to them, as God empowers us to do so.
Our life of faith is meant to be lived out every day of the week, not just on Sundays. It is meant to be as outward focused as it is inward and upward focused.
That is why we at Crossroads Church are moving in the direction of having several missional communities and ministry houses throughout Salem. In these communities, we will bring healing through
- befriending people,
- sharingthe Gospel message with them,
- providingcounsel and spiritual direction,
- going out together into Salem to seek the good of the city,
- making culture, and
- by even engaging in the healing and deliverance ministry.
I know that I am praying for folks with a particular charism in healing and deliverance ministries to join our community. I think this will something that is really important in Salem. Although as I say this, I do believe
this is something we are all called to do to one extent or the other, whether
this is our particular gift or not. This is the reason for having our healing prayer retreat.
Of course, our Sunday worship times together will remain important to us and we will seek to make them times that point to God’s goodness, love, and glory, but our worship services won’t be the end all be all
of our life together. They will be times for our whole community to gather together and celebrate what the Lord has already been doing with us all week long.
They will also serve as times of refreshment and healing for us so that we are empowered once again to go out the following week into the world. It is important for us to have our mountaintop experiences on Sunday because we too also need to be healed and delivered, and God meets us in special, life-giving ways through our worship of Him and through our partaking of His Body and Blood each week.
This is a great blessing for us, but we must not remain on top of the mountain. We must descend.
If we remain on the mountain, we will become like sponges that constantly take in water but never release it. You know what happens to those sponges? They get smelly and rotten. No, the water is to released. Likewise, we are descend the mountain and throughout the week, we are to release the blessings that we
have received on Sundays through our worship together.
And this is the good news friends in all this. As we go, Jesus goes with us.
As we think again on the Transfiguration experience, the glorious revealing of Jesus’ divinity and glory didn’t remain for long, but Jesus did. He went down that mountain too with the disciples, and when the disciples couldn’t deliver the boy, Jesus could.
Likewise, wherever we go, Jesus goes with us too, now through the power of the Holy Spirit who was given to us believers upon Jesus ascension to the Father. Those ecstatic experiences of Jesus come and go, but Jesus remains.
And because Jesus remains, we can therefore go confidently out into the world, loving, serving, and healing in Jesus’ name. And friends, there are a whole lot of people out there who need healing,
and they may not even know it, but we have been given power and authority by Jesus do
So as we leave this place, friends, let us walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, seeking out the lost and the sick - bringing them the good news of Jesus, and healing them in the power of Jesus’ name. Amen.
Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R.,
& Brown, D. (1997). Commentary
Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Lk 9:29). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos
Research Systems, Inc.