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The Wrong Mountain

March 6th 2011 by Joel Schultz

The sermon for Transfiguration Sunday is a little different because we a guest missionaries who spoke about their work among muslims in southern India as part of the message. Below is the text of pastor's portion of the message. For the whole presentation, click on the link to listen to the sermon.

Click here to download the audio

Transfiguration A – “The Wrong Mountain” – Matthew 17:1-9 – March 6, 2011

Gideon Lasco, an avid mountaineer, writes on his Web site of a recent trip in the Philippines. His group was attempting to climb Mount Malipunyo. Following the advice of some locals, they took what they thought was a shortcut, but after about an hour they realized they were on the wrong mountain. It sounds comical—“Oops, I climbed the wrong mountain!”—but from what I understand it’s more common than we may think to climb the wrong mountain. Well that is the same in our spiritual lives as well.

In today’s Gospel lesson today, Jesus takes three of His disciples up a high mountain to give them a glimpse of His glory – a glimpse of His identity. On that mount Peter, James, and John beheld His full glory and holiness. His face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light. This is the glory that He set aside to come down to this earth to be our Savior. And this glory was magnified in the appearance of Moses and Elijah. They are the representatives of the OT Scriptures. Their presence affirms that this Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior who had been spoken of throughout the Old Testament.

And if that testimony was not enough, God the Father then speaks: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” The Savior had come. The prophets had spoken; God had spoken. What a wonderful place that mount must have been. The disciples wanted to remain there. Why leave? They had beheld the glory of God. They had heard the voice from the cloud. They had seen Moses and Elijah. Why go down from this mountain? Peter wanted to build tents and just stay.

But they couldn’t stay, because despite Jesus’ revealed glory and power, it was ultimately the wrong mountain. This mountain did not grant access to the Father. Simply basking in the glory of Jesus could not bring salvation. Forgiveness of sins could not be accomplished on that mountain simply by dwelling in Jesus’ presence. Jesus knows that He must journey to another mountain.

People still go up the wrong “mountains” seeking God. Those wrong mountains, although there are many theologies that represent them, all involve works of the Law in order to reach up to God. They all involve my actions – my goodness, my good works, my rituals, my offerings, my keeping God’s law, etc. I am very pleased to have the Sorge (GEORGE) family with us today to share with us their work among the Mandivian people in southern India.

(Sorge presentation)

Jesus comes off the Mount of Transfiguration to turn His attention toward Jerusalem where He would climb another mountain – Mount Calvary. That was the mountain on which the plan of salvation was revealed in Jesus. On Mount Calvary, God revealed how far He would go to forgive our sin. Jesus’ holy life, death on Calvary, and resurrection is God’s plan of salvation. Through faith in Him, you are forgiven and have life. In Jesus, we know we are on the right mountain – the mountain of God’s grace through faith in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

Gideon Lasco, of “wrong mountain” fame, decided to climb “mount unknown” anyway. He noted that very few people climb it because there is really no view from its summit. The people of the world may stubbornly insist on climbing the wrong mountain and find nothing to see. But you, people of God, have been brought by Jesus to Mount Calvary, to see His glory in the salvation He won for you.

I hope what the Sorge’s have shared today has not simply been amazing stories and pictures of people in a far away land that are hearing about Jesus from very dedicated missionaries that the church has sent out to evangelize. But I hope they have made you think of people in your life who are climbing the wrong mountain in order to seek God. You do not need to be a missionary or a pastor to speak to a family member, a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor, your waiter or even your grocery clerk about Jesus. May He give you words and opportunity to speak of the hope, peace, life, and forgiveness you have in Jesus.

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