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He Was Transfigured Before Them, February 11, 2024

Mark 9:2-9, Oh my what a ride!  We had 10 teenagers, three adults, and gear for an 8-day youth mission heading to Houston, Texas to help with Hurricane Rita Recovery, in an old Chevy van with almost no  air conditioning in JULY of 2005.  Most of the kids were from Wright City Churches.

                    Such a grueling 14-hour ride, over two days.  We pulled into the church parking lot that would be our home over the next 7 days.  As we climbed out of the van, stretching as we walked to the church, my phone rang.  It was Anabel Houston’s son.  I stepped away from the group to talk privately.  He was really upset with his mother; she told the family the she was going to quit taking dialysis.  My friends, if you’re on dialysis and quit, your not going to live very long.  Anabel and her family were members of the Wesley-Smith Chapel on Hwy. J where I was pastor there, and I was also pastor at Open Hearts UMC on Bell Road.

                    I asked Anabel’s son, “Are you wanting me to come back to Wright City?”  He answered, “Oh Yes!  Please!”  I prayed with him and told him I would be back as soon as I could. 

                    My next call was to Southwest Airlines, I knew the other two adults could lead the group just fine. 

                    Why did Jesus pick Peter, James, and John to go with him up the mountain.  Maybe because they had shown Jesus there were to be trusted and they were ready to be transformed

                    When Jesus took his best friends to the mountain top with him; he didn’t tell them what was going to happen! 

                    Bam!!  Suddenly they were blinded by the light!!  Then couldn’t see, then their eyes adjusted and Jesus was shining!! 

          TERRIFIED!!  I’m sure they we terrified at first!!

                    Jesus was transfigured.  Peter, James, and John were terrified       and then they were transformed.

                    These three men were fishermen, until Jesus called them into his circle.  These three were present with Jesus during special events.  They witnessed Jesus raise Jairus’s daughter from the dead and Peter, James, and John accompanied Jesus while He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36–38).  And now they were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ transfiguration.

                    Thus, these three witnessed Jesus’ greatest moments of glory and His darkest trials.  They were His closest friends.  Hanging with Jesus helps us grow our faith.

                    Today I am talking about a person walking with Jesus that will change them from living their way, to living GOD’S Way;

          a Spiritual Transformation!  One of the very best ways for GOD to transform us is through being part of a small group of Christians.

          In 1988 as Hope and I got back into church after our son, Jacob was born and Hope was pregnant with Sarah, I started to hear GOD’S call again on my life.  I argued with GOD.  I was a school teacher, I had a ministry.  I didn’t want to change anything.  We had a good thing going. 

          Sometimes people hear GOD’S calling them and they stick their fingers in their ears; like I did in my teens and early twenties.  Some people say they don’t want to change.  They’re fine just the way they are, they think.  BUT my friends, anyone who really knows Jesus, wants to change to be more like Jesus

          We can be transformed from being less than we can be, TO BEING THE BEST WE CAN BE!  We can be more like Jesus

                    As Christians, meaning “little Christs,” we are called to be more and more like Jesus Christ as we mature; as we are sanctified. 

                    Our call from God, is to be more like Jesus every day, in every way.  If we truly open our hearts, minds, and spirits to GOD, GOD will clean us up from the inside out!

                    Today is Transfiguration Sunday; we celebrate the day when Jesus was transfigured/transformed by God’s power. 

          Jesus brought his disciples Peter, James and John who became witnesses to this awesome event.  The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ is also found in Matthew and Luke, besides our scripture today, from Mark. 

                    Today’s scripture begins, ‘Six days later…”  So what happened 6 days earlier?  Let me set the stage.  Please, hear God’s Word that came just before today’s Scripture.  I’ll start at from Mark 8:27 and following, from the Message Translation.  “When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?"  They replied, "Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets."

          He pressed them, "And how about you?  Who do YOU say I am?"  Now Folks, that’s a real good question for each of us to answer. 

          “Who is Jesus to You?”  Answering that question alone will decide how you live your life!!  IF Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you will do what he says and follow his ways.  

          We can prepare to come to worship, reading the scripture in advance; praying for Pat Golden, our Director of Music; praying for our Worship Team Leader and Liturgist-Linde Flanders; praying for me to deliver the message that God has given me. 

          We can pray for every person that worships with us here in our sanctuary or watching online, to be changed by God’s Word!!  We are PRAYING THAT YOU WILL BE TRANSFORMED BY GOD’S WORD!!

          Mark 8:39, “Simon Peter said, "You're the Messiah, the Son of the living God."  Jesus came back, "God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah!  You didn't get that answer out of books or from teachers.  My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. 

          “Then Jesus made it clear to his disciples that it was now necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, submit to an ordeal of suffering at the hands of the religious leaders, be killed, and then on the third day be raised up alive.  Peter took him in hand, protesting, "Impossible, Master!  That can never be!" 

          But Jesus didn't swerve.  "Peter, get out of my way.  Satan, get lost.  You have no idea how God works."  “Then Jesus went to work on his disciples.

          “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.  You're not in the driver's seat; I am.  Don't run from suffering; embrace it.  Follow me and I'll show you how. 

          “Self-help is no help at all.  Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your TRUE self.  “What kind of deal is it, to get everything you want but lose yourself?  What could you ever trade your soul for?  ‘Don't be in such a hurry to go into business for yourself.” 

          The Transfiguration naturally follows this statement/ revelation of Jesus as “Messiah, the Son of the living GOD.”

          The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ serves as a point in between this world and the world to come.  In the Transfiguration, the LAW and the PROPHETS become embodied in Elijah and Moses.  God speaks.  GOD has helped us make this direction connection from the law and the prophets of the past: THE POWER OF THE MOMENT OF TRANSFIGURATION!!  And the future of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.  This scene gives us hope that God has not given up on this world.

          Now today’s Scripture Mark 9:2 and following: “Six days later, three of them did see it.  Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain.  His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes.  “His clothes shimmered, glistening white, whiter than any bleach could make them.”

          My Friends, other translations say that Jesus was transformed or transfigured; a Greek word meaning metamorphosis like a caterpillar to cocoon to a butterfly. 

          Verse 4, “Elijah, along with Moses, came into view, in deep conversation with Jesus.  Peter interrupted, "Rabbi, this is a great moment!  “Let's build three memorials - one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah."  He blurted this out without thinking, stunned as they all were by what they were seeing.” 

          Friends, I know these disciples were terrified!!  Peter was nervous, so he started talking.

          Peter wanted to hold on to this mountain-top experience and I can’t blame him.  Verse 7, “Just then a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and from deep in the cloud, a voice: "This is my Son, marked by my love.  Listen to him."  The next minute the disciples were looking around, rubbing their eyes, seeing nothing but Jesus, only Jesus.

                    “Coming down the mountain, Jesus swore them to secrecy.  "Don't tell a soul what you saw.  After the Son of Man rises from the dead, you're free to talk."  They puzzled over that, wondering what on earth "rising from the dead" meant.”

          This is the Word of The Lord!  Thanks be to God!

          The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, Transformed Peter, James and John!! 

          Peter wanted to stay in the middle of this wonderful mountain top experience with Jesus, and the prophets, Moses and Elijah; but Jesus lead them back down the mountain, back to the valley to do their ministry.

          Martin Luther, John and Charles Wesley, Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, were all transformers by my definition. 

          Jesus was the first and after the out pouring of God’s Holy Spirit at Pentecost all of us have the potential to be transformers.  So how do we get there? 

          Please carefully read Paul’s letter to the Romans Chapter 12:1 and 2, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” 

          “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

          Have you ever met someone who was totally transformed; that the light of GOD shinned through?  I have!!  Mrs. Anabel Houston!! Remember the lady I told you about at the beginning of this message.  She told her family that she was not going to take dialysis treatments anymore.  Her family was not happy with her. 

                    As I flew back to St. Louis I prayed that GOD would help me to be able to be there for this family as they were saying good bye to their wife, mother, sister, grandmother, friend, their Matriarch. The next day I went to visit Mrs. Anabel Houston.  Oh my!! Such a blessing!!  She was doing just fine!! 

          She was at home with her decision.  She had been doing dialysis for 13 years and she said she was tired and her body was “plum wore out!!” 

          I was shocked, that after we talked and prayed and discussed her family, as I walked to my car, I felt so much better than when I was walking in. 

          I came to realize that Mrs. Houston was so close to GOD, deeply connected to GOD.  She was sanctified; totally sanctified; so close to GOD she radiated GOD’S love to everyone who came into her room.  She was righteous!!  She had a right relationship with GOD.

          People came into her room mad, in tears, and hurt that Mrs. Houston was going to die.  That she was choosing to die.  After they talked with her, and prayed with her, and loved on her;       they walked out the door singing GOD’S praises!!  Mrs. Anabel Houston was a divine light for GOD while she was still on this earth.

          TRANSFORMATION!!  BE TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF YOUR MIND. 

          In Mark 12 Jesus was asked which was the most important commandment and he said,

          “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' 

                    The second is this, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

          God is calling each of us to be transformers.  

          Mrs. Anabel Houston was transformed and she was helping others take those steps towards GOD.

          Let God’s love transform you into TRANSFORMERS! 

          Loving GOD and Loving our neighbors!

          Let us pray…

         

          We sang, “Lord, Dismiss Us With Your Blessings.”

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