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  • Writer's picturePastor Jimmy Cason

Mountain Top Experiences

Please remain standing, as you're able, in honor of the reading of God's holy word coming to us today from Mark, chapter 9, verses 2 through 9.

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves, and he was transfigured before them and his clothes became dazzling white such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three dwellings one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah. He didn't know what to say, but they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them and from the cloud there came a voice this is my son the beloved. Listen to him. Suddenly, when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen until after the son of man had risen from the dead. 

This is the word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God. Please be seated. As always, Lord, I pray that you would deliver me from me, hide me behind the shadow of the cross, so that people see Jesus instead of me. And now, make the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, o Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen, amen. 

Oh Lord, my God

When I, in awesome wonder

Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made

I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder

Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee

How great Thou art, how great Thou art

This morning I want to talk about mountain top experiences, those pivotal moments in our lives when we experience life changing events. Your first kiss, your first date, getting your driver's license, the acceptance letter into the college of your choice, probably Mississippi State, your college graduation, your wedding day, your first job, the birth of a child, and I could go on and on. 

There's a mountain top experience happening this afternoon. Today's Super Bowl is a mountain top experience for the San Francisco 49ers and the players on Taylor Swift's team. They're playing for the Super Bowl ring to be champions of the NFL. 

Well, here's some interesting other facts about what will be happening during this game 1.3 billion chicken wings will be eaten. Americans will eat 11.2 million pounds of potato chips. 326 million gallons of beer will be consumed, Y'all go light on that. 139 million pounds of avocados will be sold. So after eating and drinking all of this, there will be a 20% increase in the sales of Alka-Seltzer and Pepto-Bismol. And how many will call in sick tomorrow? 

So yes, today is the culmination of several, several months of different teams playing. A mountain top experience. 

I love the mountains. Any time of year, even in the wintertime when you have all the leaves off the trees, there’s a honing beauty about the mountains. The mountains cause us to look up. The psalmist said I will lift up my eyes to the hills from which my help comes. My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. Today, our text leads us to the transfiguration, a key mountain top experience in the life and ministry of Jesus. 

According to Mark, Jesus and his disciples went all the way up to Caesarea Philippi at the base of Mount Hermon. I've never been there. There are two Caesareas, one by the sea, but the Caesarea Philippi is actually in the Golan Heights, not too far from the border between Israel and Lebanon. 

I was to lead a group to the Holy Land last month and I don't know how long it will be before we're able to go back to the Holy Land. 

But Caesarea Philippi was at the base of Mount Hermon and in the day of Jesus it was a hotbed of pagan worship. There were temples to Zeus and Pan and a host of other gods. 

It was here in the land of the Gentiles that Jesus asked his disciples, “who do others say that I am?” Some said John the Baptist, some say Elijah, but Jesus pushes the question but who do you say that I am? 

And this time Peter got the right answer. You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of a living God. And Jesus said Peter, flesh and blood did not reveal that to you. In other words, it wasn't because you were smart, but my Father in heaven, the Spirit of God, revealed that to you. 

Six days later, Mark’s Gospel says, Jesus took Peter and James and John with him and they went to the top of a mountain.

When thru the woods and forest glades I wanderAnd hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,When I look down from lofty mountain grandeurAnd hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze,

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;How great Thou art, how great Thou art!Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

And then there's a spooky scene. All of a sudden they look at Jesus and his clothes are brighter. I mean, the glory of the Lord is shining upon him. The scripture says no amount of Clorox could have bleached his clothes as white as they were. 

And then, all of a sudden, two people, Moses and Elijah. They appear up there. Now, why Moses and Elijah? 

We see Moses had climbed another mountain, mount Sinai, where the Ten Commandments were delivered to him. He was considered the law giver. 

And Elijah, you remember? He climbed a mountain, he climbed Mount Carmel and there defeated the gods of Baal and Jezebel. And you may remember that Elijah never died. He was taken up into heaven without dying. There were those who believed that the Messiah would be Elijah, since he had never died, that the Messiah would be Elijah coming back as a Messiah. 

So here is the law giver and here is the prophet, and they're both saying to Peter, James and John we are not the Messiah. Here is the Messiah, here is the one and only Messiah that you've been waiting for. 

And then God speaks, sort of like he did when Jesus was baptized. There was a voice from heaven saying this is my son, the beloved. Listen to him. And so here is God, the Creator of the universe. Here is the law giver, Moses. Here is Elijah the prophet. They're all saying this is the one you need to listen to. 

Peter kind of likes the idea of being up there on the mountain. 

He says you know, I think we ought to stay up here and I think we ought to build three tents One for Moses, one for Elijah and one for Jesus. This is so wonderful. It is. It's wonderful to be up on top of the mountain, but Jesus knew he couldn't stay there. 

Jesus knew that we couldn't stay with the turning point events in our lives. We get that driver's license and then we realize that there's insurance to pay, and then there's the police that you need to look after and you need to obey the speed limit and there are all kinds of issues that go along with that obtaining the driver's license.

That acceptance letter from your favorite college. Then you realize you've got to study and you know there are some classes that you take, that the books that are thick, that you're supposed to read and they're boring. But that comes along with the mountaintop experience of getting that acceptance letter. 

And then your wedding. Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could just hear wedding bells every single day? But every day is not your wedding day, every day is not a honeymoon. You come back to the needy gritty of life. Jesus also knew that, while we cannot stay on the mountaintop, that he had one more mountain, that he had to climb, mount Calvary, where he would give His life for us. 

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in –That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,He bled and died to take away my sin!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;How great Thou art, how great Thou art!Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Life is full of turning points. 

That accident changed her life. 

That DUI ticket was the wake-up call he needed. As far as I know, he never took another drink. 

I thought all was lost when the business failed. Turns out it was a blessing in disguise. 

Giving up an old habit. Recovering alcoholics celebrate their birthday not on the day they were born but on the day that they stopped drinking. 

Robert Frost spoke of turning points when he wrote, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and, sorry, I could not travel both and be one traveler Long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth, though, as for that, the passing there had warned them, really about the same. I shall be telling this with a sigh. Somewhere, ages and ages hence, two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

The greatest turning point, the greatest mountain top experience in our lives might just be what we do with this passage. Peter said Jesus was the Christ. Moses said Jesus was the Christ. Elijah said Jesus was the Christ. The voice of God said Jesus was the Christ. 

But it does not matter what others say, what say you?

CS Lewis was an intellectual who came to Christ through studying the historical facts of the Gospel. He's written many books. One of my favorites is is Mere Christianity. And in Mere Christianity, CS Lewis talks about the notion that every religion on earth makes the claim that Jesus was a great moral teacher. They don't necessarily believe he was the Christ, that he was the Messiah. But CS Lewis says Jesus does not give us the option of just saying that Jesus was a great moral teacher. 

He goes on to write that we have three choices when it comes to Jesus, Jesus is either a liar or a lunatic, or a lord. The idea of Jesus being a great moral teacher is not an option that Jesus gives us. 

So we say he's a liar. He claimed to be the Messiah, he claimed to be God, but he knew he wasn't. He just lied about it. But do we consider liars to be great moral teachers? Well, he was crazy, he was a lunatic. I mean, you just have to excuse him because he really didn't know what he was saying. And there are plenty of people in mental institutions that claim to be God. But we don't consider lunatics to be great moral teachers. 

So CS Lewis says well, if he's not a liar, if he's not a lunatic, the only other choice that Jesus leaves us with is to call him Lord. 

Is he your Lord? Not just your Savior, but is he your Lord? 

And regardless of what other people say we're not taking a poll here Regardless of what other people say, is he the Lord of heaven and earth? Is he your Lord? Is he your Lord in your daily life? 

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamationAnd take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!Then I shall bow in humble adorationAnd there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;How great Thou art, how great Thou art!Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

As you leave this church and know, even though the preacher might want you to stay longer. But when you leave this church and go out either of these doors, wouldn't it be wonderful if you saw the sign, “You are now entering the mission field” and when you drive away from wherever you parked, you realized that you were driving into the mission field because you've come down from the mountain and it's our job to let other people know that the same Lord of our life can be their Lord as well. 


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