That music is so dramatic. I kind of can’t wait to see what comes out of my mouth. Well, uh, happy Super Bowl Sunday. Happy. Let’s get some applause for that. Happy Taylor Swift Day. Happy Transfiguration Sunday. Okay, I’m so glad that got the loudest applause. At least we know we have our priorities in the right place. Alright, so before you get filled up, and I know you will, don’t deny it, wings, nachos, let’s get fed with some spiritual food, okay? Alright. So I have a question for you. Why was the Holy Ghost asked to join the Super Bowl football team? Wait for it. They needed a little team spirit. Okay, but don’t, don’t tell me you’re not going to share that later today. Okay, so today’s theme is open mouth insert foot. Yeah, have you ever been guilty of that? Okay, well, as you’ve already guessed, since I chose this as the theme, I have. More than one time. I’m going to share a really embarrassing story with you.
So, when I was little, teacher asked us, Well, what does your mother do? And I said, Well, my mom’s a lady of the night. Okay, I had no idea what that expression meant. What I was trying to explain is that my mom had a skin condition and so she would avoid the sun and go out after dark. Of course, you can imagine the conversation I had when I got home from school with my mother. Yeah. Open mouth. Insert foot. So there’s definitely those times in our life when we’d like a do over. Because we’re unaware of the impact of the words that come out of our mouth. So if maybe this is describing you, perhaps you’ll have some empathy for Peter in our gospel today. So what I’d like you to do is to open up your Bibles, or you can look at the screen, and we’re going to look at Mark, chapter 9, verses 2 through 8. And after six days, Jesus took with him Peter. James and John. And he led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them. And his clothes became radiant, intensely white, like no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared with them Elijah and Moses. And they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, Rabbi, it’s so good that we’re here. Let’s make three tents. One for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. For you didn’t know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice out of the cloud said, This is my beloved son, listen to him. And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them. But Jesus only this is the word of the Lord Will you join me in prayer good and gracious God I just ask that I Decrease we all decrease so that you and your truth may be shared through this message today Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ Amen, so have any of you had a mountaintop experience? So, my husband, Jeff, who’s sitting right over there next to our goddaughter, Paisley. Uh, we live at the base of the Superstition Mountains, and we love to hike. And, if any of you have seen the Superstition Mountains the last couple of days, boy, God’s been putting on a great show. Beautiful snow, right? But, I still have to say, we’ve never had a mountaintop experience quite like Peter, James, and John. Those three got quite an earful and an eyeful, didn’t they? And I have to say that I think if my husband and I ever have an opportunity to see God like that, it means we’re dead. But these guys weren’t dead.
They were very much alive. And they were experiencing something they had never seen before. And will never see again until Christ’s return. They are seeing Jesus in all his glory. This truly is a mountaintop experience. And yet, poor Peter’s mouth is going to get him into trouble. Because you see, right before this gospel reading You just heard what happened six days earlier, and this is where Peter and all the other Apostles arrived at a place called Caesarea Philippi. There’s a picture of Caesarea Philippi, and that’s my husband Jeff standing in front of what’s called the grotto and that’s where a statue of Pan would be. Now Pan looks nothing like my husband because it’s a goat man. Jeff is not. So Caesarea Philippi was the center of pagan worship. And this is the place that Jesus has chosen to say to his apostles, who do people say that I am? And they’re like, well, some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, some say one of the prophets. It’s like, no, no, who do you say that I am? Peter. Gotta love him. He pipes right up and he declares, you are the Christ! Touchdown. Yes! Correct answer. But then, Jesus explains, but you can’t tell anyone, because I’m gonna suffer many things. And in fact, I’m gonna be killed. And I’m gonna rise from the dead three days later.
Now this is where Peter opens his mouth. And he inserts his foot. Because Peter takes Jesus aside, and we don’t know exactly what he says to Jesus, but we do know that Jesus said, Get behind me, Satan! Poor Peter. Peter didn’t understand what he was saying. I mean, he had just proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ, and yet, he didn’t really know what this meant. Just like me calling my mom a lady of the night, okay? I didn’t really know what it meant. So, here we are now, six days later, we have something called the transfiguration, and the world has just happened. I guarantee, Peter, James, and John have never seen anything like this. I mean, yes, they’ve seen Jesus do some pretty awesome miracles, and they’re actually even used to Jesus surprising them. But, what’s happening here, on this mountain? This definitely is something they had never seen Jesus do before. Now there’s actually two high mountains in Israel where this could have taken place. There’s Mount Tabor and there’s Mount Hermon. Now there’s no plaque that says Jesus transfigured here, but I personally think it happened on Mount Hermon.
Now, this could be an open mouthed insert foot moment, but hear me out. So, there’s Mount Hermon. Isn’t it beautiful? It’s snow covered most of the year. In fact, it’s the only mountain in Israel where they can ski. And I’m not implying that Jesus went on a ski trip, so that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that Mount Hermon is relatively close to Caesarea Philippi. In fact, I have a map, and you can see Caesarea Philippi and Mount Hermon right there. Definitely walkable in six days. Alright, anyone who knows me, especially my husband, knows that I’m rarely at a loss for words. Now, granted, the words I use may not always be helpful, i. e. open mouth, insert foot, but I can usually put things in some sort of context. But this transfiguration is foreign to us. We really have a difficult time to understand What happened? Jesus transfigured in front of their very eyes. Now the Greek word for transfigure is metamorphosis. That’s actually where we get the word metamorphosis. Metamorphosis means to change form according to an inner reality. That’s important because Jesus wasn’t changing into something that he wasn’t before. It’s just that Peter, James, and John had never seen this side of Jesus before. We know Jesus was always God. But they’re seeing that in addition to Jesus being human, they are seeing he’s God also. Jesus divinity is shining through.
And the thing is, they really couldn’t put it into words. In fact, the translation says Mark said they were dumbfounded because what they were seeing defied the law of physics. They were seeing a human transformed into divinity. Jesus was acting in a way that no human could act because he was also God. Okay, put on your imagination cap. Imagine for a moment that you were there and you didn’t faint or die of fright. What would you do? Well, the gospel says Peter speaks up. Of course he does. But here’s the thing, Peter’s a lot like me. I hate awkward silences. So I’ll always say something, anything, to break the tension. Okay, so let’s unpack what Peter says on top of this mountain. Peter wants to set up tents for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Okay, he’s not being helpful. He’s actually missing the mark. Jesus is not going on a camping trip with his Old Testament buddies. He can’t stay on the mountain. What is Jesus going to do?
Well, he’s actually going to die for our sins. And, and rise again three days later. But Peter doesn’t understand this. And then, what happens right after this? Well, then a cloud covers them. And a voice comes out of the cloud and it says, This is my son whom I love. Listen to him. Now, you might be thinking, Gosh, that sounds strangely familiar to what was said at Jesus baptism. But there’s some important differences. At the baptism, God spoke just to Jesus. This time, he is speaking not just to Jesus, but he’s speaking to Peter, James, and John. This time, God adds the very important phrase, Listen to him. Listen to him. Don’t open your mouth right now. Just listen to him. Oh my gosh, that’s so hard. We don’t want to listen. Why? Because we want things our way. Because if we admit it, we’re a lot like Peter. Peter had a hard time understanding what was happening. He could not understand the need for Jesus, whom he now knows is God, to die on a cross and then rise again three days later. Peter doesn’t know how to react. He, once again, wants to deny that his king, Jesus, has to die. It makes no sense to him. Peter wants there to be another way. But Moses and Elijah are there to prove the point. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament law and prophets. God says, listen, and Peter says, but Peter wants an earthly solution, a different solution, open mouth, insert foot. God gives the command, listen, and we say, okay, I’ll listen to you, but here’s an idea.
Peter, James, and John have just witnessed the triune God. What does this mean? They’re not ready for what it means. This is why Jesus says, don’t talk to anyone yet, because they have no idea. That shortly, they’re going to need the forgiveness that only God can provide. Why? Because they’re all going to deny Jesus. They are going to scatter at the crucifixion. And Peter, Peter who just claimed you are the Christ, he’s going to deny Jesus not once but three times. They’re going to be the ones to need to hear the good news that Jesus has to die on the cross and will rise again and they will be forgiven. We too say the wrong things. We do the wrong things. Boy, we deny Christ in our thoughts, our words, our deeds. We act rashly. We don’t want to wait for Jesus plans to unfold. We don’t listen, because we think there’s another way. We look for another way, because we want to keep Jesus in a box or a tent. We want to stop him from walking to Calvary and yet despite all our wrong thoughts Despite all of our open mouth and insert foot moments Mercy shows up mercy now mercy makes no sense to us Just like it made no sense to them, but they certainly needed it and we certainly need it Because it’s only when we run out of words to say when we’re literally dead in our sin and our betrayal of Christ.
It’s only then that we experience the need of a savior. So, how do we unpack this? There’s some things I want you to reflect on this week. First is, what do you trust more? Your own understanding of a situation? or God’s divine providence. Proverbs reminds us in Proverbs 3, verses 5 through 6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Peter, he wanted to lean on his own understanding, didn’t he? He didn’t want to listen because he thought he had a better way. The second thing I want you to think about, what in your life is blocking your understanding of God’s will for your life? One of my favorite Bible verses is Jeremiah 29 11. For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future. See, Peter was afraid of trusting God and God’s plan because he thought there was a better way. Let’s be honest, we all want to avoid pain and suffering for ourselves and for those we love. But it is sometimes through pain and suffering that we experience true growth. And finally, think about how you react when nothing else makes sense. This is another one of my favorite Bible verses, and it’s Romans 12, 2. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world. But be transformed by the renewal of your mind.
That way, you may test and discern what is the true will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. So, whom should we seek when things are not going as planned? Well, Peter relied on his words and his understanding of how things should go. But, when logic and reason fail us, we need to avoid that temptation. We need to trust that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. And remember, when you open your mouth and insert your foot, you’re in really good company. And praise God for his mercy and his forgiveness. Will you pray with me, please? Good and merciful God, we know if we were on that mountaintop, we also would have been poor listeners and we would have tried to explain and rationalize and reason you away from the cross. But we thank you that your son Jesus came to earth and he died on the cross so that through his body and blood our sins are forgiven and we may live eternally with you. Amen.