A sermon given on August 19, 2007 on Mark 9:2-13.
Going Up On the High Mountain
First of all, I’m a little uncomfortable today. The reason is because before I went to Africa I was always going to first liturgy so second liturgy to me is very different, so we’ll see what we can do, but since Abouna asked me to do second liturgy I will continue. Ok, I’m not going to share very much because I don’t have too much to share but I’ll share something small from the Gospel today.
As you know, today is a special day in the Church: the Transfiguration Sunday. And we heard some nice things in the gospel today. Not sure if the Gospel is up or not or if you have your bibles it’s Mark chapter 9. If you look really closely to the gospel I’m just going to point out some key words and then I’m going to talk about it with all of you.
First it says, “Jesus led them on a high mountain apart by themselves and later He was transfigured before them.”
What is this mountain? I’m sure you’ve heard before different meditations about the mountain and what the mountain is. But I want to discuss something maybe you already know. I want to discuss something maybe to remind all of us. Which is, Jesus is leading us just like He did the disciples, and He’s leading us also to go up on the high mountain. What is this high mountain? This high mountain is where Jesus showed His divinity, His trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and showed His glory to His disciples.
What is it for us? The mountain for us is everyday spending time with the Lord. Every day we should be going up on the mountain because He is leading us there. In the gospel today it says, “Jesus is leading His disciples up the high mountain. But Jesus is not just leading them; He’s leading all of us. He saying, “My son, my daughter, I want you to come today up the high mountain; I want to show you something special.” He showed Peter, James and John something special, but He wants to show us something special. This high mountain is our time with the Lord every day. Every single day He wants us to come up the mountain and see Him.
He also mentions “He led them up there apart” by themselves. What does that mean about the mountain for us? It means He wants us to be by ourselves with Him on this high mountain every day I’m setting up the scene because I’m going to go into more detail. The mountain for us is every single day going up to spend time with the Lord by ourselves. Just like today He says, “I am leading you on a high mountain apart.” Apart means just you and Him.
Why does He want us to go up this high mountain? Why does He want us to be up with Him every single day on this high mountain? What’s the benefit for us? He wants to give us something just like He gave His disciples. When the disciples met with Him He shined and was transfigured before them. The light came from Him to the disciples. What is this light? It is the light of the Holy Spirit. This was a chance for the disciples to taste how it feels to have the Holy Spirit shining on them. Remember, they hadn’t yet received the Holy Spirit (at Pentecost) but yet they tasted it today. They tasted what it means to have the Holy Spirit working in them.
So what is this mountain? It is the time we spend with the Lord every day so He can shine the Holy Spirit on us. So we can be strengthened every day. What else can we get if we have the Holy Spirit working inside us and we go up on the mountain every day? Let’s discover this together. By the end of the sermon I want you to make a determination. Do you want to go up the mountain? Before you answer so easily I want you to remember the question: Do you want to go up the mountain? We said the mountain is going up and spending time with the Lord everyday and He wants to show you and me something every day, right. So, do you want to go up on the mountain? Keep that in mind.
How did the disciples react to the transfiguration? Who knows? Sorry in Africa we always have dialogue with the congregation. [Laughs] You don’t have to answer, just think about it. How did the disciples react when Jesus shone His light on them during the transfiguration, what happened to them? Think about that.
There are two things that happened to them. One was amazement: oh my goodness. What did Peter say; “It’s good for us to be here” he was amazed. But if you look at the Orthodox icons of Transfiguration you’ll see something. You have Peter reaching out for the Lord saying, “It’s good for us to be here.” [The second can be seen in] the other two disciples. If you look at the Orthodox icon what are the other two doing? They were falling down. They were scared, they were afraid. Why? (They just saw the Lord in His glory, it was Jesus, why are we afraid of Jesus?) Why do you think? What did God reveal to them?
When you go up on the mountain everyday and spend time with the Lord everyday God is going to reveal something to you. Number one, He’s’ going to give you the power of the Holy Spirit. [Interjection about the projected image] When they went up on the mountain they were in awe of God and the Holy Spirit. But the ones that were afraid, why were they? I’ll tell you why. What happens when we go spend time with God every day? What does He reveal to us? Oh you’re great, wonderful; no He doesn’t only reveal good stuff. He reveals what is wrong, what you’re doing against Him. He reveals your sin.
I am thinking that the disciples, when Jesus shone the light on them, He was shining bright on them. And the Holy Spirit was shining bright on them they saw something in themselves that wasn’t good. They saw certain things in themselves that made them say, “Oh my God I never saw this before.” That’s what happens when you go up on the mountain everyday with God, that’s what happens when you spend time with Him. He reveals things. He doesn’t only give you strength but He also reveals things about yourself that you may not have seen before. And you need to see if before if you never see it you’ll never be able to fix it.
The Lord is calling every single one of us to go up on the mountain every single day and to spend time with the Lord every single day. Because number one, He wants to give you power, but number two He wants to reveal things about yourself that He wants you to fix. We know that when we spend time with the Lord and close our door He gives us power, strength, He gives us so much. He reveals so much to us but He also reveals the good and the bad. So, do you still want to go up on the mountain every day? Raise your hand if you want to go up on the mountain! [Laughs]
Right before the Transfiguration something happened. Jesus told them some important news. He told them, “I have to suffer.” Jesus was telling them about the Cross right before then He said, I told you the bad news, ok, now I’m going to take you on the mountain and I’m going to give you some encouragement. The same in our life. The Lord is calling us for a big challenge. If you haven’t heard it yet I’m sure you will. He’s not telling us here’s the tough thing that I want you to do, go; He’ll never do that. He’ll say come to Me, come up the mountain and be with Me, just like He did with the disciples. He wants to give us strength; the Lord wants to give us encouragement when we go spend time with Him on the mountain.
Ok, so do you still want to go up on the mountain? I’m sure everyone wants to you. I want to tell you something about the mountain. After you go up every day and spend time with Him on the mountain, what happens next? What’s the next step? I go up the mountain every day I receive from the Lord, I see the things about myself that are wrong, I get power, I get encouragement for my tough challenge ahead of me. After that, He wants us to go back down the mountain. What did Peter, James and John do after Moses and Elijah were gone and they were with Jesus alone? Did they stay on the mountain forever? No, they went down the mountain. Why did they go down the mountain? Let’s talk about that.
So first we know that we have to go up the mountain every day. The mountain is our time with God. If you don’t have this you’re in big trouble – this is the minimum we have to do: to spend time with Him every day. Btu I’ll tell you why we have to go up the mountain because one day we’ll have to come down. Every day we have to come down and do something. When Peter, James and John went up and came down what did the Lord want from them? Later on He called them to a great mission. He gave them something He wanted them to share with others.
I’m going to jump for a little bit. The Lord wants to give us something every day, and after He gives us something He wants us to give it to someone else. The light that he gives us He wants us to give that light to someone else. If we don’t we get a disease. Do you know what the disease is called? The Sleeping Sickness. How many of you have heard of it? You doctors have heard of this sickness. If you go up the mountain everyday and you come down and you don’t do something with what you received you get a disease called the Sleeping Sickness.
Let me tell you about the Sleeping Sickness, not sure if you have it, but I’ll explain what it is for you. It’s when you receive so much for the Lord but you’ve lost excitement. Your life is boring, it’s dull, it’s lost its meaning, and you’re not excited to be with the Lord. How many of us come to church every Sunday, receive from the Lord but there’s no fire, there’s no desire. It’s almost like we fell asleep. It’s called the Sleeping Sickness. If we go up the mountain, take from Him but don’t share with others we fall into a Sleeping Sickness.
Your God, who is a living God is not living anymore. It’s not like you spend time with the Lord and you go out every person you see you have boldness to share with them, you have love to give them. If you receive like this (open hands) but give like this (closed hands), you’ll go asleep. This is very unhealthy for us.
The Lord on Transfiguration Sunday gave to His disciples and He wants to give us. If we don’t give then we’ll fall asleep. You’ll be a sleeping Christian. I’m not sure if you feel like that. I’ve felt like that. I’ve had days when I’ve been in church everyday but have no excitement, no love. I don’t want to love my neighbor, I don’t want to love that person next to me, I hate that person, I don’t love him. I don’t want to help anyone. I don’t want to be bold and have a desire to talk about Jesus to anyone. I don’t have that. This means you’ve gone asleep. I’ve been there before and we’re all in danger of having this sickness, you have to be careful.
On the way here we lost our luggage at the airport. We waited a long time but it never came. The conveyor belt was going round and round but our luggage wasn’t on it. I thought about that conveyor belt. We have to be careful that we don’t become like that conveyor belt. The luggage is comfortably put on the conveyor belt and goes round and round and really goes nowhere. We can be the same, just sitting comfortably in church every Sunday. We could be sitting comfortably in our spiritual life and doing nothing going round and round. This is how the sleepy sickness comes. We have to be careful not be just sitting and letting something move us. We have to get up and move. We received the Holy Spirit, we received soothing special, don’t just sit there on the conveyor belt and go round and round but go nowhere.
There are also those escalator things that you step on and it goes like that (pointing straight). Sometimes in our path to Heaven we expect to jump on one of those things and move us to heaven. We don’t have to walk. We expect the same thing too, God has given us something but I’m just going to come to church every Sunday and sit there and it’s going to move me to Heaven – I’m going to heaven. It’ll never take you to Heaven.
God has given us something, He’s given us a power, if you want it then go up the mountain. But if you get it, don’t just sit there and keep it, get up and do something with it. If you don’t do something with what God has given all of us, you will lose it and you will go asleep. Don’t just think you’ll get there by standing on that [walking belt] and it’ll just take us, it won’t. We can’t go to sleep. If we receive something special from God we can’t go to sleep, we have to be careful. We have to be careful of things that cool us down. You know this better than I do. You know that when you get busy at work and become workaholics or we get busy doing many things, guess what happens to what you’ve received? It cools it down. I’m sure a lot of you are going through this right now. You’re getting busy at work or getting busy with school, those things kill what you’ve received.
I want to give you some definitions right now. I’m not trying to depress you, but I felt like God was telling me to say these things.
There are 4 different categories:
1. Handicapped Christians: don’t want to go up the mountain at all; don’t want to spend time with God at all. They’ll never be able to do anything at all.
2. Foolish Christians: scattered time with the Lord: they spend time with Him today and then skip a few days before reading the Bible again.
3. Sleepy Christians: go up the mountain everyday and spend time with the Lord everyday but when they come down they’re busy with work and school. Unfortunately this is where most of us are. We forget Jesus when we’re in our environments.
4. Fiery Christian: This is where I pray we all fit into. We go up the mountain everyday and receive strength, encouragement, love and power from Him that we share with those around us. We give love, forgiveness. We’re on fire for Him. This is where we all need to be. When they saw that light that light was meant for them to take and to give to all the world, until when? Until we die, that light should never go out, God gives light, we receive it and we give it. We do that till our end, till out last day. This is the way that He designed it. If you don’t give that light that you’ve received you’ll go asleep.
I’m saying all of this because I care about you and I don’t want any one of you to be a sleepy Christian. I’m not saying that any of you in this church is, I’m just saying be ware. I’m not saying anyone here is a foolish Christian, I’m just saying be ware. I’m not saying anyone is a handicapped Christian, I’m just saying be ware.
Number one is we have to spend time with God. Abouna Bishoy and Abouna Anthony have been preaching that for years and years, and you know that already. But what I do want to tell you is when you go up that mountain go and share that love with someone, go forgive someone, go say something to them about God. Do it! Don’t hold it in for yourself. Everyday everyone should be doing this for someone. That’s God design for us: every day we receive from Him and every day we share. Share with others, this is our design. Are we doing that? If not, we will go asleep. If not, we’ll pretend we’re on that [walking belt] that won’t lead us to heaven. No! I want us to be those Fiery Christians, Fireball Christians, when we walk around people are catching fire because of us. Is that you? If we’re not, we need to be.
I think this is my prayer for everyone of us: every day we go up the mountain and we see the Lord, and we see everything He’s trying to show us about ourselves and we fix what we’re doing wrong against Him, but also when you receive something great from Him that day, go share it with someone. Are you bold enough to share it with someone at work or school, are you bold enough? I’m saying even when you’re scared do it, do you know why? This is when the fire starts brewing inside of you. But don’t hold it in so you don’t get the sleeping sickness. I’m praying for all of you. Please pray for me and my weakness.
I’m praying for all of you and for all the churches, not just this but all the churches to really remember what God has called us all to be. To come and receive the light of transfiguration and receive that power from Him and go and do something with it. If you do, it multiplies and becomes more powerful. And every one of us should be like that. This is His design for us; it’s to be like this. So let’s be like our Creator who created us. So please pray for me as I’m praying for you and glory be to God forever Amen.