There is something beautiful about the top of a mountain. You can see things from the top of a mountain that you cannot see in the valley. You can look out and see the trees and the hills and the houses and the lakes and the cities in the distance from the top of a mountain. There is something beautiful about the top of a mountain. We even refer to great experiences, especially spiritual ones, as going to the mountaintop.
Noah went to the mountaintop. Abraham went to the mountaintop. Moses went to the mountaintop. Isaiah went to the mountaintop. Today Jesus invites Peter, James and John, and you and me to the top of a mountain. We go to the mountaintop to witness the transfiguration of Jesus.
The Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus is an invitation to draw near to the mountaintop. Peter, James, and John were invited up a high mountain by the Lord Jesus. And there, the three disciples saw the glory of the only Son of God. Jesus Christ was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzlingly bright. Peter, James, and John looked upon the face of a man and they saw the face of the Eternal God. In the transfigured glory of Christ, the disciples saw Moses and Elijah. They saw the law and the prophets standing with him who is the fulfillment of all law and all prophecy. They heard the voice of the Father declaring the identity of his Son. “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Now earlier in the gospel, Peter had proclaimed the identity of Jesus in faith. Now the voice of the Father announces his identity in fact. The three disciples had been invited up a high mountain. They had entered into the holy presence of the Most Holy God. There is something beautiful about the top of a mountain.
But they could not remain on the mountaintop. Three tents could not hold the presence of the law and the prophets and the Savior of the world. The Transfiguration was a moment of encouragement and consolation for the disciples in anticipation of the suffering of the servant in Jerusalem. The visit to the mountaintop was a gift to them in anticipation of the greatest gift, which is the Resurrection. The Lord Jesus called them from their vision of glory, and told them not to be afraid. He invited them to give up their fear and their comfort on the mountain and to be consoled by Jesus alone. Three tents on a high mountain could not hold the divine presence . . . but three crosses on a low mountain would.
On the cross on the low mountain of Calvary, the Son of God would offer the perfect response in obedience to the invitation of the Father.
The Lord Jesus did not invite us to a high mountain today. And yet, in our midst, the words of the prophets and the precepts of the law are announced. The voice of a man will speak with the power of the Son of God and veiled in the simple gifts that only faith can recognize, Jesus Christ is made present to us. The Lord has invited us. By faith, we have come to the mountaintop. Here we receive the word of consolation. Here, we receive the word of divine promise. In this place and at this moment we proclaim with Peter, “Lord, it is good that we are here.” Amen.