Sermon - February 19, 2023 - St. Martin's In the Desert

Sermon – February 19, 2023

Last Sunday after the Epiphany

Year A
February 19, 2023

First Reading: Exodus 24:12-18
Psalm 99 
Second Reading: 2 Peter 1:16-21
Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9


O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; though Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Be Changed into His Likeness

Imagine Jesus on a normal day, walking with three of his disciples, Peter, James, and John.

Jesus had led three disciples with him, Peter, James, and John, high on a mountain while he prayed.

Jesus appears to them to be normal… when he asked them to come with him, but this was far from an ordinary morning, or an ordinary walk, because, as he prayed a light that appeared was so bright, it was almost blinding.

We all at one point in our lives have looked at a light, so bright, that we had to look away or close our eyes, because, it was so bright.

For the disciples right before their eyes, and while he prayed, the appearance of his face changed, it shone like the sun and his clothes became dazzling white. Jesus was transformed right before his disciples.

Suddenly they see Elijah and Moses talking to Jesus…they were so terrified by this, that Peter, not really knowing what else to say…says, Master or “Rabbi, maybe we shouldn’t be here, do you want us to go and prepare three dwelling places, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”? 

This may have been his way to honor them, by putting up three dwelling areas of worship for them. While he was still speaking, a great cloud overshadowed them…and a voice came from the cloud.

“This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” Jesus is completely, thoroughly, and fully loved by God.

Let us go back, they climb this mountain and are separated from the other disciples, then Jesus is transformed before them in a bright light, and two of God’s greatest, are there talking to Jesus about his own departure, his own exodus, the new exodus, that leads to his death, resurrection and ascension.

Next comes the shadow of heavy clouds and a Thundering voice out of the clouds….” This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him.

After this, Jesus was found alone, how do you think he was feeling? Did he feel any different? This was an important moment, it is set on the mountain, where the human meets God, and Jesus is the connection.

They start down the mountain and when they reach everyone else…they say nothing, they kept silent.

I think they talked coming down and they agreed to this, who would believe them and how would they explain it…after all Jesus is still there and they do not really know what is going on! 

But it is a key to the fact, that the identity of Jesus as the Son of God is reviled to some of his disciples.

Peter, James, and John have experienced the past, the present, and the future all in an instant.  


I wonder how we would find that experience. I would hope we would be transformed in our own lives.

It is possible, that some of us have had different experiences in life, maybe not as clear and involved as the three disciples, but we… all have had our own time on the mountain of life. 

We all have connected to God in different ways, through experiences of our own, and through our faith.

And there are people still waiting for that one experience in life, that will help transform their lives, and believe more than they do. 

We will have times in our lives when our faith is being tested and challenged. It is not until we faced our own mountain to climb, the challenges and struggles, that we can discover our courage and then we are able to understand, that we will always rely on the Lord’s strength to give us confidence.

Jesus will always be there to help us transform ourselves, we cannot just have one experience and then say, okay, I made it, and I can stop there. 

No, we must come down the mountain with him and turn around and go back up again and again.

There is plenty of growing to do, and we must be ready for that invitation from Jesus to go. 

Keeping a strong spiritual life will help us to be ready when he says, come, we have another mountain to climb.

God spoke twice, when Jesus was baptized and, in this scripture, God says, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him.

Listen to him in Sunday worship, listen to him when reading the scriptures, and listen to him when you are in personal prayer.

Say to yourself every morning: Lord I am Listening! Let yourself be transformed. Be changed into his likeness. God, I too want to be your Beloved!

The Reverend Lola Culbreath