First Lesson: Exodus 24: 12-18
Responsive Reading: Psalm 2
Second Lesson: 2 Peter 1: 16-21
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 17: 1-9
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
George Mallory had a dream. Mallory’s dream was big to be the first man to climb to the top of Mount Everest all 29,000 feet plus (the tallest mountain on Earth).
1921- Mallory’s first attempt traveling from the east reached 23,000 feet before being unable to go any further. 1922- Mallory attempted to climb from the north finally reaching 27,000 feet. Mallory’s men trigger an avalanche through a climbing error, killing seven.
Mallory then dared to undertake the third attempt to climb Everest in 1924. Mallory figured because of his age (37) that his lungs wouldn’t be able to withstand any additional attempts. The third voyage would be Mallory’s last. As Mallory got ready to depart, he vowed that whatever happened on the deadly mountain that he would not return defeated. What happened to George Mallory on the third attempt at Mount Everest? Did God intend for George Mallory to be the first man to reach Mount Everest’s peak? We’ll get back to his story in a little bit.
Like George Mallory, nearly all of us have dreams regarding how we want to see the world unfold. When I was in high school, I wanted to be a great basketball player. I wanted to be the guy scoring twenty points on a Friday night and hearing the accolades of my classmates after a big win on Monday morning. I would spend summers shooting hoops and watching basketball all the time. Two problems with this dream: “I would be generously listed at 5 foot 8” and “I was never quick.” Pretty quickly, it became obvious that God’s plans for me didn’t involve becoming a great basketball player.
Now let me tell you the tale of some other dreamers in Peter, James, and John their dream involved a mountain. Peter, James, and John had humble origins as fishermen. They left this life one day when Jesus promised unto them a world like they hadn’t seen before. Today’s Gospel Lesson from Matthew 17 tells the tale of Peter, James, and John along with Jesus climbing a mountain and like George Mallory, their life would never be the same again.
The thing you need to know about mountains in the Bible is big life-changing events take place on mountains.
Exodus 20- Moses climbs to the top of Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments governing God's relationships with his people for generations.
1 Kings 18- Elijah has a famous showdown with the Priests of Baal to seek to establish “Who is the one true God?” The showdown ends with Elijah calling down fire from heaven.
Mountains through the Scriptures play a huge role in God’s dealings with his people. The Mount of Transfiguration would be the sight of one of God’s most dramatic acts yet!
Our lesson for today has Peter, James, John and Jesus begin to climb a mountain. Jesus begins to pray like any other day. Then it happened! Not since God spoke to Moses through a burning bush had anything like this happened!
Picture the most dramatic thing that you’ve ever seen and the drama doesn’t match this. Jesus’ appearance changed instantly as he started shining as bright as the sun. Jesus human body appeared to look like nothing that Peter, James, or John had ever seen. Jesus was not just white, but dazzling white. The surprises though were going to keep coming. Then appeared on the scene the heroes of the stories that Peter, James, and John had heard as a child in Moses and Elijah. Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Was probably what Peter, James, and John had to say about this scene.
Imagine how you would react as a Baseball fan if Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb were to appear in this place after having been dead for generations if you were a music fan picture Mozart and Elvis Presley. Here were Peter, James, and John encountering the long dead heroes of their faith in Abraham and Moses.
This Transfiguration scene was going to represent the high point of Peter, James, and John’s life. Nothing could ever top this. The greatest dreams of following Jesus were coming true! Here they were encountering famous dead guys. The nights of sacrifice and hard work were finally paying off. Fame and fortune seemed to be coming Peter, James, and John’s way until Jesus tells them something catches them off-guard.
Jesus tells them “Don’t tell anyone what they had seen?” Now imagine, being unable to tell anyone about the greatest thing that you’ve ever seen. Jesus didn’t want the Disciples to give anyone the wrong idea about his ministry.
The Disciples thought they had been following Jesus long enough that they were experts who had this whole Jesus thing figured out by as in many cases the experts were wrong.
Consider the following:
In 1943, the President of IBM was a man named Thomas Watson who said: “I think there’s a world market for about five computers.”
In 1946, the President of 20th-century Fox Daryl F.Zanuck said “TV won’t be able to hold onto any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.”
The future is in many cases deceiving. What Jesus is saying to the Disciples is that there is much more taking place than what you merely see today on the mountaintop of Transfiguration. Jesus’ plans didn’t just involve the triumph of the present but would center on the cross which was to come. Jesus’ plans were only going to be made known once the Son of God was raised from the dead.
The great human weakness is our belief that we possess the ability to conquer the world on our own. Believing that we have equal power to God is how sin came into the world. Earlier, I told the story of George Mallory who attempted to be the first man to ascend to the top of Mount Everest.
There was another man whose goal was to tackle a different mountain in Aconcagua . Aconcagua is the tallest mountain in the Western Hemisphere down in Argentina. The man set out after years of preparation. The man was arrogant and wanted to do everything that he possibly could alone. He figured that he was in such good shape that everything would work out for him. He would climb all night long if necessary not even bringing any camping gear. Nightfall soon came. The man couldn’t see a foot ahead. He couldn’t even see the moon nor the stars. The man kept climbing. Eventually 100 meters from the top, the man slips. He kept falling from the sky as every good and bad memory of life flashed before his eyes. The man believes in those mere seconds that death was ahead of him. In the midst of his fall, his rope gets stuck on a branch saving his life seemingly only temporarily.
Finally, in a desperate plea, he shouts out “Save me, God.” The man in a scene just as shocking as Peter, James, and John experience on the Mount of Transfiguration hears a voice respond “Do you really think that I can save you?” To which the man replies “Yes, God, Yes!” God answers back then do the following: “Cut the rope that is holding you up?” Such a request was too- far fetched as the man began to argue back and forth with God about his plan. The man eventually drowns out God’s voice. The man just clung tighter and tighter to his rope only to freeze to death during the night. Rescue crews found the man’s body the very next morning. The man was gripping tightly to a rope all the while hanging two feet off the ground.”
This mountain climber had one vision for how the world should look. The vision was going to result in all sorts of fame and earthly glory. Suffering and death surely couldn’t be a part of this plan. The man’s dream was going to result in his downfall. Peter, James, and John also had a dream as they went up to the Mount of Transfiguration. The dream would result in them encountering a world filled with euphoria and glory. Seeing Moses and Elijah in the flesh! See Jesus shining like the Sun nothing could ever top this! What these men failed to realize is that salvation doesn’t come through what we see or experience in this lifetime. Salvation comes ultimately through death before eventual resurrection.
George Mallory undertook his third climbing expedition in 1924. George Mallory gave it everything that he had. He made it 27,000 feet, only 2,000 feet from the summit before his body could endure no more. Explorers would years later find Mallory’s body hands extended high over his head, toes pointed towards the summit, fingers digging into loose rock. George Mallory died in pursuit of the cause that defined his life. The story of George Mallory was by no means over.
Shortly after Mallory’s death, a banquet was held in England honoring the rest of his team. At the head banquet table lay a picture of the one, big bad Mountain that took George Mallory’s life. The group’s leader stands up and says the following to the assembled audience; “Mt. Everest, you have defeated us once; you have defeated us twice; you defeated us three times. But Mt Everest, we shall someday defeat you, because you can’t get any bigger but we can.” George Mallory’s resolve impacted his fellow climbers long after he left this world behind.
Twenty-nine years after Mallory’s death, Sir Edmund Hillary reached the top of Mount Everest.
Even the world’s biggest, baddest mountain can one day fall. What Jesus is saying to the Disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration is this. You might have a dream even grander than George Mallory for how the world should look. The dream might result with you literally standing on the top of the world. The dream might result in you standing in the presence of your greatest heroes. The dream might be you experiencing all sorts of great miracles within this world. No matter where you’re at Today, God’s plans go way beyond your own. These plans at times might not make a lot of sense: sin, a cross, and death do not sound all that appealing. Rest assured that even the greatest of religious experts were wrong on Good Friday. Easter is, in fact, coming soon.
 “George Mallory.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 20.Feb.2017. Web. Feb.22.2017.
 “George Mallory.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation.
 Matthew 17:1-9.
 Matthew 17:2
 Matthew 17:3
 The following comes from Pastor Dennis Brostrom and was originally given in “Quote” on November 15, 1984.
 Author Unknown. “The Mountain Climber” Gospel Web.net: Illustrations. 10.Sept.2014. Web. Feb.22.2017.
 Author Unknown. “The Mountain Climber”
 Author Unknown. “The Mountain Climber”
 George Mallory.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation.
 Stories for Preaching. “We’ll Get Bigger”. Stories for Preaching taken from Seattle Times (Jan.16, 2000) and Illustrations Unlimited. Web. Feb.20.2017
 Stories for Preaching. “We’ll Get Bigger”.
 Stories for Preaching. “We’ll Get Bigger”.