Sermon Outline

Matthew 17:1-9


I. Building Project

We've made many preparations

Gone through so many processes, recommendations, steps





The Discipline

They all have their procedures, their prescribed methods of getting ready

But soon, we'll be ready

Soon it will be time to build

Nothing can stop us now

Except reality

The reality is that there are always interruptions

It's unavoidable



Miscellaneous (whatever that means)

How frustrating, to be ready to build and then be interrupted

  1. The mountain

It's been six days since Peter's confession, since Jesus has predicted his death and resurrection

Jesus leads Peter, James, John on a little hike

Mountain-climbing expedition

Not ordinary trip

Something extraordinary happens

There, while they are alone, Jesus is transfigured

Jesus goes through an amazing metamorphosis

He is changed

Face shone like the sun

Clothes became white as light

And Moses and Elijah appear before their eyes, talking with Jesus

This gives Peter an idea


Three shelters

One for each of you

Three buildings

Original word - skene - tent

Different translations over the years





same word skenai used for ordinary tents, for the tabernacle, for the temporary huts built at the Festival of Booths (some Jewish traditions associated the future advent of the kingdom of God with Feast of Booths)

different understandings of this word have implications for Peter's project

shelter - where you go for safety

tabernacle - where you go to encounter the fiery cloud that symbolized the presence of God, as it dwelt over the ark of the Covenant

dwelling - simply where you live, where you exist

memorial - where you remember the past

what was Peter to build?

  1. The interruption

Peter still laying out his project plans

Interrupted by a cloud

Told you weather can be a factor

Interrupted by a bright cloud

From the cloud a voice

"This is my son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him!"

sets the project back, to say the least

disciples fall to ground, overcome with fear

Jesus comes to them

Touches them

"Get up and do not be afraid"

everyone else gone, saw only Jesus

coming back down, Jesus orders them not to tell anyone about their vision

what just happened?

Another epiphany


Unique occasions in Matthew's gospel in which the glorified Christ comes to his followers - Craddock talks about three of these in Matthew

Sea of Galilee - ch. 14

Fearful disciples wonder if they are seeing a ghost, as Jesus "came to them, walking on the sea"

After the resurrection - ch. 28

Confused disciples - some worshipped, "some doubted. And Jesus came to them."

And here in this text - the Transfiguration - ch. 17

Disciples fall to ground in fear and awe and Jesus came and touched them

We become aware of something about Jesus

Interrupts our project

Peter's building program interrupted by "beholding" of this strange cloud, God's voice

Not mentioned again in this story

Disciples fall on their face, afraid

Jesus comes to them and touches them

And then they're back on the way down, without any discussion of "what about the tents"

Is this a relocation of the project?

  1. Changes to the project

Plans have changed

Where you build makes a difference

Relocate from exclusive, mountain resort to valley

Where the action is

Jesus' return to valley to minister to human need

Perhaps our call to move ministry outside the exclusive walls of the church?

Maybe, but let's not be too hasty

What you build makes a difference

Shelter - if we value safety above all else

Dwelling - if we value mere existence, place to "be" above all else

Memorial - if we value the past above all else

Tabernacle - if we value the presence of God above all else

Elements of all these things probably necessary

Shall we call the architect? Change our blueprints?

Maybe, but let's not be too hasty

How you build makes a difference

Build around ourselves

Imperfect blueprint

Affirmations found in this text about Christ, not about us

Build around christophany

What is revealed about Christ

Peter's building project interrupted by voice of God

Our building project now interrupted by Ash Wednesday, Lent

Same voice

Same message

Same prediction Jesus made days before going up to mountain

Death and resurrection

Now we build around christophany, what was revealed

Problem is, exactly what was revealed on the mountain?


We're quick, hasty to simply say, let's be like Jesus

Quick to claim our own transfiguration, our own change

Relocate the project among the people



But we're not like Jesus

That's what's revealed

Christ is like us, and so he will return to the valley and help

Christ is not like us, and so he is the only one who can help

Maybe that's the good news

Temptation is to quickly relocate the project, build, like we think Jesus would

But we're not exactly like Jesus

And so before we amend our plans, blueprints

Before we get caught up in the glory of our design

maybe we should take some time to consider the mystery

The cloud

The voice

The interruption of Lent

The uniqueness of Christ

Will it cause us to fall to the ground in fear, in desperate anticipation of Jesus coming to us and touching us at Easter?