February 03, 2008
Extraordinary Experiences With Jesus
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Have you ever had an extraordinary experience in your walk with Jesus? You ask, What is an extraordinary experience?
The dictionary calls a miracle an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs. It is an event that would be absolutely impossible without divine intervention. Our text today presents such an extraordinary event.
One day Jesus led Peter, James, and John up a high mountain. They were by themselves, and Jesus was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes were white as the light. With Jesus was Moses, the great law giver, and Elijah, a great prophet. These two great men of the Old Testament were talking to Jesus.
This kind of a meeting did not happen every day, and Peter got excited. “Lord, “ he said, “this is a great experience for us. I hope we can stay here for a while. Would you like to have me build three shelters – one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for yourself?”
While Peter was making his proposal, a cloud enveloped them, and a voice spoke saying, “This is my Son whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
When the disciples heard this voice, they fell flat on their faces. They were terrified, but Jesus came and touched them. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. Then they began their walk down the mountain. On their way home, Jesus said, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Why do you think Jesus gave Peter, James, and John this extraordinary experience? The scholars give us some insight into that question.
First, Jesus received affirmation from his Father that he was doing what he had been sent to do. The Father told Jesus that he was well pleased with his ministry. Remember, Jesus was not only God, he was also man. Satan had a part to play in Jesus’ life, therefore his Father’s encouragement was needed for the days ahead when Jesus would go to another mountain, namely Calvary. This is where he would be crucified as a payment for the sins of the world.
Second, the three disciples needed that experience for the difficult days before them. They were to walk with Jesus to Calvary and see the One they loved be unjustly accused and crucified at the hands of godless men. They would be tested and tried. The day would come when Peter, James, and John would understand why Jesus had taken them to the Mount of Transfiguration.
Third, we learn in our lives that a daily walk with Jesus leads to some extraordinary experiences with our Lord. Often they are best seen in retrospect, but they can strengthen our relationship with him. Let me share an extraordinary experience in my life.
It didn’t happen on a mountain top. I didn’t see Jesus in physical form, but his Word was speaking to me in a mighty way, which I didn’t understand until years later. I was sitting in my car at a stop and go light at the corner of University Avenue and Main Streets in Cedar Falls, Iowa. In front of me was a big corn field. Because our city was growing in that direction, the thought crossed my mind that the day would come soon when this corn field would be littered with houses. Wouldn’t it be a great place to build a church?
Some months later, our church was contemplating building a home for the aged. I suggested that we try to buy a part of the corn field at University and Main for the building. I was appointed by the committee to visit with the elderly lady who owned the land.
When I first presented the possibility of building this home on her land, she was reluctant. However, after thinking about it and visiting with her attorney, she decided to give us fifteen acres for the project. Money was raised, and a year later we were moving into our new facility where sixty-six people would be cared for by Jesus Christ through his Church.
Wow! What an extraordinary experience with our Lord! But it wasn’t over. Five years later, she gave us another fifteen acres to build a new church beside the home for the aged. It wasn’t long before the thirty acres, once used to grow corn, was covered with buildings and parking lots to do God’s work of sharing the Gospel and caring for people.
The buildings are simply tools to do God’s work. The ministry carried on inside the buildings is what is important. People are hearing God speak to them through his Word and sacraments. The Holy Spirit is at work, and faith in Christ as the Lord and Savior of the world is being created in human hearts.
Lives are being changed! The young are being challenged to let Christ direct their lives in how to resist the temptations confronting them. Those in the prime of life are being helped to build a home where Christ is honored. The elderly are being ministry to in both body and soul as they live out the last days of their lives.
What an extraordinary experience to sit at the stop and go light on University and Main and be reminded who Christ is and what he can do in our lives. He not only feeds our souls, but commissions us to share the Gospel in word and deed in the world.
Let me share with you one story that comes out of that church. Observe what the Holy Spirit has done and continues to do with those thirty acres.
Jens is 34 years old. I was his pastor for most of those years. This is a letter that he sent to me this week: “The purpose of this note is to say thank you for creating an environment where very Sunday you taught people the Gospel, but more importantly you inspired others to spread the Word. It was in this very community that I was taught the importance of a solid relationship with Jesus Christ. God gave his Son to die so that we can have eternal life. This community – made up of people like my Grandma Anne, parents, aunts, and uncles, as well as others who feel like family – have all taught me the importance of a personal relationship with Christ. Thank you.”
A letter like this shows us what God can do. To see God turn Jens’ life around is an extraordinary experience.
I am anxious to remind Jens that Homer did not create a wonderful community. Only God can accomplish this, but it is true that he used human beings to deliver the message of his grace and love. To see in retrospect how al of this happened is an extraordinary experience.
I wonder if Peter, James, and John ever went back to the Mount of Transfiguration and relived that extraordinary experience they had with Jesus on that day. I often need to go back to the corner of University and Main and remember what God did, and continues to do on that very spot.
If you are walking through life in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, think back. I believe you will find some of these extraordinary experiences you have had with Jesus. Obviously, they are not as great a the one Peter, James, and John had on the mountain top, but they reaffirm for us what God can do in and with our lives. It inspires us to move on as his servants in this world.
Jesus said that he is anxious to give us an abundant life. These extraordinary experiences are a part of this abundant life.
Rev. Homer Larsen