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Exodus 24:12-18 Matthew 17:12 !eter 1:1"-21
Have you ever had an experience that was so amazing, so much larger than life, that other people don’t believe that it really happened? Our friend Marty, who used to be Patti’s boss, lives, wor s and fishes in the !pper Peninsula of Michigan" He is one of those guys who is good enough with a rod and reel, and luc y enough to live and fish in the right places, that he often catches fish that are big enough to feed a family or two" # have seen photographs of such fish and # have seen some of the actual fish" $ut how often, without photographic evidence, are we inclined to believe most fishermen when they say they caught a fish that was this big %three feet long& or weighed more than twenty pounds %# have no idea what Marty’s fish actually weigh, #’m 'ust guessing ( they’re huge&" )ithout proof, how li ely are we to believe our friends who claim they met famous people, or were witnesses to famous historic events" *ou now, if you believe all the stories on television and the internet, there must have been about ten million people at )oodstoc " +his is even more true of events that people wish would happen to them" How li ely are you to believe that your neighbor actually saw $igfoot? Or that your friend actually won the ,-.. million lottery prize %at least until you see the new /amborghini&? )hen we experience things that are rare, improbable, impossible, or larger than life, when our reality becomes more of an epic reality, it is common and normal for people to believe that it didn’t really happen at all" +hat, in a nutshell, is the problem that many people have with the $ible" Many of the events of the $ible are supernatural, which by definition means that they are unusual, rare, improbable, and sometimes seem scientifically impossible" +hey are beyond real, they are epic reality" +his morning we will loo at two 0mountain top1 experiences that fit into this category" 2omething amazing, epic, and supernatural happens and from the time it happened until now, people have doubted and wondered what, if anything really happened there" )e begin in Exodus 24:12-18, where 3od gives Moses the law and the commandments"
The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction !
Then Moses set out with #oshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of $od 1% &e said to the elders, “'ait here for us until we come bac( to you )aron and &ur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them !
'hen Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 1+ and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount ,inai -or si. days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud 1/ To the Israelites the glory of the Lord loo(ed li(e a consuming fire on top of the mountain 10 Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain )nd he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights #t is an amazing story" #t is unli ely, improbable and assuming that Moses wasn’t carrying forty days worth of food and water, scientifically impossible" 4nd yet, if we are to believe scripture, it really happened" 5or the people at the bottom of the mountain, what happened to Moses and to 6oshua was believable because they had spent years watching 3od do the impossible" Many of them had seen the parting of the 7ed 2ea and the destruction of Pharaoh and the army of 8gypt" +hey had spent years in the desert being led by a cloud and a 9
pillar of fire, they had eaten manna and :uail, food that was sent by 3od, they had seen the plagues that 3od had sent against 8gypt, they had seen water spring from a roc in the desert when Moses had struc it with his staff, and they had seen many other things" On this day, not only did they see what happened to Moses, but 6oshua had gone along and stood as a witness to what had happened while they were on that mountain top" +he people at the bottom of the mountain had reasons to believe that what Moses said was true, but generations later, people began to wonder how much of it was true and how much was 'ust a legend or a fairy tale" 4nd then, in Matthew 17:1- , something very similar happens to 6esus and his three closest friends; )fter si. days #esus too( with him 1eter, #ames and #ohn the brother of #ames, and led them up a high mountain by themselves 2 There he was transfigured before them &is face shone li(e the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light " #ust then there appeared before them Moses and 2li3ah, tal(ing with #esus
1eter said to #esus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here If you wish, I will put up three shelters4one for you, one for Moses and one for 2li3ah !
'hile he was still spea(ing, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my ,on, whom I love5 with him I am well pleased Listen to him6!
'hen the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified / 7ut #esus came and touched them “$et up,! he said “8on9t be afraid ! 0 'hen they loo(ed up, they saw no one e.cept #esus
)s they were coming down the mountain, #esus instructed them, “8on9t tell anyone what you have seen, until the ,on of Man has been raised from the dead ! 6esus goes up the mountain with his three closest friends and he is transformed in front of them" 6esus appears in his real, heavenly form and not his human form" 4longside of 6esus appears Moses and 8li'ah, and there 3od the 5ather announces how pleased he is with his son, 6esus" +he experience is so overwhelming that all three disciples fall face down on the ground in fear and terror" <espite all the miracles that they had seen in the years they had spent with 6esus, despite seeing 6esus wal on water, despite hearing 3od’s voice at 6esus’ baptism, despite everything, they are certain that they are about to die and fall on their faces before 3od" +his is not normal reality, this is epic reality" $efore they came bac down the mountain, 6esus instructs his friends not to tell anyone what they have seen until after he has been raised from the dead" #t is obvious from later passages that they did not understand what he meant, but for the most part they did as he had as ed" $ut when they did eventually tell the story about what happened on that mountain, the reaction of some people must have been li e those who were not present with the #sraelites when Moses and 6oshua came bac down the mountain" +he story was so amazing, so incredible, so unli ely, so improbable, and so impossible, that many were inclined to believe that it never happened" How do # now that people didn’t believe the story? 5irst, its 'ust basic human nature" )e might be separated by two thousand years, but people 'ust aren’t that different" 2econd, 'ust listen to what Peter writes years later about his mountaintop experiences""" #2 !eter 1:1"-21$
-or we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord #esus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his ma3esty 1/ &e received honor and glory from $od the -ather when the
voice came to him from the Ma3estic $lory, saying, “This is my ,on, whom I love5 with him I am well pleased ! 10 'e ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain
'e also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dar( place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts 2; )bove all, you must understand that no prophecy of ,cripture came about by the prophet9s own interpretation of things 21 -or prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spo(e from $od as they were carried along by the &oly ,pirit Peter feels that he needs to tell people that they didn’t ma e up 0cleverly devised stories1 about 6esus because they were eyewitnesses" +hey were there" +hey saw these things happen" +hey were there when 3od spo e from the cloud and said 0This is my ,on, whom I love5 with him I am well pleased"1 +hey saw Moses and 8li'ah, they saw 6esus transformed, and they heard 3od’s voice and because they saw and heard these things for themselves, they understood that as unbelievable as they were, the stories of Moses and the prophets must also be true" $ecause they saw and heard these unli ely, improbable and downright impossible things happen right in front of them, they new that the prophets did not ma e up their stories either" $ecause they had seen the impossible, they understood that there was something bigger than life" +hey understood that there was something more real than reality" +hey understood that there was something; epic" #n the twenty first century our culture believes in what it can see, feel, and touch perhaps more than ever in history" Many s eptics misapply science by saying that for something to be real it must be repeatable" +oday, many of us have friends or ac:uaintances that will say that the stories in the $ible aren’t real, and they’re right" )hen this happens to you, and it will, feel free to tell them; *ou’re right" +he things that happen in 3od’s story are not 'ust reality" #t’s more real than reality" #t’s more real than the everyday reality we now and understand" #t’s more real than %or&al reality" #t’s super%atural reality" #t’s epic reality" 4nd today there are those among us who of us who have seen the unli ely, the improbable and even the impossible happen" +here are those of us who have seen answers to impossible prayers" 4nd those of us who have seen 3od at wor in our lives understand, as Peter did, that we do not live in an ordinary, predictable reality" )e live with 6esus in an epic reality"
*ou have been reading a message presented at +rinity !nited Methodist ?hurch on the date noted at the top of the first page" 7ev" 6ohn Partridge is the pastor at +rinity of Perry heights in Massillon, Ohio" <uplication of this message is a part of our Media ministry, if you have received a blessing in this way, we would love to hear from you" /etters and donations in support of the Media ministry or any of our other pro'ects may be sent to +rinity !nited Methodist ?hurch, >@A@ /incoln )ay 8", Massillon, Ohio --B-B" +hese messages are available to any interested persons regardless of membership" *ou may subscribe to these messages, in print or electronic formats, by writing to the address noted, or by contacting us at subscribeCtrinityperryheights"org" #f you have :uestions, you can as them in our discussion forum on 5aceboo %search for Pastor 6ohn Online&" +hese messages can also be found online at httpDEEwww"scribd"comEPastor 6ohn Partridge" 4ll 2cripture references are from the Few #nternational Gersion unless otherwise noted"
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