Give Up and Look Up (Luke 9:28-36)

By | February 24, 2013



     One of my favorite TV shows is Chopped on the Food Network. I love seeing what they’ll do with some of the weirdest ingredients you’ve ever heard of, some of which I’ve never seen before. You saw the list from that episode. In others they’ve had to create an appetizer out of pancake mix, strawberry papaya, blue foot mushrooms, and pre-cooked chicken feet. Or a main course out of maraschino cherries, peas in the pod, parsley root, and tripe. If don’t know what tripe is, it is beef stomach.

     One of the things the judges always critique the contestants is whether or not they have repurposed or transformed an ingredient into something else. If they just throw the cherries or chicken feet on the plate as garnish, they’re not going to win. Instead they have to transform it into something completely new and different for the judges to taste and see.

     Today we’re going to look at what is commonly known as the Transfiguration of Jesus. In this moment Jesus is transformed and shown in all of his heavenly glory, right before the eyes of Peter, James and John. We’re going talk about how the Transformation of Jesus continues to be a source of Transformation in our own walk of faith.


Let’s look at the account of the Transfiguration found in Luke 9:28-36 (NRSV)

[28] Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.

[29] And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white.

[30] Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him.

[31] They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

[32] Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.

[33] Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said.

[34] While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud.

[35] Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”

[36] When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

     There are a number of things we can learn from this event. It too is a challenge to Surrender ourselves fully and completely to God, through Christ, so we can be transformed as well. This passage calls us to Give Up and Look Up.


     A. The first challenge I see in this passage is the challenge to Look Up and Wake Up. In the passage it tells us the Peter, James and John were weighed down with sleep. That’s a curious phrase, isn’t it, “weighed down with sleep. Have you ever been so tired you couldn’t keep your eyes open? I imagine it was that kind of tired that Luke was talking about when he described the disciples as being “weighed down with sleep. I also think that’s the kind of tired we can get simply by struggling to live our faith in the world every day. That’s one of the reasons we need Sabbath Rest.

     Now all the time they were struggling with staying awake, Jesus was praying. In the midst of those prayers, two of the greatest figures in Jewish history appeared Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets. They signified how Jesus was fulfilling both. This translation says they saw Jesus glory because they had stayed awake.

     B. The challenge for us is to Look Up and Wake Up to God’s presence all around us. I think it’s easy to fall into the rut of being a normal Christian. It’s as if our baptism and worship have worked as a spiritual sedative in our lives and we just go around in a semi-Christian consciousness. In this state of spiritual malaise, we use our faith like a garnish rather than letting it be infused into all of life.

     The problem with that state of mind and spirit is that we’re walking in a dream world of sorts. We’re not really living in the Kingdom of God, nor are we living in the world. Our lives are kind of in limbo between the two.

     The Transfiguration tells us that God wants more than that in our lives. God wants to see true Transformation of the heart. We’re called to Look Up and Wake Up to God through Christ.


     A. The second challenge is to Look Up and Open Up. To Open Up to God’s purpose in our lives. And that means we have to Surrender some attitudes of the heart to God’s Will.

     We have to Give Up our resistance to change. We don’t like change. We want things to stay the same because we’re comfortable. But if things didn’t change we might still being wearing leisure suits and platform shoes; or cooking on a wood stove; or carrying around the old brick style cell phone. God wants us to Open ourselves to the change God wants to make in our lives; a change of the heart and a change of purpose.

     B. I think the Transfiguration also challenges us to Give Up our attachment to things of the world. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with owning and using the things of the world. But sometimes, things own us. I knew a couple who loved to travel and did so frequently while he was working. He retired early so they could do more travelling, which they did for a while.

     Because he had made wise investments, he was also able to pursue collecting antiques, silver and crystal. But as their collection grew, they quit travelling because they were afraid someone would break into their home and steal it all. Suddenly these things he owned, now owned him. And that can happen to us unless we Give Up our attachment to the things of the world and Open Up to the Kingdom of God.

     C. The Transfiguration also challenges us to Give Up or love of ease. We all have a defense mechanism in us that seems to makes us automatically shut the door against any disturbing thought or anything that cause us to be uncomfortable. God wants us to drop those defenses and Open Up to the adventure of Faith and the hard work of being a Disciple and making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

     That transformation begins with us. And when we Open Up to God by Surrendering these attitudes, we come to realize, it’s not about us but about God and how God wants us to be instruments and tools of God’s Transforming power in the lives of others.


     A. Finally, God wants us to Look Up and Listen Up. Every now and then Mary and I like to just listen to snippets of conversations as we walk through the mall. And then we try to figure out what they were talking about. Here’s a few that have cracked us up. “If this is a Thai restaurant how come no one’s wearing a tie.” Heard from a young couple as we were leaving the Mall. “Mmmm you smell expensive.” To which she replied, “It’s called taking a shower, try it sometime!”

     A conversation at Chick-Fillet: “I heard on the news yesterday that it only costs the government four cents to print the ten dollar bill” “WHAT? Four cents! And we pay ten bucks for them? What a rip off!”

     Heard at a checkout counter when the clerk asked: “How are you?” “Do you want the honest answer?”

     B. The Disciples experienced one of the holiest moments of their lives. Peter even refers to in in his letters. Jesus was revealed in all of His Glory. They saw him standing with the Moses and Elijah. And they were overwhelmed when the cloud of God’s presence descended. This was the same cloud which descended on the mount of the Ten Commandments; this is the same cloud into which Elijah was taken while in a chariot of fire. The cloud of God’s presence descended and they were terrified.

     But there in the cloud of God’s presence they heard two things. God spoke and said, “This is my Son, my Chosen.” If they had any doubts, this dispelled them. If they were unsure who Jesus was, this clarified it beyond question, “This is my Son, my Chosen.”

     The second thing God said was, “Listen to him!” We have to keep our hearts and minds and our ears tuned to Christ. We have to keep our hearts and minds and our ears tuned to Christ. God wants us to Look Up and Listen Up.


     We have all heard of the Italian violin maker, Stradivarius. His violins are now the most prized violins ever made because of the rich and resonating sound they produce. The unique sound of a Stradivarius violin cannot be duplicated. Now what may surprise you is these precious instruments were not made from treasured pieces of wood; they were carved from discarded lumber. Stradivarius was very poor, and could not afford fine materials like his contemporaries. So he got most of his wood from the dirty harbors where he lived. He would take those waterlogged pieces of wood to his shop and clean them up, dry them out, and from those trashed pieces of lumber he would create instruments of rare beauty.

     It has since been discovered that while that wood floated in those dirty harbors, microbes went into the wood and ate out the center of those cells. This left just a fibrous infrastructure of the wood that created resonating chambers for the music. From wood that nobody wanted, Stradivarius produced violins that now everybody wants.

     Just as this poor violin maker transformed trash into treasure, God can transform a sinner into a saint. Only God can take us from being worthless and making us worthy of heaven itself. But that’s exactly what God wants to do with each of us. God wants to take the mixed basket of ingredients that each of us is like and transform us into the likeness of His Son, the Chosen. God wants to transform us. All God needs is for us to Surrender ourselves to Him. God wants us to Wake Up, Open Up and Listen Up.

     Just Give Up and Look Up so you can be Transformed.

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.