On the evening of April 3, 1968, a man stood up to a crowd gather at the headquarters of the Church of God in Christ in the city of Memphis, Tennessee. After a particularly difficult time of seeing black churches burned; having water hoses turned on black men, women, and children; having had marches broken up by violent Southern policemen; having had to deal with the general injustices of hiring practices by major companies in Memphis — he delivered a great speech which would turn out to be his last speech.
Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.
And I don’t mind.
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!
And so I’m happy, tonight.
I’m not worried about anything.
I’m not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!
Some of you may realize that just hours after that speech on the morning of April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was shot and killed by James Earl Ray who was convicted and sentenced to 99 years in prison. Though this excerpt that I shared with you this morning came at the end of about a 35-minute speech, the call he issued concerning his mountaintop view still resonates with all peoples, regardless of race, creed or color even today.
Here is the question: have you been to the mountain? Have you seen the glory of our Savior? Moreover, the only way that it may truly shine is for it to be lit, as Paul says, “with the light of the knowledge of the glory of our Savior” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Dr. King’s viewpoint had a bit of a different perspective. His speech called for equality among the races, a desire for all men and women to be treated like men and women. He had a dream that men “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” We as the church of Jesus Christ have a dream for all men and women to be led to the mountain where they see not equality necessarily, but authority. Where they not simply react to their travesty, but rejoice in His majesty.
We Must Savor the Majesty of God the Son
In Mark 9:2-3, we read:
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them.
This account begins “after six days” — but six days from what? Six days from the time God revealed to Peter that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God;” six days since He first told them that the Son of Man must suffer and be crucified and three days later would arise; six days from the time Jesus told the disciples and the crowd what it took to follow Him — a denial of self and a taking up of the cross! Six days from the time Jesus said that if one gained the whole world and lost one’s soul, that it would not profit them in the eyes of eternity! Six days from the time Jesus told them that if they were ashamed of Him, He would be ashamed of them when He returns in glory! Six days since the time Jesus told them in Mark 9:1 that “Truly I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
What a roller coaster day that was! First, Jesus is revealed as the Christ! Then He told them He would be killed. Then He told them He would come in glory and in power! Up, then down, then up! It was with this in mind that Jesus took Peter, James, and John — the inner circle of disciples, if you will — to a mountain. All through the Scriptures, God revealed Himself in glory upon a mountain. God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush upon a mountain and later gave the Ten Commandments to Moses and the children of Israel upon a mountain. He came in power when through the Spirit’s power Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal as God came from heaven and consumed the sacrifice for all to see! It was on the mountain that Christ went to pray to seek God (Mark 1:31ff); and it was on the mountain that He chose His disciples (Mark 3:13).
Mark tells us that Jesus was “transfigured.” What does it mean to be transfigured? Warren Wiersbe says that transfiguration describes a change on the outside that comes from the inside (Wiersbe, p. 141). You see, Jesus willingly veiled His glory as part of His redemptive work here on earth. In Philippians 2:5-8, Paul tells us:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-8, ESV).
John 1:14 tells us that the Word which was with God and was God (John 1:1) became flesh and made His dwelling among us. John goes on to say, “We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The Apostle John who wrote that was the same John who was with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter tells his account as well:
For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,”  we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain (2 Peter 1:17-18).
Seeing and savoring the glory of Christ made an impression on those three didn’t it? In fact, if you read Luke’s account, you see that when the three went up on the mountain that they “were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory” (Luke 9:32). And when we see all that God did through Peter, James, and John in the early church, they moved and worked for our Savior and Lord as those who were awakened to His glory.
Friends, the church needs to awaken to the glory of Christ even now. This was a turning point in the disciple’s lives and must be a turning point in ours as well — seeing and savoring the glory that is in Christ! John 17:20-24 says:
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
You see, Jesus was not up on that mountain merely showing off for His inner circle. He was showing His nature, but also showing us the glory we may share with Him! And when we see His glory, the church will arise and awaken and, as Jesus said in John 17, be one with Him as He is with the Father — and show the world the love that God shows to His people.
Powered by ScribeFire.