Our family has a few movies on repeat. Emma (2020), Spirited Away, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy whenever I have a say.
In fact, when my wife Brit spent a weekend in Toronto for her best friend's wedding, I plotted a Lord of the Rings movie marathon with my little girl Eve.
Not our first attempt. We usually watch the first movie and then parts of the last. The middle movie The Two Towers has too many dry scenes to capture our attention.
Probably the same can be said about the ministry of Jesus found in the bible.
Because as someone I can’t remember pointed out, the life of Jesus is a story of three mountains.
It begins on the mountain of the Beatitudes and ends on mount Golgotha.
And this Sunday we find ourselves right at the middle at the mount of The Transfiguration. Often the neglected mountain because it’s so incredibly weird.
On this middle mountain Jesus goes up with his friends to pray. And as he’s praying he transforms into a light like lighting and long dead prophets Moses and Elijah show up for a chat.
And of the many things I’ll share on Sunday about this weird but incredibly important moment, one’s worth repeating. Or saying in case I forget. And it’s this.
On this middle mountain The Transfiguration of Jesus shows us that he stands alone as the only one who can meet our needs, heal our hearts, and save the world. No one else.
And only he can do that because only Jesus is God, the Creator of the universe and our very selves, come to us to rescue us from the mess we’re so good at making.
You see, if you stay with the first mountain then Jesus is a fine human teacher, a sage. Great teaching, solid advice. A great sage among many sages. And many folks love to stay with Jesus on the first mountain and never move on.
The second mountain shows us we can’t stay on the first. Because Jesus isn’t just another human teacher whose words we can take as mere advice. Two of the greatest sages in human history show up to talk with him and it becomes clear as Jesus stands in the middle of them that, as incredible as they are, they don’t hold a candle to Jesus. Because He’s the living God clothed in immense power, Truth itself, the only one who can explain us to ourselves and give us what we need.
And what do we need?
We need to be reconnected with God. And the only one who can accomplish this is God, Jesus the Christ.
That’s what he does on the third mountain. He climbs the mountain and dies on the tree because only God can take our death into himself and destroy it.
I don’t know what it means for a human to even try that, but God can. That’s why he gets all glowy on the mountain of The Transfiguration. Because what we need can’t be achieved by human ingenuity, technology, or self-help. No sage or teaching can help.
Only God can help. That’s what Jesus makes clear to his friends on the mountain. And we need to see and hear this too.
Only Jesus can take into himself your misery and loneliness, regrets and failures into himself and erase them on the cross. Only Jesus can reverse our narratives of meaningless trauma and suffering into a meaning that transforms our lives into something more beautiful for having been broken.
In fact, he has done just that. On the cross Jesus makes the impossible possible, because he is the God of the impossible.
Not a mere sage, though he offers sage teaching for the ages.
Not a mere human, though he lived a human life and therefore when you go to him with your hurts he honestly understands.
That’s why he’s the only person we can trust with our lives.
I hope I do. I hope you do too.