“Listen Up” sermon from Transfiguration Sunday

“Listen Up”  Luke 9:28-36
Delivered to Church for the Highlands, by John Henson
Transfiguration Sunday, February 7, 2016


There’s no question I feel more manly in my truck these days.  Its not that I was not manly before, but the cherry bomb glass pack mufflers Jack installed back when he was driving it have upped my manliness score.  It is, after all, as loud as legally possible.  While the sound has afforded me looks of respect from guys I pull up next to at a light, it has caused a few problems as well.  One such problem is at drive-thru windows, places I happen to visit at least once a day.  My pipes, it turns out, are too loud for effective fast food communication.  It doesn’t matter how much I annunciate “Mustard burger with cheese, no onions, Diet Coke,” it gets lost in the perfect purring of my tail pipes. The drive thru captain says something back but I can’t hear it either. I have learned to not only cut the onions, but cut the engine as well.

With all of the noise around us these days, its sometimes hard to hear, isn’t it?  Our text this morning reminds us that our hearing problem isn’t unique to our times; Peter, James, and John must have had it as well.  Think about it. There they are, atop a mountain with Jesus, selected by him from the other disciples for a special meeting.  It was there that Jesus went through an amazing transfiguration, a metamorphosis before their very eyes, going from an ordinary man in ordinary clothes to an extraordinary man with clothes white and pure dazzling bright.  Seeing Jesus this way obviously caught them off guard.  Then there was another sight, as they could see two other people with Jesus: Moses on one side and Elijah on the other.  They could hear the sounds of their conversation as well as the wows and gasps of each other as they took all of this in.  Peter has moved beyond sheer fear to curious fascination, asking Jesus if they can stay there a while with he and these two great heroes of his faith.  It is then that they are all enveloped by a cloud and hear the voice of God, speaking these words about Jesus, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” You would think it would have been enough to see Jesus in his glory, shining brightly and surrounded by greatness. Did they really need to be instructed to listen to Jesus after all of that?  Obviously, God knew they did.  Perhaps they were so caught up in seeing Moses and Elijah that they missed the point of what was happening with Jesus. Or maybe they were so involved in talking about what they were seeing that they were too distracted to comprehend the significance of what was happening.  Whatever the case, they needed to hear a “listen up” about what was most important.  They needed to go beyond seeing Jesus to hearing Jesus.  They needed to go beyond hearing Jesus to listening to Jesus.  Sometimes it is hard to listen.

Maybe our problem is not so much hearing as it is listening. When was the last time you listened to Jesus? Not just heard about it him or heard his words but actually listened to what he was saying? As M. Scott Peck observed, “You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.”[1]  How true that is. The noise around us becomes a noise within us if we allow it.  If not turned off, it drowns out the voice of Jesus and hinders us from being able to hear him.  Jesus is not the kind who will yell over the noise to us. He won’t compete with it but waits until we turn it down or off so that we can hear him. He speaks clearly but quietly.  You may say that Jesus isn’t speaking to you; that he hasn’t had anything to say to you in a long time.  But could it be that he has been speaking all along but the problem is that you keep adding more noise to your life? At first, the noise is manageable, one thing you’ve added to your life.  It’s the background music, you say.  You can still hear Jesus just fine.  Then you add another, which is the noise of a thing you’ve added to your life, one that has such a beautiful sound but requires even more of your hearing.  Your life is now getting noisy and you don’t want the volume to increase, but now other people are adding noise to your life and you don’t listen anymore because you really can’t even hear.

I think God is always trying to get us to get away from all of the noise and get away to where we can not just see Jesus in his glory, but to listen to him.  God says to us, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”  But, how, God?  How do we do this when there is so much going on around us? How when our phones ring, ding, chime, beep, tweet, and vibrate to alert us that whatever else is important and demand that we stop and check what they have to say to us?  How do we listen when we have a million channels to watch or at least flip through incessantly?  How when there is so much to do around the house? How can you listen, God, when you have bills to pay and the fact that you can’t creates the kind of noise you can’t ignore and listen to anything else? How can you listen, God, when you have so much to do for God in this world?

And God says, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”


[1] https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/3061.M_Scott_Peck

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