What you find and receive at the top of the Mountain is Life with God: To eat and drink, to rest, and to live in His presence, reconciled and at peace with Him in the incarnate Son, Christ Jesus.
But for now it seems that you are far removed and far below the Lord your God. What is more, you are afraid of Him and His Glory. You’re afraid to get close to Him, as though you even could.
The Law of God with all its demands and punishments, with all its accusations and condemnations, is a consuming fire that threatens to destroy you. And it surely would. It’s not that the Law is evil. Indeed, it is divinely good and wise, holy and right. But it terrifies and threatens to consume you, because you are sinful and unrighteous. You are not good and wise, but foolish and mortal.
Under those prevailing circumstances, appearances are deceiving, misleading, and frightening.
The Law cannot save you from your predicament. It cannot save you from yourself, nor from your sin and death. But it does aim at your life and salvation, at your Life with God in faith and love. It aims at that, points to that, and leads you to that Life in Christ Jesus, crucified and risen.
On the one hand, the Law sacrifices Him and sheds His blood for your atonement, redemption, and rescue (for your Exodus), in order to forgive you, and to establish and seal His Covenant with you.
And on the other hand, the very life of faith and love which the Law of God calls for and requires is realized and fulfilled in the same Lord Jesus Christ. So He is the One who brings you into that divine and holy Life, as He has opened up the way for you in Himself — in His Incarnation, by His Life and Ministry, and from His Baptism in the Jordan River to His Cross and Resurrection.
As your merciful and great High Priest, Christ Jesus is the One who brings you up the Mountain to God in His own Body of flesh and blood. In Him, your entire human nature is transfigured with the very glory of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Hence, your life is not simply with God, lived in His presence; your whole life is hidden with Christ in God, in personal communion with Him.
You are transfigured in and with Him, in His Body, in His Person, by way of His Cross and in His Resurrection from the dead. For His Cross and Passion are the pinnacle of perfect faith and love. His sacrificial death is atonement, redemption, and the means of your reconciliation with God.
He grapples with all the curse and consequences of your sin and death in His own Body on the Cross, and He heals all those ills, all those hurts and scars, all those frailties and weaknesses, all those griefs and sorrows, and your sickness unto death. And so it is that, in His Resurrection, your human body is raised up, made brand new, and glorified — like unto His own glorious Body.
So, too, your heart and mind, your soul and spirit, your thoughts and feelings and emotions, all are healed and made whole in the Resurrection of Christ Jesus from the dead.
Though it does not yet appear what you shall be in glory at the last, already it is true for you in Him — even now, hidden under the Cross, subjected to death and the grave.
There are no short cuts up the Mountain, no way to bypass the Cross on your way to Glory.
The Apostles are not even to speak of the glorious vision until after the Cross and Resurrection are accomplished; because the Glory of the Transfiguration is the Glory of the Cross, which is then manifested in the Resurrection — and manifested in the preaching of the Gospel of the Cross.
So, too, the transfiguration of your body and of your whole human nature — in and with Christ Jesus — occurs by the ways and means of His Cross. It happens by the preaching of His Cross unto repentance and faith in His forgiveness of all your sins. And it is given to you in the Fruits of His Cross, in His holy Body and precious Blood, given and poured out for you to eat and drink.
It is for the sake of His Cross — for you and your salvation, in divine and holy love — that the Lord Jesus has come down from the Mountain. And really, in Him, the Mountain Top itself has come down to you. The Cloud of the Majestic Glory of God rests upon the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, even to His sacrificial death on the Cross. For He is the Ark of the New Testament; He is the Mercy Seat; He is the Holy of Holies; and He has come down to tabernacle with you here.
So, listen to Him.
Hear and receive His Gospel, His forgiveness, His perfect Peace and Sabbath Rest.
See how He stretches out His hand and lays it upon you, not to punish and destroy you, but to comfort, to heal, to raise you up from death to life, and to serve you in grace, mercy, and peace.
You do ascend the Mountain of God with Christ Jesus, and in the Resurrection you also shall be transfigured. But already here and now, the Glory of God dwells with you on earth. By His grace, He is here with you to save you, and His flesh and blood unite and seal you to His God and Father.
His Blood of the New Testament satisfies the Law of God and sanctifies you. It makes satisfaction for your sins of thought, word, and deed, and it transfigures and transforms your heart and mind, your words and actions, your body, your lips, your hands and feet, to be glorious with His Glory.
So it is that, even under the Cross — and precisely by the bearing and sharing of His Cross — the Glory of God is manifested in you. In the forgiveness of all your sins, and in your salvation by God’s grace through the Gospel. Then also in your faith and love, in your forgiveness of those who sin against you, and in your self-sacrificing service for those neighbors God has given you.
Thus are you stunning and beautifully adorned in both your body and soul with the true beauty of Christ Jesus, and in Him you are the most handsome of men, the most gorgeous of godly brides.
Such a life is not found on some Himalayan peak, far and away beyond your reach. It is already hidden with Christ in God, while it has also come down from heaven and drawn near to you here at the bottom of the mountain, down in the valley so low, the valley of the shadow of death.
That is where the Altar stands among the people of God, and where His Church stands firmly and rests upon the twelve pillars of the Lord’s holy Apostles, the eyewitnesses of His great Salvation.
And so it is that you live in the presence of God, because God has come to live with you in His own Body of flesh and blood, with His own Word. In Him you have perfect Peace and Sabbath Rest, because He has reconciled you to Himself, and to His Father by His Spirit, with the Gospel.
Daily and richly He comes to abide with you in mercy, with His free and full forgiveness of sins.
In Christ Jesus — in His Cross — in His Word — and in His entire Ministry of the Gospel, you behold the Lord your God with the eyes of faith. You recognize the glorious goodness of His grace; and you eat and drink — not only “with Him,” in His presence, and not only food and drink that He provides — but you eat and drink the incarnate God, and He makes His tabernacle in you.
Yes, He abides with you and dwells even within you, in spite of all your frailties and weaknesses.
Consider, for example, where is it that Peter, James, and John are given to eat and to drink. It is not high up on the mountain away from all the others, but in the Upper Room of the Church, in the Passover of the New Testament, in the gathered assembly of the disciples; and here also with you.
Here at His Altar, within His Church on earth, all the Law and the Prophets have been fulfilled in Christ Jesus; and here they are made sure and certain for you in the Ministry of His Gospel.
Here the Morning Star now rises in your heart and mind, in your body, soul, and spirit, by His gracious forgiveness of all your sins, and by the free gift of Himself, His Life, and His Salvation.
So it is that you shine like the stars with His righteousness, innocence, and blessedness; and so it shall be that you live with Him in His Resurrection from the dead, body and soul, forever and ever.
In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.