As I seek to become quiet and to listen to Jesus, I have this surprising word: “I enjoy your chatter – so please don’t stop – but be quiet now as I speak to you. I know your thoughts, I know every part of you – every strand of DNA I know your deepest innermost thoughts. I love to draw you closer to Me and give you a huge Spiritual hug – keep on seeking Me and My kingdom – make that your priority, and remember the purpose of the transfiguration was not only meant for the disciples – it was meant for every disciple since then – in the midst of this fallen world – having taken up your cross – and what follows after they come down off the mountain. I am still there in all my glory with you – and know that the glory the disciples saw was just a tiny foreshadow of My real glory still to be revealed in My coming again and in the presence of the Father in heaven. You are in a world which caused Jesus to suffer to save you and multitudes of others – remember every day it was His (MY) suffering that has brought you where you are now.”
So although my reading today is Luke 9:37-45, I feel I should share the melody line which I have picked up, since the confession of Peter in 9:20. Immediately after Peter’s confession, Jesus warns the disciples of His real mission – to suffer and die and be raised again to life. He repeats that in 9:44, which brackets this section. So what does that mean for the disciples? Remember they have come from a triumphalistic tour with Jesus and on their own, climaxing with the feeding of the multitude. The strange warning after Peter’s confession tells us that the whole story has yet to be revealed and that is what the rest of the gospel is about: Jesus’ death, the need for that and the effect.
So what should the disciples’ response be to this news? They should deny themselves and take up their crosses and follow Jesus. Get rid of their own life agendas and take up Jesus’ and be prepared to follow Him even to death. What a powerful and even frightening prospect! And what about all the disciples since then? That represents the true Christian life. But remember in several places another dimension of that life is shown like John 10 and 15, Psalm 37 etc It is not only a life of self-denial but of abundance as we move with Jesus and His Spirit and He offers us that we can ask anything we desire and He will give it to you. Of course as we deny our own agenda and take up His we will only ask for that which He wants for us anyway.
And so the next scene is the transfiguration. Surely this display had two effects. It was meant to restore and revive the disciples’ hopes as they saw this magnificent vision and heard God’s affirmation of Jesus as His beloved Son and secondly Luke emphasizes what they were speaking about – Jesus’ exodus (“departure” is actually exodus vs 31b). This underlines the theme of His death because it is not just about His death, but His death as it was prefigured in the original exodus rescue story of the people of Israel, as they were taken out under the yoke of slavery to freedom, under the rule of God. But the real Exodus was still to come. The real exodus was to be accomplished on the cross where true freedom from sin and slavery would be won for all time, for those who believe.
Then the last scene, as they descend the mountain. A scene of demonic domination where Jesus uses a quote from Deut 32:5 to describe the people who have deserted their God to worship other inanimate gods. “A perverse, (a crooked) and faithless nation”. (vs 41) This is a description of the world He has come to minister to and, dear friends, it still describes our world today.
So what did I hear Jesus say to me from all this. There was quite a lot because it was spread over three days. The first was a reminder of the importance of denying myself and focusing on Jesus so that I can follow Him. I spent some time thinking this through, what change in my thoughts did that call on me to make? Then the reassurance of Jesus’ mission with the transfiguration, which I believe I have probably underplayed in importance in my mind in he past, as an encouragement for me in my walk with Jesus. Finally a reminder of the importance of our (my) involvement in sharing in His mission in this perverse and faithless generation. ministering in a world still dominated by a demonic, although fatally wounded foe. Mark portrays the father as saying “I believe, help my unbelief”. How many times have I said that? How many times have you?
I wonder what Jesus is saying to you as you read his passage? Are you challenged? If so how?