Dear Savior, how glorious it was when You shed the cocoon of humbleness and revealed for that instant Your eternal majesty upon the mount of transfiguration! Today, get each of us to look past Your human humbleness and also see Your majestic glory. For then our fears over our frailty will be replaced by eternal confidence, knowing that such glory also awaits us. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE ALMIGHTY SON OF GOD
TEXT: Mark 9: 2-9
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
I really hate reality television. I think it is stupid, trite, silly, and a total waste of time. It’s as fake as a three dollar bill. It has nothing to do with reality, outside of showing the sinful side of human beings in an hermetically sealed setting with paramedics set to swoop in the moment something goes wrong. True reality is parents struggling to pay the bills, earn a living, and taking care of sick kids—with little or no safety net. True heroes are those who grapple with their lives each day knowing they cannot leave it all behind at a moment’s notice when the jet comes to pick them up and take them home.
You and I live in true reality. We live with daily fears that are genuine. We live with inner demons we cannot outrun. Escapism? The romance novel provides a few hours of it. Watching reality TV may provide an hour a week. Sports sometimes takes our mind off life, too. But in the end, genuine reality with all its struggles is still waiting to pounce.
Perhaps that is why Christ’s Transfiguration is such an important event. Yes, it didn’t last long.—The disciples were on that mountaintop and saw Christ’s glory for only an instant. And yet, they beheld their future, their Godly reality, which was and is just a puff of breath away. The transfiguration stripped away the veneer of time and space that we’re confined to and revealed the real reality, God’s glory, which awaits us in Christ. More than that, which is already ours through faith in Christ! Yes,
CHRIST’S TRANSFIGURATION REPLACES FEAR WITH CONFIDENCE
We humans have two distinct types of fear. One is fear over being trapped forever in what we know. The other is fear over what we don’t know. The first one includes sickness, evil people, terrorism, bankruptcy, alzheimer’s, and death. The second one includes what happens after death. On that mount of transfiguration Jesus addressed both fears and really took them away from the disciples’ lives. And in the process He replaced fear with real confidence.
Just like the Boston Celtics had the “big three” in their heyday, so did Jesus. Their names were: Peter, James and John—all of them long time friends of each other. They were the leaders among the apostles. And here Christ shares the most intimate moment of His ministry with them. He takes them up on a mountaintop—apparently to be alone and pray. Their journey encompasses six days. And then, in an instant Jesus lays aside the humbleness of human flesh that He was wearing, and reveals exactly Who He really is and what He’s all about. “There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.”
This lesson, transcribed by Mark from the mouth of Peter, an eyewitness, reveals many things about our Savior. First, human reality is but a blink of an eye away from God’s reality. Second, God, Christ, is light and in Him dwells no darkness at all. Third, the saints in glory communicate with Christ directly. And finally, although this is speculation, they must have been discussing the greatest event of all time: how Jesus would save human souls with His upcoming death and resurrection. For that event fused a sinless human reality into God’s all-loving glory.
Peter then blurts out: “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one of for Moses, and one for Elijah.—(He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)”
Why were they so afraid? What was the source of their fear? Of course, it was their recognition of their sin. They didn’t deserve to even see God’s glory. Nothing in their lives was sufficient to merit such a sight. And yet, see it they did. All this, because God wanted them to. All this, because God wanted them to receive this ultimate gift of sight which cut across time and space, a gift born of pure love for them in and through Christ.
As if to repeat what the angels said to Mary when Gabriel informed her of her pregnancy, as if to repeat what they would later hear the angels say at the empty tomb, those words: “Don’t be afraid!”; right here God the Father speaks words of comfort in order to inspire confidence: “Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: ‘This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him.” Yes, listen to Christ and your fears will vanish. Confidence will replace fear. For My love for Him and His love for you can and will conquer all!
After that, again in the blink of an eye, things return to “normal” on that mountaintop. However, the disciples now knew that human ideas about what is normal are tainted by fear and by finiteness. Now they knew what real normalcy was!—Eternalness enveloped by God’s love which always destroys fear. Yes, right here the blindness of sin, fear over what we don’t know, was pulled aside for them and confidence born of God’s grace ensued. True reality was and is and will always be to bask in the eternal love of God.
Today we stand rooted in the cold, harsh, human reality of planet earth. Wouldn’t you like to “get away from it all?” We stand on the verge of Lent where we shall see again how this same Christ was mocked, beaten, killed and was laid in a grave. But, note well that such earthly reality could not hold Him. It did not consume Him. He endured it all fearlessly because glory, His and ours, was but a hairbreath away.
After the resurrection confirmed all these truths in Peter’s mind, he was fearless for Christ. He was confident of all he did for Jesus because he now knew that God’s reality belonged to him. He knew the glory that was “right there” beside him, even though most others just shook their heads and thought: “Why isn’t this man ever afraid?” As an old man, Peter writes (in his 2nd epistle) of how this event transformed him from a fearful sinner into a confident saint: “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased…And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place.” Yes, even though Peter saw all that glory, here he has the audacity to say that God’s Word, the Bible, makes these events even more certain in our minds! How can that be? Because God’s Word is God’s reality. God’s Word is all about Christ. Christ is the Word made flesh. That Word conveys His eternal love and forgiveness upon us. And that Word is and will continue to transfigure us, too. Knowing that, how could you not be confident? Amen