Thursday, June 8, 2023

          The story of Jesus’ transfiguration can be found in three of the four gospels.  Matthew, Mark and Luke record this seminal moment in Jesus’ life.  You may recall that Jesus invited Peter, James and John to come along with him on a trip to a mountain top.  Matthew recorded what happened to Jesus next, “There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.” (Matthew 17:2-3).  That moment had to be an amazing experience for these three disciples.  Remarkable really!  Moses represented the Law.  Elijah represented the prophets.  By standing before Jesus, the image to be seen was the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets in Jesus alone.  He kept the Law perfectly and fulfilled the expectations of Israel’s prophecies about the coming Messiah.  Jesus was depicted as the living Word of God for the disciples to see.  That image and experience had to remain with them for the rest of their lives. 
            While we might wonder what James and John were thinking, we do not have to speculate much about Peter’s reaction.  In his own words, Peter says, “Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah’” (Matthew 17:4).  Peter is ready to stay.  Let’s not go anywhere seems to be his take.  Let’s stay on this mountain forever.  We all have those mountain-top moments where we would linger forever if it were up to us.  We have times where we cannot imagine being anywhere else or doing anything else.  We cannot imagine being with anyone else.  God, in His grace, gives us those special situations where we wish we could remain as long as possible.  They are sweet indeed!
            Peter’s words help us to see three truths worth considering.  First, he saw Jesus as “Lord.”  It would have been possible for someone to be starstruck by the sight of Moses or Elijah.  Those men carried big names and big reputations.  But only Jesus is Lord.  No one else rises higher than Jesus.  May we never lose sight of who is Lord.  When we have settled and determined who our Lord is, the rest of life begins to make sense to us. There are plenty of things and people who can catch our eyes.  But there is one Lord and His name is Jesus.   
            Second, Peter realized that it is always good to be wherever the Lord may take us.  His will is perfect.  His wisdom is without equal.  His understanding is beyond measure.  Wherever God may lead us is good, always good.  Such a place will bring glory to Him and goodness to us.  There even seems to be a bit of thankfulness in Peter’s reaction.  We often have to take time to be thankful for where God has taken us or carried us.  We may not realize it at the time but His placement of us is gracious and good and the exact place where we need to be.
            Third, Peter was willing to go to work where God had taken him.  This fisherman turned disciple volunteered to become a builder.  He raised his hand to put up three different shelters for Moses, Elijah and Jesus.  I wonder if Peter realized that he was volunteering to be a carpenter in the presence of a professional carpenter from Nazareth!  In life, we usually have a choice.  We can work where God has us or we can stew and pout.  We can embrace where the Lord has led us or we can push back against it.  God often leads us to new places where we can go to work for Him and His purposes.  We can resist and reject that leadership or we can willingly trust Him to carry us where He would like us to be.  We often hear the expression “wherever you are, be all there.”  It makes good, practical sense.  We should make the most of every opportunity that the Lord provides for us to serve Him (Ephesians 5:16).  Those opportunities may carry us far, far, far away from home.  Or possibly, the Lord could lead us to go to work in the home itself. 
            As much as Peter wanted to stay on the mountain, it was not possible.  The moment there with Jesus came and left.  Moses and Elijah returned to heaven and the disciples and Jesus moved on too.  Matthew writes, “As they were coming down the mountain” (Matthew 17:9a).  And we come down from the mountains of life too.  We do not always linger in the high places, the thrilling places or the exciting places.  We often come down from the mountain and serve the Lord in the ordinary places and times and even in the valleys of life.  It may even require much more courage and faith to serve the Lord after we have come down from the mountain.  A mountain top experience tends to empower and energize everyone.  We are usually at our best, brightest and happiest in those times and occasions.  But life usually does reset and we come down from the mountain.
            Perhaps, in his own words, Peter reminds us to remember who the Lord is and that it is good wherever He may have taken or led us to be.  God’s favor does rest upon us as we seek and serve Him.  The glory of the Lord is our rear guard (Isaiah 58:8).  With His favor and for His glory, we can come down from the mountain and serve Him in the common, ordinary and simple places where He may call us to go.  And as Peter discovered, even though we may leave the mountain top moments behind, we do not leave the Lord behind.  He goes with us and remains with us.  Have a great Thursday!  Join us for worship on Sunday and our communal lunch!            

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