How Do You See Jesus, Fuzzy or Clearly?
March 3, 2019 Pastor: John Palka
Scripture: Luke 9:28-36
The Lenten Season of the Church Calendar start this week with Ash Wednesday. For me, Lent is one of the most powerful times in the church year. It’s a time in which we adjust our schedules and rhythms of life to spend more time walking with Jesus.
On this Sunday before the start of Lent our Gospel reading brings us to an account from Jesus’ life called the Transfiguration. Jesus is with his most inner circle of followers, Peter, James and John. After an exhausting day of feeding 5,000 people Jesus, Peter, James and John do something different; they climb a mountain top for solitude, silence and prayer. The three disciples were tired and fell asleep, while Jesus prayed. When Peter, James and John awoke they saw a sight they would never forget.
Luke 9:29, As he [Jesus] was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Mt. 17:2 says, There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.
Then the OT prophets, Moses and Elijah appeared in glorious splendor with Jesus and they talked together. Peter speaks up with a suggestion, but is corrected by Jesus. Then While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”
Why usher in Lent with the Transfiguration of Jesus?
I wear these glasses because without them I’m blind as a bat. I can see objects, but they’re all blurry. The edges of objects I see are all fuzzy, unclear and totally out of focus. I can see the shapes of people from afar, but again, there’s no clarity. But when I put my glasses on everything comes into focus. Objects are known and people are identifiable. What was fuzzy is now clear.
The transfiguration is like a pair of glasses, bringing greater clarity to seeing Jesus. The transfiguration helps us better answer “Who is Jesus.”
In the Transfiguration there is A LOT going on with A LOT of stuff pointing back to OT events. So to understand what’s going on in the transfiguration, we have to leap back to the OT. The imagery of the Transfiguration, the blazing light and the cloud from which God spoke, point to times in the OT when God revealed himself and his GLORY to the Hebrew people. Exodus 13:21 is the first time we see the presence of God in both dazzling light and a cloud. After the Hebrew people crossed the Red Sea By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light.... It’s important to note that the cloud and the light didn’t simply represent God. They indicated the presence of God. The cloud and light were not God, but they indicated a physical location He choose to make himself and His glory present.
Moving ahead in time, in Exodus 33 Moses meets with God in the Tent of Meeting. Ex 33:9, As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the LORD spoke with Moses.
A short time later, on Mt. Sinai, God gives to Moses the 10 Commandments for a second time So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the LORD had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. 5 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him…. Ex. 33:5. Ex. 34:29, When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. Moses was in the presence of God and his face radiated the glory of God.
Let’s take a pause in the OT history for a take-away. The faith of Christians leads them to in a sense radiate or show the glory of God. As our faith in Jesus transforms our lives, they look more and more like the life of Jesus. Listen to 2 Cor. 3:18, And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.
Lent is a season for us to spend more time in God’s presence, worship, word, etc.
If you’re like me, a human being, as you look at yourself, you don’t see a whole lot of God’s glory and Jesus. What I clearly see are all the warts and faults, sinful thoughts, words and actions. Where is Jesus in my life? Can anyone else relate to that?
Despite this, my faith sends me running to Jesus confessing my sin. I lay my sins before Jesus and the HS reminds me…(PA USE) Jesus died for those sins and all my sins. My faith shouts to me “Jesus forgave your sins.” Eph. 1:7 tells us, He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.
Let’s get back to the transfiguration’s connection to the OT. Later in the Hebrew history we see again the glory and presence of God coming in fire and light. At the dedication of the Temple of God in Jerusalem 2 Chron. 7:1-2, When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2 The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. Fire, sacrifice, smoke, God’s presence and His glory.
Unfortunately, the Hebrew people rejected God, over and over. Eventually God withdrew his presence and glory from the temple. We see that in Ezk. 10. This began a 600 year span in which God’s presence and his glory are absent. Those 600 years came to an end with Jesus’ birth. And how was Jesus’ birth first announced? Listen. Luke 2:8-9, And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them…
After a 600 year drought of God’s glory and presence comes to an end. God’s presence and glory are now and again with us, not in a stone temple, but in the flesh and blood of Jesus.
Jesus knew his journey to cross was going to hard for him AND his followers. He knew Peter, James and John were going to need a lot of help and so he blessed them by giving them a new set of glass. With these new transfiguration glasses Peter, James and John could more clearly see who Jesus was. He was the man-God in whom was the glory of God.
This is the glorified Jesus we will see when we die. We’re not going to see the suffering and humble Jesus. We will see him filled and radiating the fullness of God’s glory. Listen to Rev. 21:23, The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
As we go into Lent, the transfiguration of Jesus gives us a new pair of glasses. They allow us to walk with the humble Jesus to the cross, knowing who He is.
Over the 6 weeks of Lent, I invite you to join us as we as a family of God take a spiritual journey. Together, on this journey we’re going to walk with one another and with Jesus, the man-God. Do you desire to take this spiritual journey? Can you adjust the rhythm of your life for this journey?
Our Lenten spiritual journey begins this Wednesday, Ash Wednesday as we gather for a meal and worship. The meal starts at 6 pm and worship starts at 7:00. We’ll be done by 7:35.
Each Wednesday during Lent we’ll have our journeying meal together and then our time of worship, meditation and prayer.
Another part of the Lenten spiritual journal will be given to you as a gift starting Ash Wednesday. At the Ash Wednesday service we’ll start to hand out a Lenten devotional booklet called Places of the Passion. This booklet will take you on a journey to the places of Jesus Passion.