Summary: When you are moving toward the future, it is good to know where you are going. It is good to have a vision of how things are going to look down the road a bit.
I have a friend named Sam. He is a big fellow – about 6’ 4”, weighing about 275 lbs. of pure muscle. When Sam was younger, living in Israel, he was a professional soccer player. Sam knows the importance of good physical conditioning not so much as an occasional hobby, but as a way of life. It probably will not surprise you to know that I see Sam most often at the YMCA.
A couple two weeks ago, Sam approached me while I was walking on the treadmill.
“I see you are back. You must be trying to loose some weight again!” he said.
“Yes, I need to loose about 20 lbs.!” I said.
“You know, I could help you with that!” he said. “If you want I could show you how to use the free weights to help you get in good shape.”
“That would be great!” I said. Then Sam said something that really bugged me!
“You know, if I train you I could really help you look good in a few months!” he said.
“Do I really look that bad now?” I asked.
He did not reply.
Sam did not mean to make me fee bad. In fact, I really did not take that much offense. His comments did do one thing for me. They lit a fire under me and they gave me a compelling vision for a possible future. If I eat a proper diet, exercise daily, and follow Sam’s training regime, this middle-aged, out-of-shape, overweight preacher standing before you can be transformed into a major hunk! (At the very least, I can get rid of this extended waist).
When you are moving toward the future, it is good to know where you are going. It is good to have a vision of how things are going to look down the road a bit. If you want to loose weight and gain some muscular definition, it is good to have a mental picture of how you are going to look as you go through the process.
The same is true for most every other endeavor in life.
The couple who sacrifices now to same more to put their children in college has a mental picture of their son or daughter being launched into a successful career.
The student who enters college to receive an education to pursue a career has a picture of themselves in that career at some later point in their lives.
The athlete who spends extra hours in the gym to increase their strength or hone their skills has a picture of being one of the elite in their field of endeavor.
It is good to have a picture of the end game in mind. It is good to have a vision of how things are going to turn out. Such a vision can help inspire you now to keep on keeping on. Such a vision can inspire you to run farther, to lift more, to save more, to study more intentionally.
The author of the biblical book of Proverbs knew this. It is what prompted him to write, “Without a vision, the people perish!” The opposite is also true! “With a vision, the people prosper!”
I think this may have had something to do with Jesus motivation for allowing Peter, James, and John to become privy to the event recorded in today’s scripture reading.
Jesus set out for a private prayer retreat in the mountains, inviting James, John, and Peter to accompany him. They prayed together for several hours. It started to get late. James, John, and Peter were getting a bit sleepy and were ready to turn in for the evening when something amazing happened. The text says that Jesus was transfigured. That is a fancy word simply means that his appearance was transformed into something different. His face began to glow. His clothes became as bright as flashes of lightening. It was an awesome experience. Now if they were not enough, the disciples discover that Jesus was not alone. Two of Israel’s ancient heroes, Moses and Elijah, had joined Jesus on the mountain.
This was not a typical, normal, everyday experience—even for Jesus. Something special was happening. The disciples understood this. The appearance of Elijah and Moses confirmed the identity of Jesus as the Messiah. The transfiguration was a revelation of the presence, power, and glory of God. It was an epiphany. It was an eye-opening appearance of God. It was a vision that revealed the truth of who Jesus really was. It was also a vision of who they could become if they were to stick with Jesus. Stick with Jesus and they could reflect the glory of God the Father.
Jesus has allowed Peter, James, and John to catch a glimpse of the glory of God so that they could see what was in store for them if they remained focused on Kingdom business.