Summary: A sermon for Transfiguration of the Lord Sunday.
"Seeing Jesus Differently"
A doctor shares the following story:
"In college, I met a gentleman whom, when I first saw him, had no hair on the back of his head.
As a stupid 18-year-old, I thought, that's a strange haircut, and I was then informed by a friend that he had just completed radiation and chemotherapy for a malignancy.
We became close friends.
He married and because of his treatment, was unable to have children and ultimately, adopted several children."
The doctor continues, "I wish I could say that the happy story ended there, but it's not necessarily a happy story, because, you see, several of his children have serious medical/behavioral psychiatric problems.
I'm not talking about minor problems.
I'm talking about serious ones, with multiple hospitalizations, grief that I can't even describe to you.
In an email to me, he describes his struggles with God's goodness when his child was gripped again by illness and hospitalized again.
He was exasperated and called to God:
'I can't go on like this, God. Why is this happening?'
And from God, no answer.
'If this is love, then I don't want love. I don't like it.'
'How can you be doing this to me?
You're going to have to show me something because I don't get it and I can't keep this up.'
But then I asked, 'Do you have any idea what it's like to see your son suffering?'
And then, I stopped.
I had my answer.
We have a strange religion.
God's answer to our suffering was to become one of us to suffer with us and for us."
The man finishes, "I cried buckets."
I don't have to tell you that we live in a lost, fallen and broken world.
There is a lot of pain here.
Some of the pain is almost unimaginable.
It can be so bad that we can hardly believe it's real.
For instance, I cannot image the pain, the grief, the anguish of the parents of the Kindergarten and Elementary age children who were randomly shot and killed in their school in Newtown, Connecticut.
I can only guess at the pain in the hearts and minds of the parents of the boys who underwent that horrible rape situation at the hands of their teammates on the Ooltewah High School basketball team.
Or what about the anguish of the parents of the children who perpetrated the horrific act?
To think that their "sweet little children" whom "only yesterday" were crawling around as little baby's could be capable of committing such a twisted and evil attack!!!
Or what about the parents of a bright young child who has always been filled with joy, happiness and such promise--but suddenly becomes ill and is diagnosed with a terminal disease?
What are we to do; what are we to think; how are we to cope with such horror?
This is the last Sunday before Lent.
I do hope you will come to our Ash Wednesday Service this week.
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, which is the 40 days (not counting Sundays) before Easter.
Between Ash Wednesday and Easter, a lot happens.
The Lord of glory is arrested, beaten--experiences the full extent of our pain and grief.
He is humiliated, spit upon, and torn from His friends and family.
Then He is forced--bloody and weak, to carry His own Cross, His own torture device, out to a horrible hill where Roman guards nail His hands and feet to it.
The Cross is then lifted up, ripping at His hands and feet.
He undergoes the most painful, horrific death imaginable.
And all the while, He is laughed at and mocked as flies buzz around His face, birds of prey fly overhead, and animals lick their chops and bite at His feet.
And why does He do this?
He does this because we suffer.
He does this because He loves us and has come to suffer with us.
He does this to let us know that we are not alone and that this often painful life, is not some random cruel joke.
He does this to show us that the God of the Universe is ONE with us in our suffering.
He does this because this is how much God so loves you and me and everyone else!!!
He does this to demonstrate what our suffering does to Him...
...what it feels like for God to see us go through what we go through on this earth.
He does this to give us hope, faith and to fill our hearts with love for God and one another.
In our Scripture passage for this morning, Jesus takes Peter, James and John up on a mountain to pray.
Just before this Jesus told them, "I assure you that some standing here won't die before they see God's kingdom."