Summary: Seeing Jesus as Savior and Lord and having a relationship him is vital for Christians as we carry on his mission and ministry.
Matthew 17:1-9 “Seeing Jesus in a New Light”
When I was growing up, I often read a children’s magazine entitled, Highlights. No, I didn’t read it because of its great editorials. I was into the pictures. There was always one page that had a picture with some things out of place in it. A cactus would be in a Northwood’s forest, or a grizzly bear in a dog kennel. The challenge was to find all of the out of place pictures.
Our story today of Jesus’ transfiguration reminds me of those out of place items in Highlights magazine. Matthew’s gospel is filled with Jesus healing the sick, casting out demons, feeding the five thousand, and teaching the multitudes. Immediately before his transfiguration Jesus predicts his suffering and death. The focus has been on Jesus’ love and compassion. This revelation of Jesus’ power and glory is in juxtaposition to the rest of his ministry. I find myself asking the question, “Why?” Perhaps, you do, too.
Though this story is different, it is an important story. It is contained in three of the four gospels. Millions of Christians, for hundreds and thousands of years have found hope, strength, and purpose for them in the midst of their celebrations and struggles—their journeys through life.
THE REAL JESUS
The disciples had been with Jesus for almost three years. They had heard Jesus as he taught the multitudes, and they had seen his many miracles as he sought to ease the suffering of the people. They had only recently begun to understand who Jesus was. Just a few days prior to his transfiguration, Jesus had finally been identified by Peter as the messiah.
If the disciples were to continue to carry out Jesus’ ministry and prepare the world for his coming, it was vitally important for them to understand who Jesus really was and to see his power and glory.
It is important for us to have the same experience as the disciples. So many people limit God to a distant creator, who is not involved in the everyday occurrences of life. Others only experience religion as a set of rituals to be performed each Sunday. We must move beyond these ideas and see Jesus as both our Savior and our Lord. It is important for us to see Jesus’ power and glory in our daily relationship with him.
We have responded to the vision of our Capital Fund Campaign because our faith is more than rituals, and the God whom we serve is not distant but rather immanent.
I think that God knew that Jesus’ return would not happen quickly. The Lord allowed three disciples to see Jesus transfigured before them, and to hear God’s voice instructing them to listen to his beloved son.
Mountain top experiences are rare in the daily life of a Christian. We must content ourselves to following Jesus and seeking to do his will even if we don’t sense his presence. We continue to be his disciples in the midst of broken or strained relationships, rebellious teens, domineering parents, autocratic bosses, sickness, loss, grief and death.
The Christian life does not consist of solely of goals achieved. Our lives are journeys. It will be a great day when we walk through the doors of our new community center/church. The important part, though, will be the daily walk of obedient faith that we have started. During this journey we will continually be strengthened by the words of Jesus as he comforts and challenges us.
Several times in our walk with Jesus, we hear his voice. He speaks to us in the words of the Bible. The Spirit speaks to us in our inner being. When we listen we hear Jesus proclaim his love for us, the forgiveness of our sins, and his assurance that he will never leave us or forsake us.
Occasionally in our journey of faith and service, we will see Jesus. This doesn’t happen, usually, in a miraculous epiphany. Most of the time, we see Jesus in the fellowship of believers.
• We see Jesus in a word of encouragement
• We see Jesus in a listening ear, or in a shoulder to cry on
• We see Jesus in the presence of our brothers and sisters in Christ
• We see Jesus in the bread and wine of communion
When we see Jesus we are refreshed and renewed in our struggles, our celebrations, and our lives of service.
We have a lot to celebrate today. In a sense, as we hear about the money that has been given and the ministry that this allows us to have, we see God’s glory and power. We have a long journey before us, however. It is a journey in which we will need each other to nurture and encourage us. It is a journey that will enable us to celebrate often because Jesus is with us. Not only will we be able to see Jesus’ power and glory, but the people of Surprise will be able to see Jesus, also.