It’s your birthday and dad wants to take a picture of you before you blow out the candles on your birthday cake. He lifts the camera to his eye and proceeds to shout, “Smile and say cheese!” You respond with a great big smile and the simple word, “Cheese.” Suddenly a dazzling light from the camera’s flash bulb brightens the room with so much light, it seems brighter than daylight. The flash momentarily “blinds” you and you can see nothing but the glow of the camera’s bulb in your eyesight – an image of the actual flash seems to be imprinted on your eyes. For the moment, this transparent image makes it difficult to see the room clearly as you see the “flash spot” wherever you look; but just as quickly as the flash filled the space, the normal dullness of the room returns and you proceed to blow out the candles as your family and friends sing “Happy Birthday.”
Does this sound familiar? Have you ever had a “flash” of light that seemed to blind you for a moment? Maybe a car on a dark highway has its “brights” on as it approaches your car or maybe a lightning bolt flashes across a darkened sky and catches you off guard.
In our Bible stories for today, we read about two times were God’s followers climbed a mountain and saw the “Glory of God.” In both cases, God’s Glory caused a brightness and radiance which exceeded any “flash” from a camera.
When Moses went up to be with God, God initially used a cloud to represent His presence, or his “Glory” before the people. Many chapters later (Exodus 34:29), we read about how when Moses stood before God again, God’s presence caused Moses’ face to glow. This radiance or brightness scared many of the people, so whenever Moses came down from the mountain he wore a vale, a piece of cloth, over his face. This brightness was caused by the “perfect ness and power” of God. It was simply because Moses was in God’s presence. The “Glory of God” caused Moses’ radiance.
Almost 1500 years later, Jesus’ disciples also saw this brightness or “God’s Glory” when they were with Jesus on the mountain praying. The word used in the Bible is “transfigured” which simply means that Jesus “changed.” For a moment, Jesus’ clothes became as bright as the sun or a lightning bolt, brighter than any camera flash. In that moment, the disciples saw God’s Glory in Jesus. Jesus, who lived with the disciples as a man, was really God. He chose to take the form of a man, because He wanted to live the perfect life we could not live. When Moses came down from the mountain, we learned that if we could not be perfect, we could not go to Heaven; but God loved us so much that He lived the perfect life for us through Jesus and then died for our sinfulness, our imperfectness, on the cross. He took upon Himself our darkness so that we could experience His brightness someday in Heaven. So the next time you see a bright light, think of the brightness of the Glory of God, which we will see someday in heaven.
How do we share the “light” of Christ with others?
What can we do to let “God’s Glory” shine through us?
Dear God, Thank you for the “light” of Jesus. Thank you that because of your love for us, we will someday experience your “radiance” in heaven. Please help us to “shine” the light of Jesus to others around us. May we be your bright lights in a darkened world. In Jesus name, Amen.
"We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." (I John 3:2)
It is amazing to me how our society’s conveniences have shaped who we are and how we live. I came across a commentary on the Internet the other day that demonstrated this. The writer, David Roher talks about how society has even changed how we camp.
The author then goes on to say that “the adventure of new life in Christ begins when the comfortable patterns of the old life are left behind.” To me this is a perfect application of Transfiguration Sunday.
It is a pleasant
day for a hike, and Jesus leads three of His disciples up
Moses, representing the old covenant and the need for a savior, and Elijah, the prophet who was called the “restorer of all things” (Malachi 4:5-6) appeared with Jesus. The Jewish concept of the scriptures being the “Law and Prophets” was being represented on this mountain top; but even more, the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets” was represented through Jesus. But the story does not end here. After Peter offers to put-up some tents for the visitors, God the Father speaks to the disciples with a booming voice from heaven: “This is my son…listen to Him.” Just as quickly as this “change” took place, it was over and the disciples were left with obvious amazement and extreme trepidation. Knowing their hearts, Jesus touched them and comforted them saying, “Do not fear.”
God consistently offered “mountain top” experiences to His people throughout scripture. They are examples of God’s manifestation and Jesus’ glory and demonstrate the “power of God,” and more importantly demonstrate the fulfillment of the law in Jesus Christ. He is the “mountain top” experience for all believers. Through Him, we can all receive a “transformation” from our sinful condition toward the glory He has prepared for us. These examples of “glory” are significant. In the Old Testament, I firmly believe that Moses did not want to leave the presence of God on the mountain. Even Peter was prepared to put up tents. He wanted to stay on the mountain. Can we blame him? We want to stay on the mountain also? Who would want to leave the presence of God? Not me.
So what does a motor home camper have to do with Transfiguration? Simply, they both involved a “transformation.” While Jesus was affirming His God-side, I think He was also emphasizing our need for a “transfiguration” in our lives and then in our ministry approaches.
The theme of the Transfiguration is not simply the majesty and glory of God, or the fulfillment of the Law in Jesus, but more importantly the fact that God’s disciples had to return to earth. God does not want for us to simply and exclusively dwell in the presence of the Glory of God on the mountain – at least not now. Why? Simply stated, ministry takes place at the base of the mountain. This starts when we are willing to demonstrate the “transfiguration” in our lives to others. We must show that Jesus is apart of us; that the glow of our lives is from the source of all power and light, God himself.
What is the real focus of our church’s ministry? Are we making every effort to “touch” people as Jesus did? Are we seeking to offer relief from their fear? This type of ministry makes Jesus real not just to our members, but also to our community. Are we willing to minister within our church’s wilderness, or are we still seeking the inward comforts of our traditional “church motor home”. Does our board seek to teach faith formation within the context of the needs and experiences of the people we minister to now, or is it tied to the traditions and culture of 20 or 30 years ago?
Just like the motor home analogy, true ministry and Christian education begin “when the comfortable patterns of the old life are left behind.” The message of these verses is the necessity to meet the needs of people who desire to meet God on the mountain. To seek God, but know that touching lives and real ministry takes place at the base of the mountain. Here we will see people transformed, as the glory of God is made known to them. May it be so within this board and throughout our church for Jesus sake. Amen.
Thank you for the
new life we receive through your Son Jesus Christ. We come before you tonight, asking that your
Holy Spirit would empower us to make decisions that are pleasing to you. May we as a board seek out ways to
demonstrate to others the “change” you have made in our lives. May we “touch” others the way you touched us
and may we be used by your Holy Spirit to be Jesus with “skin on” to a
community in need of your love and salvation.
Thank you Father. In your Son’s name, Jesus, we pray.