Sermon Ideas For Luke 9:28-43 Part 2
"Are you listening to me?!" A common question asked by my mother when I was a small boy. Always the question came when she had told me to do something (or stop doing something), and I had not obeyed. I used to be amused about the question about hearing. My hearing was fine. But my behavior was not so good. This lection uses "listen" much like my mother. God's voice from the cloud directed the attention of the disciples to Jesus with the admonition: "Listen to him!"
The directive: "listen" was a command meaning hear and obey. Discipleship of Jesus includes both elements. One must hear, learn, understand what Jesus wants. But one is not truly a disciple until learning is matched by behavior. Discipleship is a way of living consistent with the life of Jesus. When we direct people to listen to Jesus, we are asking them to learn from him and follow his example of life faithful to God.
This lection raises two issues for contemporary life.
First, can we glimpse God in our lives today? It is not enough just to "see" or know God is present. We need a glimpse of God because of the change it makes in our lives.
Much of God's presence and activities in this world is incognito. Seldom does the activity of God yield to "film at 11:00" certainty. It can be ambiguous, open to differing interpretations. What is clearly the work of God for one may be a remarkable coincidence for another. What is miraculous to one may be good fortune to another. For Christians, the danger may be "sleepiness." This low level of alertness or awareness may prevent recognition of God's presence and activities. Like the disciples struggling to stay awake on the mountain, we may have difficulty sustaining full consciousness of God.
When people are alert to the guidance of God in their lives, they are equipped to live differently. One of the most important business leaders in a southern community was respected for his ability and his magnetic personality. But he was known for use of the most vulgar of language. At a lunch meeting one day, he confided to a minister who was sitting next to him: "Reverend, I don't suppose you will believe it, but I studied for the ministry at one time. In fact, I preached a little during my sophomore year in college. Sounds silly, doesn't it? Think of my being a preacher." "No, John," replied the clergy, "it doesn't sound silly. It sounds wonderful. Tell me, John, what would you give to be able to go back to those days and be the man you were then, think the thoughts you thought then, dream the dreams you dreamed then, live on the high level you lived then? Have you known anything so splendid since?"
There was a moment of silence as the business man thought. At last he looked at the minister, serious now. "You are right preacher. They were my best years. I would give anything I have for a return of those years of high aspiration."
Most of us need help with such recognition of God's presence and guidance. The ancient sport of falconry employed trained hawks in the chase of wild game. When the "educated predator" was allowed to fly, however, it often rose too high for human eyes to see it against the blue sky. It was therefore not uncommon to carry a small caged bird called a shrike. The hunter could then easily tell where his hawk was located by watching the antics of the little creature in front of him, for it instinctively feared the falcon and always cocked its head to keep it in view. The Christian desperately needs the sensitivity and perception of other believers who can help "glimpse" God.
A second issue is can we be alert and listen to Jesus? Life in the contemporary American society makes many demands on one. There is a multitude of claims on our allegiance. How can one hear and obey Jesus in such a setting?
In Directions, James Hamilton writes: "Before refrigerators, people used icehouses to preserve their food. Icehouses had walls a foot thick, no windows, and a tightly fitting door. In winter, when lakes were frozen, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled by wagon to the icehouses, and covered with sawdust. Often this ice would last well into the summer. One man lost a valuable watch while working in an icehouse. He searched carefully for it, raking through the sawdust, but did not find it. His fellow workers looked but could not find it. A small boy who heard about the loss slipped into the icehouse and a few minutes later emerged with the watch. Amazed, the men asked how he had found it. `I closed the door, lay down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon, I heard it ticking.'"
"Listening" to Jesus today entails shutting out all the competing claims to give full attention to him.