Sermon Ideas For Luke 9:28-43 Part 3
In examining this passage, the context in which it is placed draws my attention. In each Synoptic account, this divine, revelatory manifestation of Christ in heavenly glory event follows directly a clear, frank, articulation by Jesus himself of how he will be rejected openly by the political/religious status quo, suffer much, be put to death, and that three days later again he would live.
The disciples apparently didn't hear this very well; Peter was even so bold as to scold Jesus openly for speaking disparagingly of himself. Then Jesus makes a remarkable statement, not just to the disciples, but to the crowd of people around him: "for a follower of Christ to save his or her own life, he or she must die first." What a paradox. Even Peter doesn't know how to respond to this, and there is silence in the camp for approximately a week. Then Jesus repeats himself, this time in the context of extremely different circumstances: the Transfiguration.
This was a much more exciting event, to be sure, what with the light, glory, two venerated historical figures, etc...and it plays right into the ideas/ambitions of the three disciples witnessing it. This is how they see their hopes, dreams and aspirations of being connected with Jesus should be realized.
As in most situations of life, however, glory, honor, praise and adoration do not happen automatically. Particularly within the context of Christianity is the repeated admonition that ultimate glory comes only out of a context of suffering, of paying a price, of doing something/being somebody worthy of such honor. However that may be, suffering is not pleasant, and, being the kind of people we are, we try to avoid suffering as much as possible.
As flooded as we are with global suffering these days, thanks to satellite technology, our sensibilities easily become rather numbed to the reality of anything divine. To glimpse even faintly the glory of divinity causes us to shudder.
The Israelites shuddered too, at the divine glory emanating from Moses' face after his being on the mountain with the Lord. They had enough difficulties with his righteousness before he met the Lord on the mountain.
Lighting a candle in a completely dark room will brighten the room significantly; take this same candle and place it in direct sunlight, and the candle's flame will cast a shadow on the ground. So it is with the Son of Righteousness. His glory and light is significantly greater than that of any glory and light which might reflect from us in our earthly existence. This is what the three disciples witnessed on the Mount. It startled them so much they didn't know what to say. Peter, being the kind of guy Peter was, blubbered out something anyway. All three were stunned, I imagine, at the conversation Jesus had with Moses and Elijah, and tried to ignore or overlook it. That is not what they wanted to hear. I very well may have missed the point, too, in the midst of all such pomp and circumstances.
However this may be, it is encouraging to know that the glory of God is stronger than my doubts; "The Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out" (Jn 1:4,5 TEV). It is quite heartening also, to remember that I have been invited to share in and reflect this glory, notwithstanding my own doubting, avoidance, fear of the Holy, often selfish ambitions and all-too-feeble strivings for excellence. Suffering is part of the journey too, and this is a sobering thought.
The Lord does not forsake us. Love is stronger than hate; Good will prevail, ultimately, over Evil. Sometimes this is hard to discern, but it happens. In the midst of the deepest darkness we can see, if we watch for it, indications of light still shining.
The disciples, in the aftermath of Jesus' first speech concerning the necessity of his own suffering, were quite in the dark about it still. So Jesus cranked up the wattage a bit for Peter, James, and John. Eventually they reflected that light quite well.
You and I have been entrusted with a similar charge:
"You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead he puts it on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven." (Mt 5:14-16 TEV).
It is not likely you or I will radiate as the Lord did to the disciples on the mountain that night so long ago, but we can give off an authentic reflection, indicative of the Lord's continued presence in our lives and the world at large. "All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us unto his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory." (2 Co 3:18 TEV)