"As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed,
and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning."
"While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, 'This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.' When the voice had spoken,
they found that Jesus was alone."
Dear Members and Friends,
Along with my duties and responsibilities at MLEPC, I have the privilege of teaching a course on the Bible in its historical context at Duquesne University. The students and I recently began discussing what it means for Jesus to 'transcend' our ideas, our opinions, and even our wills. So often in our culture and age, we surmised, we humans attempt to create a Jesus that conforms to us. To our likes or dislikes. To our whims, opinions, judgments of ourselves and others, and most especially, to our ideas of what it looks like to be in covenant relationship with God the Father. Then we often apply those standards to others, in addition to ourselves. We try to make a Jesus in our own image, instead of surrendering to the idea that Jesus transcends every human endeavor, thought, and desire, and for Him, this is for the purpose of transforming human beings into His good and perfect image. Yet we human beings tend to be a stubborn species.
In our Bible passage for this Sunday, which I am honored to unpack and interpret in a sermon, Jesus illustrates His transcendence to His disciples. Jesus allows just a small bit of His glory to shine through. And the disciples simply can't handle it. First, they are so mesmerized and hypnotized by Jesus' radiance, that they get sleepy. Yes-sleepy. Jesus' realness and authentic glory and perfection literally stuns the disciples to sleep. Then their reaction turns to delirium. They begin to speak in gibberish-the babble of ordinary and mundane language instead of the language of glory. They are obviously confused, because in this passage, Jesus shows Himself as wholly other. Other than us, in our weakness, frailness, imperfection, and trivial opinions. Jesus shows Himself as the one, true God-the only guiding light in this world, and the only one in whose image human beings are made. He flips everything they know, and everything they think they know about God, on its head.
And once the Father, speaking from heaven, adds the exclamation point through His declaration of Jesus' glory and unique sonship, Luke points out something very interesting. "When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone." Only Jesus remains. Alone. Unique. Singular. Special.
There is a lesson here. When we as human beings are moved to surrender, which itself is often a byproduct of worship and thanksgiving, or vice-versa, we begin to accept Jesus as the only One who has the right answers, and is the right answer. And in that truth is great peace and freedom. No matter what is going on in life, we don't have to feel the need to be what only Jesus already is. Instead, we allow Him to be the glorious One, the One with the answers, and the One with the power to redeem every circumstance, speak power into any human weakness, and bring love into every open heart. And that's what I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving, 2018.
May the Lord Jesus Christ richly bless each of you, in His love and grace,