Reflections for the Week of Sunday August 6, 2017 Ninth after Pentecost

Gospel: Luke 9.28-36 tells of the Transfiguration when Jesus‘ divine glory shone out through His body and His clothes as He spoke with Moses and Elijah about a new exodus (v.31), and the Father commended Him from the cloud as He had done at His baptism.

The Transfiguration occurred about 6-8 days after Peter confessed that Jesus was the Messiah. After this confession Jesus said if anyone wanted to come after Him, he should deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Him. In the Beatitudes (Mt 5.3-12) He had told them what it meant to follow Him. Some translations of the Beatitudes say “Happy are you if you are poor in spirit,” etc, translating Greek makarios as happy, but a better translation is “blessed.” If we deny ourselves, and take up our cross and follow Jesus, I don’t know that we would call such a life “happy.” Jesus is referred to as “the Man of Sorrows.” But those following Him will be blessed. We will be transformed, will be sanctified, will have a purpose larger than our own life (to help bring in God’s kingdom), and have meaning in life (again, the kingdom as God’s will for His people: “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done”), and all that will bring joy and fulfillment. The evidence of the transfiguration and the resurrection of the Lord should be evidence enough to follow Him. Jesus believed He was called to confront the forces of evil ranged against the kingdom of God – the forces of chaos and destruction, of hatred and suspicion, of violence, pride, greed, and ambition. This was the heart of how He saw His own royal and priestly vocation. He fought the battle for the kingdom through His own suffering and death as the Messiah and offered the sacrifice of Himself as the true Priest at the heart of the temple. The kingdom and the cross are closely related. No doubt, following Him will involve suffering. Our mission is more than helping the needy, and telling people about salvation. The mission is to rescue people who don’t know what their purpose in life is or what the meaning of life is. Mankind needs to be redeemed, to be liberated from corruption and death. Jesus came to bring about a new creation which includes His followers as “new men.” It (and they) are new because He is now reigning as King, and He has given His followers His Spirit which makes them new and gives their life new meaning and purpose. This is what Jesus meant when He said on the cross, “It is finished.” He meant the new creation was born just as the old creation had been, on the sixth day of the week. And just as in Genesis 1 and 2 God rested on the seventh day, so on the Sabbath Jesus rested in the tomb. The goal of the kingdom is not “happiness” and the “good life,” but doing God’s will and seeing that His will is accomplished on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus believed and taught that human beings have a sickness at heart (Jer 17.9) which all attempts at self-betterment cannot touch. If the kingdom is to be launched, the sickness must be dealt with. The old world and the old human heart have not just to be reformed but killed. The way to the kingdom is the way of the cross, becoming a royal priesthood, becoming genuinely human, and this always involves a battle, always a struggle, and often a defeat. So it was with our Master, and so will it be with those who follow Him. But this does not change the fact that pursuing this goal is the way to glory. The road may be difficult and the way narrow and steep, but “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us…because the creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rm 8.18,22).

Memory Verse: And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Luke 9.35

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