Let us pray: Dear Savior, how comforting it is to know that in Your physical absence from our lives You remain so close! How comforting to know that You are but a hairsbreath away from the dimension in which we currently live. And most of all, how comforting it is to know that You will return to share Your glory, power, and majesty with humble sinners such as us. Armed with that knowledge may we never lose heart as we struggle in this sin-filled world. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE LORD OF GLORY AND MIGHT!
TEXT: Mark 9: 2-9
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
One of the most remarkable and dramatic events in my lifetime occurred about 20 odd years ago in Berlin. President Reagan was there to give a speech during the height of the cold war. Or course, the famous line from that speech, which I can hear him say even today, was: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
In reading over this text I’m reminded of the unseen wall that separates those of us bound by physical reality from the mind-boggling eternal realm of God. Obviously, it is so close, yet for us, so far. And so today, may we all ponder this lesson and pray to our risen and victorious Lord,
DEAR JESUS, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!
After preparing the disciples for the upcoming anguish that awaited Christ in Jerusalem when He would suffer a grisly death on the cross and then rise to glory by foretelling it all in advance, Jesus retired to a mountain outside of Caesarea Philippi. He took with Him Peter, James and John, the “big three” of the disciples. The same folks that would soon experience the depth of Christ’s care for souls, for us, in Gethsemane. In doing so He wanted to strengthen them for the heartache they would see and feel. He wanted to prepare them for the tough road ahead by revealing the unseen glory that could not be taken from Him—even in death.
“There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.”
From other parallel accounts in Scripture, we know that it was during the dawning hours. No doubt, the “big three” had fallen asleep—much like they would later in Gethsemane. But then they awake to this sight! Not of Jesus reflected in the early morning sun, not of Him mirroring snow light from the surrounding peaks, but of Christ emanating, pulsing light itself from His very presence. Yes, Christ is the eternal Son of God! Yes, He dwells in unapproachable light!
Then, to their added amazement, they see and know!!!–even though they had never laid eyes on them before, Moses and Elijah! Here was the great giver of the law, Moses, the hero of the nation. Here was the greatest of the prophets, Elijah, who had been taken directly by God into heaven in a fiery, heavenly chariot! And these three were talking. What were they talking about? Well, we can only speculate. But, I believe there is little doubt as to the gist of their discussion. It had to be about Christ’s upcoming suffering and death for your sins and mine. It had to be about the fulfillment of their prophetic work. And it also had to be about the glorious victory Jesus would win thereby, culminating in His resurrection from His, and our graves. It was about our eternal future. It was about the one issue that amazes even the saints and angels in heaven—the depth of God’s self-sacrificing love for lost souls.
Years later, the aged Peter wrote of this stupendous day. His words still ring with power and awe. “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is My Son, whom I love; with him I am well-pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.”
Then, after Peter and the others got over their fear, shock and awe, Peter knew in his heart that this was the essence of life. This experience, this joyous sight, this heart-warming reality of the eternal realm was just too wonderful to leave behind. So, he blurts out those rather foolish words: “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one of Moses, and one for Elijah.” Later in recounting this event to Mark, Peter adds as an aside, “He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.” But then, in an instant, after God’s voice booms from the cloud and they fall prostrate on the ground, they look up and this vision of their future is gone. Only their loving Savior, the approachable Lord clothed in human flesh, remains. And so we have the pattern for the Christian on this world: the spiritual highs and lows of this life eventually culminating in the eternal “high” of heaven!
Dear Savior, tear down this wall! That is and should be our plea as we ponder the transfiguration. For the wall separating us from glory is O so slight yet O so thick. But instead of dwelling on its thickness and how distant God seems, we all need to focus on how close He really is. How comforting it is to know that the saints, our saints, your saints and mine, are but and eye-blink away. How comforting it is to know that Jesus had, has, and now wants to share the perfect light and joy of eternity with us. How comforting it is to know that He has bridged the chasm between mortality and immortality. Yes, we are surrounded, even though we don’t physically see it, surrounded by an army, a cloud of witnesses to His forgiving love. Today at Pinewood the church pews may not be full, yet the church is full. It is packed by these witnesses. And at the head of that living army stands Christ, to Whom we say: “Dear Savior, tear down this wall!” And to which He replies: “I have and I will!” Amen