Daily D – Luke 9:28-31
Luke 9:28-31 About eight days later Jesus took Peter, John, and James up on a mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly, two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared and began talking with Jesus. They were glorious to see. And they were speaking about his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem. (NLT)
What went wrong?
A few days ago, we were on top of the mountain. The climb was invigorating and exhausting. Sometime during prayer, I drifted off to sleep. Physical exertion, warm sunshine, and eyes closed in prayer for an extended time have a way of doing that to me.
When I heard voices, unfamiliar voices, I awoke and stretched and prayed for forgiveness for going to sleep in the posture of prayer. In the middle of this prayer, I discovered everything had changed. A few days before this moment, I declared who I had come to believe Jesus was. I said, “You are the Messiah sent from God!” (See Luke 9:20.)
I was so delighted with this sacred comprehension, and for getting the right answer for a change, that I kind of misunderstood what Jesus said next. The one thing that stuck in my memory was when Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God.” (See Luke 9:27.)
That sounded good. That sounded promising. Since I got the right answer, I was hoping to be one of those who saw what he said. And I nearly missed it during my nap. Naps are good for you, but don’t nap too long. You do not want to miss what Jesus does next.
So there I was rubbing sleep from my eyes. When my focus returned, I saw Jesus, but not like I had ever seen Jesus. Then there were Moses and Elijah. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Then I thought I was still asleep dreaming that I had awakened to this moment. This was no vision. This was the real thing. Jesus was Jesus in all of his glory. Moses and Elijah were, well, also glorious.
For maybe the first time in my life, I couldn’t think of anything to say for a long time. In awe, I listened as Moses talked about Jesus’ exodus. I listened as Elijah talked about wind and fire and earthquakes followed by gentle breezes of enfolding grace.
I never wanted to leave that moment in that place. I wanted to experience that glory forever. I wanted that peace and perfection, that love overflowing. I never wanted to descend to the life I had always known. Heaven was home, and heaven was closer than I had ever known.
I confess, I had to say something. I wish I had had something to say worth hearing or taking action on. What I said was what I was thinking. I wanted to camp out in that place and listen to Jesus, Moses, and Elijah talk about whatever they wanted to talk about. I was willing to keep my mouth shut forever if they allowed me to sit and stay like a loyal dog.
But when I blurted out my desires (verse 33), a glorious cloud overshadowed us. Surrounded by the very presence of God, I was terrified. Then God spoke.
“This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him.”
My heart pounded, my eyes shut tight, and I lowered myself into a ball.
When the cloud departed and the sunshine, depleted in comparison to what I had just seen, fell upon me again, I opened my eyes. All I saw was Jesus.
No Moses. No Elijah. No cloud.
This was when I discovered a next-level truth beyond the fact that Jesus is the Messiah. When all I have is Jesus, Jesus is all I need.
That made me bold. That put steel in my spine. That made me a warrior. That led me to wielding a sword so handily that I cut off a guy’s ear when I intended to split his skull. Jesus was there and more than equal to the task. He healed the ear and let me know, again, I was more of a problem than a protector.
That’s when they arrested him and took him away. It was all my fault.
Things went from bad to worse. Everything went wrong, terribly, terribly wrong. Jesus was brutally beaten. Jesus died. He was a victim of horrible injustice. He was humiliated and treated like a criminal of the very worst sort. He died for the whole world to see, exposed, with his blood and life completely spilled out. And he died with kinder words than any I have ever spoken.
What went wrong?
How does Messiah inhabit a tomb? How does the Glorious One, the Light of the World lie wrapped in darkness? Where and how did we lose the Light?
I will go to my grave remembering that day on the mountain.
I will go to his grave tomorrow when the crowds have gone home so that I may speak to his lifeless body and ask, “What went wrong?”
Call me Ichabod. The Glory has departed.
I will go to my grave knowing I’m the reason Jesus died.
Our Father, it was my sin that placed Jesus on the cross. It was my rebellion that caused his suffering. It was my hardened heart that laid him in the tomb. I am so sorry. Could you ever forgive me? Amen.
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