And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” Mark 9:2-6
This is a crazy story. Jesus tells the religious leaders he’s not going to give a sign, and then he does here, at least to Peter, James and John. We get to see without a doubt that there is something extraordinary and supernatural about Jesus. He is not just a man.
And Peter later uses this in his testimony –“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.” II Peter 1:16-18
And it probably influenced John’s testimony as well –“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
So what is so cool about this, is that through the transfiguration, God gave a powerful experience to men who would later have be able to impact the whole world through their strong convictions. It’s not that Jesus didn’t want to do signs and wonders, it’s that he was going to do them at the right time, for the right reasons.
And I think the same is true for us. God is not stingy with His grace. There are times when we have powerful experiences. Let’s be sure to attribute them to God, and let them impact us, and thus the world.
Maybe it’s not on the same scale as the transfiguration, but I am amazed that I was able to have a yard sale last Saturday. It is something that seemed completely overwhelming to me for years. Yet I was able to get it planned, get the stuff together, put out an ad, and price my items. Tons of people came and we made $300 for special contribution! Also, I think Easter Sunday was pretty astounding. We had almost 90 people at church, including 16 children! With the picnic afterwards, it was an idyllic day.
Jesus sought out powerful encounters with God. He didn’t just go off somewhere to pray. He went to a HIGH mountain. It was a place where they could be by THEMSELVES. They had to put in some effort to get there.
We need to seek powerful encounters, mountain top experiences, too — times we go to meet with God and be transformed!
This is why we go on retreats. But that’s not enough. When I lived in Atlanta, in the pressure cooker of raising my kids, I used to have some pretty bad days. When I was full of tears and emotion and felt at the end of my rope, I would drive to Stone Mountain and hike up to the top, praying all the way. There was something about being up there with my Bible, looking out over the city as I wrestled with God, that helped. I always felt better.
I remember other times when I would just take a walk, or go outside in the evening where it was just me and the fireflies. There I would lay my troubles on God and try to work through them.
A couple of months ago I had a long car trip by myself, and I used that time to listen to the Bible and talk to God like He was in the seat next to me. It helped a lot with what I was going through. Sometimes I fast for a day, and spend some time with God and a notebook, writing it down as I feel like I get resolution from the Spirit on things that perplex me.
Okay, enough about that. But here is one more thing I want to say about mountain top experiences. We may be having them right now, and not even know it.
I realized yesterday that I’ve been YEARNING to build the married and family ministry here. In doing so, I’ve taken on an, “if only” attitude. “If only we could convert some married, then things would be all right.”
The thing I realized about that, was that this is the same thing I’ve through through the years about other wants. “If only we could convert a campus girl so Jessica wasn’t the only one.” “If only we could have some baptisms.” “If only we could get a leader.”
If only we could get those things, then I would be happy. Then things would be all right.
The thing about that, is that attitude could keep me from relishing the amazing blessings I had, blessings I see even more clearly in retrospect. They were awesome days when Jessica was the only girl, and we had great times getting together! I can think of so many awesome times with people over the years. I miss those people who have moved away!
SO TODAY, EVEN IF WE DON’T HAVE EVERYTHING WE WANT IN THE MINISTRY, IT IS THE BEST OF TIMES! Let us be present and relish the relationships we have, and realize how powerful it is that God has given us this.
Going on, another thing about the transfiguration story that’s encouraging is that we can see the process of being physically transformed. It helps me to have faith in what I will be one day. My flesh will decay, but somehow I will have a spiritual body like Jesus. After all, the Bible says he clothes us with his righteousness. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.“ II Cor 5:21
The last thing I a going to talk about here, and maybe my most favorite thing, is what God said to Jesus: “This is my beloved son.”
The word for beloved is an extension of the word agape, the word for unconditional love. The word used here is agapetos, and it means more than just loved unconditionally, it means divinely-loved; personally experiencing God’s “agapē-love.”
God basically told Jesus that He loves him in an extraordinary way, a full on Godly way. It was a special kind of encouragement for Jesus. It must have filled him to the brim with good feeling, even empowered him.
But remember, that Mark 9 starts with the statement that some will see the kingdom of God come with power. And this is what I want to stress . That the kingdom coming is not just a time when we die to self and have new birth, as I mentioned in the previous blog.
The kingdom ushers in a time when WE can be God’s children — HIS BELOVED, even as Jesus was the beloved son. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” I John 3:1
This means so much to me. In our emotional healing support group this past week I realized that one of the main things I need to be healed of is feeling that I don’t belong. As I REALLY realize that I am God’s beloved child, I begin to KNOW that I BELONG. That is just what I need.
God gives us his spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing that we are divine, that we are His and we have a place in His eternal kingdom.
I am enough. I am not flawed, I DO fit in. I am perfectly the person God made me to be, and He thinks I am incredibly special, and believes in my potential, even eagerly anticipates seeing me fulfill my potential, just as I anticipate this for my children.
So let’s seek powerful encounters with God. Let’s appreciate the powerful ways He is already working in our lives. And most of all, let’s bask in the sure conviction that we are beloved, and He will equip us with everything we need for the future.