Monday, February 16, 2015

Listen to Him

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, 3 and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one [1] on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 5 And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, [2] it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; [3] listen to him.” 8 And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. 9 And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.”  (Mark 9:2-9 (ESV)
“This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” We have heard it before. These words spoken as the heavens are rendered open. These were the words of an overjoyed Father at the baptism of Jesus. Now they are the words of the Father’s blessing upon the Son of man who goes to Jerusalem for you that he might rise from the dead, that in his resurrection we would behold the same divine glory seen by Peter, James and John. Listen to him, says the Father.
Listen to him. Not an easy task. To listen to the Son, is to believe the son, to fear, to love, to trust the Son above all things. To listen to the Son is to hold firm with him, to obey him when he says turn the other cheek. To obey him when he says Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your mind and strength. To love your neighbor as yourself. Do this and you will live, he says.
But of course, Jesus wasn’t the only one to say these words. There was Elijah who said them, and Moses before him. The spokesmen of the law. These two men on the mountain talking with Jesus, they had lived by these words and they had died by these words, well Moses did anyway but Elijah didn’t keep them perfectly either. Even Elijah had to experience a death of sorts as his body was transformed in the twinkling of an eye, purged of its sins in the fiery chariots as it was brought into the presence of God. Those who live by the sword also die by the sword. And make no doubt about it, God’s word is a double edged sword, sharper than a scalpel and it will cut right through your soul, the law will leave you lying on the ground with no hope.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your might. And the first three commandments barely register on our radar as we go about our business. Love your neighbor as yourself? Right, that coworker smacking her food at the lunch table, who just grates on your nerves with that self-righteous tone as she talks to your boss? Hardly.
Who of us can really say that we have listened to Jesus when it comes to these words? Who of us can say that we have anything to boast of here? None, not even Moses and Elijah could say that they had lived this law perfectly, that they had practiced what they preached when it came to these words. And that is why they are here talking to Jesus on the mountain. They are talking to their savior, the man who will atone for their sins. They are talking about what he must do in order to fulfill the law and the prophets. For it is from here on the mount of Transfiguration that Jesus turns, here his earthly ministry starts drawing to a close as Epiphany gives way to Lent. He will descend from this mountain that he might climb Golgotha, and it will be there, where Jesus himself loves God with all his heart, soul, and strength, where Jesus shows what it means to Love God, by loving his neighbors all those whom God loves, all those whom he created, every last person on earth. Jesus loves God by loving you. Jesus loves you by dying on the cross. And it is there that the words of the Son are heard, the words of the son of whom the Father says, Listen to him. And there his words are “It is finished.”
There is the other edge on that sword, the gospel that cuts through the straps of the law binding us to death, freeing us from sin with the love of God. It is finished? What is it that is finished? What is it that is completed? It is your salvation. It is the completion of the law, the fulfilment of the prophecies. It is here, the command to love is fulfilled in totality, that having been loved we might be free to love. Here, are the words of Jesus Christ. It is finished. You are forgiven. The love of God is complete in the love of the son for you. And there his glory is made manifest in the resurrection of the Son of Man who gives you life.

Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. 

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