That was our pastor's message for today - based on the story of the transfiguration of Jesus. The story can be found in Matthew 17:1-8, Luke 9:28-36, and Mark 9:2-8. To paraphrase, the story goes that Jesus took Peter, John, and James up to a mountain to pray. While there, they noticed that Jesus was glowing! Then, Moses and Elijah appeared (both had been gone for hundreds of years already), and spoke with Jesus. It doesn't really say what they said, but then a cloud came over them, and a voice came out of the cloud, saying "This is my son. Listen to him!" Then everything disappeared except for Jesus.
Wow. Can you even imagine such a thing? We live in an age where we can see amazing things on TV or the internet, but can you imagine seeing this In Person?? I don't know if I'd have stayed long enough to see only Jesus standing there. I probably would have been halfway down the mountain by then, sliding on the seat of my pants and screaming!
Well, the gist of the message was that no matter what is going on around us, we have to get to where we are focused on Jesus. That was what was really happening there on that mountain. God was turning over the reins, so to speak. Here was Moses, who brought the law. Here was this amazing prophet. And here was God, saying "Listen to Jesus."
This has two implications, to me. First, though we have the Old Testament, we are not living under the Jewish law anymore. Something new has been instituted. We are living according to the gospel of Jesus Christ. And second, we need to sift everything we do and say through that gospel. God himself told the disciples who to look to for answers. And he didn't say to only listen in certain situations or on certain days of the week. It was pretty much a "whatever he says, goes!" type of statement. When we listen to Jesus, we are listening to God. And when we speak to Jesus, we are speaking to God. And when we are living with Jesus, we are living with God.
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Romans 8:31-34 (NIV)
God said "let us make man in our image (Gen.1:26)." And he put man on the earth to take care of his creation. And as long as he was connected to God, everything went well. He was God's representative, and everything behaved as it would for God. It was when he turned his back on God, and wanted to be his own boss, that things went wrong. Instead of unlimited food, the ground produced thorns and thistles, and man had to sweat and strain to get enough food to eat (Gen.3:18-19).
For thousands of years, men sweated under this curse, trying to do it all on his own. God gave him the law, to show him the right way, but he couldn't follow it correctly because he was still trying to do it all himself.
Jesus came to lead us back. To show us that there is a better way. To smooth the path back to God.
Jesus said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Did you know? All of our struggles can be relieved. We just need tunnel vision. To change our focus from ourselves, and the thousands of things in the world that bombard us every day, to Jesus. A few years ago, there was a saying going around, "What would Jesus do?" And that's a pretty good way to look at it. But even better, because, as my son points out, we can't see Jesus, we should maybe say "What would Jesus say?" Because didn't God tell us to listen to him? And we can't really watch him right now, but we can certainly listen. We can read his words in the Bible. We can pray, and expect an answer to come. We live in a verbal society, even if our verbal skills are getting condensed into initials. We still communicate mostly with words. And since we were made in the image of God, we can assume that he does, too.
So listen to Jesus. Read his words, and search your heart. Jesus is ready to lead. He is ready to carry your burdens, and give you rest. But you have to stop being distracted by everything else, and focus on him. And when you do, all of that other stuff will start to fall away. You'll be able to see the good that is happening for you just under the surface, even when things appear to be going wrong. Because he does really want the best for you. But you can never be your best until you are living with him as you were created to do.