Sunday, August 01, 2010

Guest blogger, Stan Nussbaum, takes us on a journey through the messianic year calendar.

Welcome to the journey of our Messiah through the year with Dr. Nussbaum.

August 1 – Power that glows like God himself
“As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance changed, and his clothing became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly process could ever make it.” Mark 9:2-3 (NLT)

The Feast of the Transfiguration (Aug. 6) is by far the least known of the Christian and Jewish holidays I have reconfigured to produce the “Messianic Year,” but what a fitting climax it makes to the Season of Power. On that day Peter, James, and John got to see Jesus’ proclamation come true (see last week’s reading).

Jesus had been hinting that he was the Messiah but not declaring it, not even to his disciples. Just before the Transfiguration, he checked to see if they had figured it out yet, and they had. (Mk. 8:27-30) But as soon as they thought they had it, he made two more statements that contradicted what they thought they knew.

First he said that the Messiah, that is, he himself, would be rejected and killed. That made absolutely no sense to them. The Messiah with his awesome power would be overpowered by humans? It was such a preposterous idea that Peter tried to have a quiet word with Jesus and set him straight on this point. With fire in his eyes, Jesus set Peter straight. (Mk. 8:31-33)

Jesus went on to tell them that a few of them would get to see “the Kingdom of God come with great power” before they died, but that implied that most would not. (Mk. 9:1) Again, this made no sense. How could the messianic reign begin in a blaze of glory and the whole world not know about it? Very confusing.

In the midst of that confusion, Jesus took Peter, James, and John away from the others, high up on a mountain. Jesus’ power became more obvious to them than ever as his face and even his clothes seemed to radiate it. Moses and Elijah appeared. Peter could easily have been thinking, “This is it! We are going down from this mountain to install Jesus as king of Israel and the world!”

Not so fast. Moses and Elijah were talking about Jesus’ “departure” from Jerusalem instead of his arrival. (Lk. 9:30-31) What on earth could that mean? Perhaps Peter’s befuddlement was what made him suggest that they make camp on the mountain. He may have wanted Moses and Elijah to stay long enough for him to get to the bottom of this thing. But he did not get his wish or his explanation. Instead he got to hear the voice of God.

The voice brought Peter back to the same rock we need to go back to whenever we are confused, “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him.” (Lk. 9:35, NLT) Jesus is the Messiah, the God-chosen, God-anointed leader at the center of the life of the world. No matter who does not love him, God does. No matter who knocks him down, God stands him back up.

Jesus is the real Messiah even if he does not do everything in the way we expect an all-powerful Messiah would. If we get that settled in our minds and hearts, we can never be unsettled by anything that happened to the Son or anything that happens to us when we live and witness in his name.

We sign off on the right to decide or even to know how the messianic power and glory will arrive. We sign on to be part of the group that listens to him and welcomes him. Voila! His messianic reign begins in us. Like Peter, James, and John, we get the Messiah we need even though we don’t get the explanation we want, and to our surprise we find ourselves totally satisfied.

Welcome: Awesome Messiah, radiant with power and glory, we welcome you with undivided attention. We are all ears for whatever you want to tell us. We are fine with whatever you do not.

Affirmation: A lot of our wishes for explanations don’t need to come true if we hear the voice of God saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him.”



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