What do you think of when you hear the word 'glory'? What about the phrase 'the cross'? Those concepts don't seem to fit together, but as we look at the event called 'The Transfiguration of Jesus,' we see that they do. Jesus took Peter, James, and John with Him up a high mountain. "There He was transfigured before them." The concealed majesty of the Son of God and His divine nature were revealed. This indescribable sight is described this way: "His face shone like the sun" and "His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them." (Matthew 17, Mark 9) Elijah and Moses appeared, talking with Jesus "about His departure, which He was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem." (Luke 9) Think of that – in all His glory, Jesus is discussing His death on the cross! But Peter only saw the glory of the moment; he didn’t want to face Jesus’ death. What he didn’t yet understand was that if he didn’t see Jesus’ death, he would never truly see Jesus’ glory. This is why Jesus told Peter, James, and John not to say anything about this event until after He had risen from the dead.
Do we, like Peter, sometimes get confused about Jesus’ glory? Does our idea of glory look for Him to do things that seem greater to us than suffering and dying on a cross? How often do we look past the message of the cross because we want to see a different kind of 'glory,' one that only makes our lives better here and now? Don’t miss this glory: The Son of God who revealed His majesty on that mountain is the same one who suffered and died, bearing our sin, absorbing God’s wrath against our sin. This is ASTONISHING GLORY! And it is the glory of God to come to us with this good news and the promise of eternal life in Jesus – an everlasting glory which will never pass away like that moment on the mountain.
Come visit us at CHRIST OUR REDEEMER for more of this message of God's grace!
'You’ll get out of it what you put into it.' You’ve probably heard this adage from your parents, teachers, and others. It’s not what you'd call a profound observation, but it’s true, isn’t it? It applies to school, work, exercise, relationships, and all of life. It’s just as true – and even more important – in your relationship with God. Jesus says, "Consider carefully what you hear. With the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Mark 4:24) What measure are you using to grow your relationship with God? Are you spending personal time with God in His Word, gathering with others to hear His Word in a worship service, receiving your Savior’s pledge of forgiveness in the Lord’s Supper, and studying His Word with others? Or are you distracted by misguided priorities, laziness, and excuses? ...If you ever feel like you aren’t getting much out of your faith, could it be that you aren’t putting much into it?
Jesus adds an incredible promise as you CAREFULLY CONSIDER WHAT YOU HEAR: "Whoever has will be given more." (Mark 4:25) Through faith in Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sins, rescue from damnation, peace with God, and eternal life in heaven are yours. Yet God gives you even MORE as you heed His Word – more understanding and appreciation and joy in these blessings. But Jesus also adds a sobering warning: "Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him." (Mark 4:25) If you think you can hold on to your faith without putting much into it, you are fooling yourself. Indifference to growing in God’s grace only leads to deafness. This is as serious as it sounds. But it’s also an expression of God’s mercy, warning you to turn you back to Him with a listening ear. And when you do, what do you find? More and more of God’s undeserved love and unfailing forgiveness! ...Please, listen carefully.
A standard or banner was used by kings and diplomats and armies to signify a place of gathering. A banner lifted high would draw a crowd. The Bible calls Jesus a banner for all nations. Jesus spoke of His death in this way, saying, "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself." (John 12:32) Hundreds of years earlier, Isaiah had prophesied: "In that day, the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples." (Isaiah 11:10) That "Root of Jesse" is Jesus; He came from the house and line of David, whose father was Jesse. "That day" has come; Jesus died for the sins of the world and rose again from the dead. That "banner" still stands today; let the people come!
What is it about Jesus that people from around the world would be drawn to Him? "The nations will rally to Him, and His place of rest will be glorious." (Isaiah 11:10) Everyone wants this rest, this peace. Only in Jesus do we find it. Through His death and resurrection, He established peace between us and God, forgiving us all of our sins, releasing us from our guilt, changing our status from enemies of God to children of God. So let the people come, for JESUS IS A BANNER OF PEACE FOR ALL PEOPLE. You who are reading this, come, gather around this banner, and find your place of rest with Jesus.
When Christ came into the world, He said:
"Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You prepared for me…
Then I said, 'Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll –
I have come to do Your will, O God.' "
Have you ever tried to get a feel for a book by reading only the first chapter and the last chapter? Maybe you’ve tried to get away with that for an assignment or a test, but odds are it didn’t turn out that well. Such an approach leaves you with a big gap in your understanding of the story. Everything in the middle adds significance and meaning to both the beginning and the end of the story. Without that context, the beginning and the end can seem like two disconnected events which have little to do with each other.
When you think of Jesus in the manger, do you look ahead to Jesus on the cross? And when you think of Jesus on the cross, do you look back to Jesus in the manger? If you know nothing more about Jesus than His birth and His death, those may seem like two disconnected events which have little to do with each other. But the life He lived and why He lived it reveals the significance of both His birth and His death.
God instituted the Sabbath for our good, calling us to set aside time each week for spiritual rest and renewal with Him through His Word. But the religious leaders of Jesus’ day defined the Sabbath with man-made regulations that clouded the purpose of the Sabbath. Jesus came to give us the ultimate rest to which the Sabbath points – forgiveness and eternal life – but they took issue with Him because He and His disciples broke their man-made laws. He corrects them, saying, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." (Mark 2:23-28)
This is a matter of who is the authority. The religious leaders set themselves up as the authorities with their man-made laws, and in doing so they rejected the authority of Jesus. Who is the authority in your life? Who rules over what you say and do, how you think and form opinions? Do you accept Jesus’ authority…except for when it doesn’t fit your view of life? Do you set yourself up as the authority and redefine God’s commands with your own notions of right and wrong? We will never win when we go against Jesus and His Word. But here is what is truly overwhelming: Jesus used His authority to lay down His life for us to save us from our sins! This is the reason God made the Sabbath for us, that we might hear and believe this truth and find our rest in Him. Don’t neglect God’s Sabbath command, given for our good, and don’t despise the Lord of the Sabbath. Listen to Jesus’ authority in His Word: "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25) LISTEN TO THE LORD OF THE SABBATH.
Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church
Daniel is the Staff Minister at Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, El Paso TX.