(3/2/08. See below for 2/3/14)

Comment

On Sundays in Lent we will be looking at what our Lenten readings show us about Jesus’ relationships. This week we begin with his relationship with his heavenly Father. On the mount of transfiguration a few chosen disciples were given a glimpse of Jesus’ glory. Moses and Elijah represented the law and the prophets, by which God had revealed his nature and his will in times past. Luke tells us that they were talking with Jesus about his ‘departure’ – what was going to happen to him in Jerusalem. We can imagine that Peter and the others were too awestruck to take in what was being said; Peter is concerned simply to prolong the occasion, and to build shelters so that they can stay there! He must have known intuitively who the other two were, and the idea that Jesus was their equal must have been mind-boggling – despite the fact that a few days before he had declared that Jesus was ‘The Christ, the Son of the Living God’ (Matthew 17:16). But Jesus was not their equal – he was far above them, and the voice of God from the cloud made it clear that Jesus was the one they had to listen to, more than Moses or Elijah.

God the Father affirmed to the disciples the truth that he had affirmed to Jesus at his baptism: Jesus was his Son, and all he was and did pleased him. God’s declaration that Jesus was his Son would have reminded the disciples of Psalm 2, which everyone in those days interpreted as a prophecy about the coming Messiah. It set the seal on what Peter had declared earlier: Jesus really was the promised King. Jews in those days would not have thought that a divine Son of God could have existed – they knew there was only one God. It took some time for the early Christians to realise the truth that was later expressed in the New Testament writings – that Jesus is really and truly God as well as really and truly human. He is the Son of God in a unique way, truly one with the Father as he claimed (John 10:30).

John’s gospel gives us the greatest insight into Jesus’ relationship with his Father. The introduction in John 1:1-17 tells us straight away who Jesus was – God made flesh, one of us. Then in many places in that gospel Jesus tells us that he came from God, was sent by him, that he spoke the words God gave him, that he only did what he saw his Father doing, that the Father loved the Son and showed him all he was doing, that he and the Father were one. All this speaks of an incredibly close relationship between Father and Son. On the cross we see that relationship fractured – ‘My God, my God, why did you abandon me?’ – as the Son took onto himself the sin of the world, and sin did what it always does, separating us from God. Before he died, however, he was able to shout in victory, ‘It is finished!’ He’d fulfilled the task , and the relationship was restored – ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ More than that: his task was to restore our relationship with God, and more than restore it: to bring us too into the closest possible relationship with God the Father. Through Jesus, and through faith in him, we too are made children of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus and co-heirs with him of everything God has promised. We too can now hear God say to us, ‘You are my beloved child.’ Listen to him. 

Questions: 

1) In what ways might our relationships with our human fathers help or hinder our relationship with our heavenly Father?

2) How do you know God loves you?

 

(2/3/14)

Comment 

On the mount of transfiguration a few chosen disciples were given a glimpse of Jesus’ glory. Moses and Elijah represented the law and the prophets, by which God had revealed his nature and his will in times past. Luke tells us that they were talking with Jesus about his ‘departure’ – what was going to happen to him in Jerusalem. We can imagine that Peter and the others were too awestruck to take in what was being said; Peter is concerned simply to prolong the occasion, and to build shelters so that they can stay there!

This mountain top experience was very significant to the early church. In 2 Peter 1:16-18 we read, ‘We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye-witnesses of his majesty. For he received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.’ The testimony of eyewitnesses was very important, and this event was, in the minds of the early church, weighty evidence that Jesus really was who he claimed to be.

God the Father affirmed to the disciples the truth that he had affirmed to Jesus at his baptism: Jesus was his Son, and all he was and did pleased him. God’s declaration that Jesus was his Son would have reminded the disciples of Psalm 2, which everyone in those days interpreted as a prophecy about the coming Messiah. It set the seal on what Peter had declared earlier, that Jesus was ‘The Christ, the Son of the Living God’ (Matthew 17:16). Jesus really was the promised King – that’s probably all Peter meant by those words. Jews in those days would not have thought that a divine Son of God could have existed – they knew there was only one God. It took some time for the early Christians to realise the truth that was later expressed in the New Testament writings – that Jesus is really and truly God as well as really and truly human. He is the Son of God in a unique way, truly one with the Father as he claimed (John 10:30).

The disciples on the mountain must have seen the parallel between their experience and that of Moses. They would not compare themselves with Moses, who spent a long time there listening to God. But, like him, they heard God’s voice speaking from a cloud. The verses from 2 Peter give a sense of the impact the experience had. The cloud is described as ‘the Majestic Glory’ – they recognised it as no ordinary cloud, but the same sort that filled the tabernacle or temple on occasions, in a sense protecting them from the reality of the presence of God which would have been more than they could bear. The disciples heard just how God described Jesus, and ‘saw his majesty’; they realised as never before just how awe-inspiring Jesus really is.

They must have known intuitively who the other two were with Jesus – the greatest prophets Israel had known, two people whose departures from this world were out-of the-ordinary, for their bodies or graves were never found. The idea that Jesus was their equal must have been mind-boggling – despite the fact that a few days before Peter had made such a clear declaration. But Jesus was not just their equal – he was far above them, and the voice of God from the cloud made it clear that Jesus was the one they had to listen to, more than Moses or Elijah.

We, too, need to pay attention!

Questions 

1) Who in our lives have voices that we listen to as much or more than the voice of Jesus? How can we give Jesus priority?