THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD: “Once when Jesus was praying by himself, the disciples joined him, and he asked them. ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’  They answered, ‘John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others that one of the ancient prophets has come back to life.’ He asked them, ‘And what about you?  Who do you say that I am?’ 

Peter answered, ‘The Christ sent from God.’  Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell this to anyone.  He said, ‘The Human One must suffer many things and be rejected – by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts – and be killed and be raised on the third day.’  Jesus said to everyone, ‘All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me.  All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will save them.  What advantage do people have if they gain the whole world for themselves yet perish or lose their lives? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Human One will be ashamed of that person when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.  I assure you that some standing here won’t die before they see God’s kingdom.’

About eight days after Jesus said these things, he took Peter, John, and James, and went up on a mountain to pray.  As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes flashed white like lightning.  Two men, Moses and Elijah, were talking with him.  They were clothed with heavenly splendor and spoke about Jesus’ depature, which he would achieve in Jerusalem.  Peter and those with him were almost overcome by sleep, but they managed to stay awake and saw his glory as well as the two men with him. 

As the two men were about to leave Jesus, Peter said to him, ‘Master, it’s good that we’re here.  We should construct three shrines:  one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’ – but he didn’t know what he was saying.  Peter was still speaking when a cloud overshadowed them.  As they entered the cloud, they were overcome with awe.  Then a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, my chosen one.  Listen to him!’  Even as the voice spoke, Jesus was found alone.  They were speechless and at the time told no one what they had seen.”  THANKS BE TO GOD!

PONDERINGS: An interesting discussion arises between Jesus and his now chosen twelve.  Jesus puts to them the question, “Who do people say that I am?” 

It is interesting to me that the responses are of reincarnation – John the Baptist or Elijah or one of the other ancient prophets.  Popular opinion does not see the Messiah in Jesus – they see greatness as of folks of the past who have definitely been sent from God, but they do not entertain the possiblity of Jesus being the Christ, the Messiah, the promised one. 

Next Jesus makes the same question personal…”Who do you say that I am?” 

Peter doesn’t hesitate, and I’m sure that once he makes his statement, the others dare not offer any other thoughts.  Peter clearly states his belief that Jesus is, “The Christ sent by God”. Peter speaks the truth and Jesus has to be pleased even though he tells them not to speak to anyone about this. 

Jesus is beginning to face Jerusalem with full knowledge of all that must take place there in the near future.  Things will be very public very soon, but for now he knows the faith of  his apostles and that they are where they need to be for all that is to come.  This basic and fundamental belief will ultimately carry them onward through the storm. 

I thinks there are times in all our lives when we must answer that direct question for ourselves.  Who do “I” say that Jesus is?  It will make all the difference in who we are in our day to day living once we do.  We cannot fully say that Jesus is the Christ sent by God and live a lie that tells the world otherwise through our actions and deeds. 

Jesus assures the Twelve that not all of them will die without seeing the Kingdom of God.  I’ve often wondered what he meant.  Many have held on to the belief that the Kingdom of God meant Heaven descending to Earth – the second coming of Christ.  But all of the twelve disciples have physically died before that has globally taken place.  I wonder if Jesus is speaking of the day they would experience later – after his death and resurrection – when they were filled with the Holy Spirit as recorded in Acts.  A new understanding of “living” – a great reversal of the human condition from “me, myself and I” to shared concern for each other – putting others’ needs ahead of our own…taking up our cross of counter culture and following a higher path.  I believe that as we all pay attention and listen for the guidance of the Holy Spirit on how to truly love our neighbor, then we are able to experience the Kingdom of God every hour of every day. 

Jesus took Peter, James and John one step further in their faith journey to the top of the mountain.  Here they experienced Jesus fully transformed into His glory right before their eyes and joined by Moses and Elijah.  Peter, James and John watched and listened as Jesus, Moses and Elijah discussed Jesus’ departure that would be accomplished in Jerusalem.  Soon they are surrounded by a cloud and the voice of God saying, “This is my Son, my chosen one.  Listen to him!” 

What an experience!  Not only did they see for sure that Jesus is not reincarnated of Elijah – they are definitely two seperate people, but they see the three phases of the Jewish tradition coming together in the same plan.  Elijah was a great prophet who proclaimed boldly for God and had many amazing victories against the Baal prophets … Moses was the leader of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt as this group of peculiar people became the chosen people of God.  Now Jesus takes all that they began and sustained and brings it forward through being the Messiah – God’s plan for the salvation of everyone.  WOW! 

In this sense, Peter, James and John get a foretaste of the glory that is to come and certainly have this experience to hold on to in the storm that is to come.  They will take great leadership in the post-resurrection days ahead leading the way for people of all nations and experiences to join in the Kingdom of God. 

Praise be to our great God who leads us, sustains us and saves us for His glory.  Let me remember every minute of every day who I believe Jesus is – the Christ, the Messiah! And let me then proceed through each day in this faith and in this confidence and in this conviction, realizing that everything I say and do points folks who may be watching in a direction.  In case anyone should ever by watching, may I always be pointing in the right direction – the direction of God’s Kingdom! 

Praise be to God for His mighty and perfect plan!!!

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