"For now we see as if through a flawed pane of glass..." (I Corinthians 13:12)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Removing All Doubt


June 17, 2016

My 2016 Ongoing Journey: Exploring Matthew to discover what following Jesus and becoming more like him would look like.

Matthew 17:1-13 ~ The story of the Transfiguration is a story and a follow-up. Today I’ll look at the story (verses 1-13), and will deal with the follow-up in my next blog.

This is another of those biblical stories that challenges postmodern and post-scientific thinking. It describes an event that’s “outside the box”—unless one looks at it as metaphor.

One must take care lest metaphor become a crutch to explain everything one can’t put in a test tube, quantify and verify. On the other hand, metaphor and provable, observable fact are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

One can find deeper meaning sometimes by attaching metaphoric understanding even to something that’s tangible and concrete; therefore, metaphor offers a good meeting place for both those who insist that everything in the Bible is literal fact, and those who don’t. And if you believe everything in the Bible is literal fact and don’t want to allow anyone else any other understanding, you probably won’t be reading my blogs, anyway; and, I can honor that choice.

I’m just not going to deal with whether this story “actually happened” exactly and literally the way it is described. I accept it as part of divinely inspired Scripture, and my only concern is how it helps me “to see him more clearly, love him more dearly, follow him more nearly, day by day”.[1]

Jesus’ transfiguration relates him to Moses, whose face also radiated God’s glory when he came down from the mountain after receiving what is now known as the “Ten Commandments”. Moses: the law-giver. Matthew wants that connection to be clear.

And there’s Elijah, the one the prophets said would announce the coming of Messiah. Well, here it is!

All three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) include this story. It must have been important to those first century Christians! Jesus is the one!

When we back away and get the broader view, we see that all the prophecies and promises, beginning with the original covenant between God and Abram, are fulfilled and completed in Jesus—past, present and future. Nothing remains to be done. As Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished.”

So, I need no further rationale or justification to follow Jesus. He is the one. But, making that profession of faith is not all there is to it. There is a follow-up! Watch for it in verses 14-21!

That's the way it looks through the flawed glass that is my world view.

Together in the Walk,

Jim



[1] From “Godspell,” a musical by Stephen Schwartz, 1971.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Seeing the Kingdom


June 15, 2016

My 2016 Ongoing Journey: Exploring Matthew to discover what following Jesus and becoming more like him would look like.

Matthew 16:24-28  ~ Like real estate’s value standard, “Location, location, location,” the key to understanding many texts of Scripture is “context, context, context.” Three weeks ago, when I wrote my last blog, the context was established for this text.
Peter had made his “good confession,” but almost immediately then scolded Jesus for not being “the Christ” in the same way Peter expected. Jesus response was a stinging rebuke: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Ouch!

Here was my response: “I have acknowledged Jesus as my Savior; but, am I a stumbling block to him? Am I trying to force Jesus into my mold—to direct where he leads me; confirm the ‘spiritual’ choices I’ve already made and to which I’m already committed?”

Without that context the text today loses some of its power. Denial of self in order to follow Jesus includes letting go, if necessary, even our most cherished beliefs and understandings. The prevailing mindset must be, “It’s not about me nor about my beliefs; it’s about Jesus.”

Jesus concludes the passage, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” How many of them missed it because they could not let go of their already held expectations? Will I miss it for the same reason? Have I missed it already?

That's the way it looks through the flawed glass that is my world view.

Together in the Walk,
Jim