Sunday, March 6, 2011
We'll Understand It Better By & By--Starting Now
[A Communion Devotion based on 2 Peter 1:16-21 & Matthew 17:1-9 for Transfiguration Sunday 2011]
There were things that Peter, James, and John, as well as the other disciples, wanted to know. Jesus had been talking about things that lay in the future; some of them, such as his crucifixion and resurrection, lay in the near future while some of them, such as his coming in glory for judgment, lay in the distant future. In God’s grace, God gave Peter, James, and John access to an experience that was meant, in ways that went beyond and beneath rational explanation, to give them a “foretaste of glory divine,” a sampling, as it were, of the glory of God that belonged to Jesus and that would be seen fully in his coming resurrection and in his eventual second coming.
The disciples could not fully comprehend the resurrection of Jesus until it actually happened—but the transfiguration of Jesus gave them a start at understanding. That experience was a gift of God to enable them to grasp at least something of the glory of God and to help them to make some immediate progress in their pilgrimage of faith.
There are things that we do not understand and that we do not know. We do not have the advantage of having experienced Jesus in his resurrected state as Peter, James, and John eventually did. And we have not experienced, as they did not experience, the second coming of Jesus Christ.
We wait, therefore, for the time when we will understand it all better, when we will understand it all fully. We wait for the time when we will be in the full presence of the resurrected Christ and experience the full glory of God.
Do we ever have experiences like the one that Peter, James, and John had when they witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus and thereby caught at least a glimpse of his glory?
Sometimes we have such an experience in worship, when somehow, through the feeble and frail attempts we make to put ourselves in a position to experience God, God in grace allows us to catch a glimpse, to sense a little of the wonder, of God’s glory.
Sometimes we have such an experience in the reading of Scripture, when somehow, through our submission to the words that have been given to us by God and by God’s servants, God in grace allows us to catch a glimpse, to sense a little of the wonder, of God’s glory.
Sometimes we have such an experience in prayer, when somehow, through our conversation and communion with God, God in grace allows us to catch a glimpse, to sense a little of the wonder, of God’s glory.
Sometimes we have such an experience in other people, when somehow, through our meeting face to face and spirit to spirit with someone else who is made in the image of God and who is being formed in the image of Christ, God in grace allows us to catch a glimpse, to sense a little of the wonder, of God’s glory.
Sometimes we have such an experience on a random day at a random time in a random event or in a random moment, when, somehow, in the course of our living of our lives, God in grace allows us to catch a glimpse, to sense a little of the wonder, of God’s glory.
Sometimes we have such an experience in the Lord’s Supper, when somehow, in our eating of the bread and drinking of the cup, God in grace allows us to catch a glimpse, to sense a little of the wonder, of God’s glory.
Having an experience of God’s glory through Jesus Christ should make a difference in our lives, shouldn’t it? It is understandable and even all right if for a little while—a very little while—we sit or kneel or stand awe-struck and silent and fearful, but we cannot stay in that experience interminably for celebration soon becomes wallowing and receiving becomes passivity and rest becomes sloth.
One day, when Jesus comes back in all his glory and we experience our resurrection that his resurrection guarantees, we will be all we should be and we will know all we should know. But—given that God in God’s grace gives us glimpses of God’s glory now, we can begin to understand better now and to do more now of what we are to know and what we are to be and what we are to do.
What does that mean? Well, earlier in his letter Peter said to his readers, “You must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love” (1:5-7).
Are we coming more and more to look like that?
We can’t understand God fully now, but we also can’t glimpse the glory of God now and stay the same…