Transfiguration of Jesus, Devotions for Luke 9:28-45
February 20-26, 2017
Monday, February 20, 2017–Transfiguration of Jesus
“Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray” (Luke 9:28).
Jesus was a man of prayer. Conversation with his Father was woven into the fabric of his life. Jesus also knew that prayer needed to play an important part in the lives of his disciples. Prayer was as important to the mission of being Jesus’ witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth as was spreading Jesus’ teachings and healing the sick. At their request, Jesus taught the disciples The Lord’s Prayer. He also occasionally took them with him when we prayed.
One of the lessons Jesus demonstrated to his followers was the need to draw away from the hustle and bustle of life in order to pray. Jesus went into the wilderness in order to be alone. In the story of the Transfiguration, Jesus ascended a mountain with the three disciples. These times alone with his Father enabled Jesus to face the challenges before him. Jesus went away to pray before he chose the disciples and now, before he turned his faced toward Jerusalem. It was his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane that enabled him to face the cross.
God’s invitation to pray is open to all as is God’s promise to hear our prayers. It is our choice, though, whether or not to accept God’s invitation. As followers of Jesus, prayer is important as we face the challenges of proclaiming the good news and sharing God’s love and grace by our words and actions.
Precious Lord, forgive us when we think we are too engaged in the important things in life to pray. Grant us the will and desire to draw away and converse with you. Amen.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017–Transfiguration of Jesus
“While he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white” (Luke 9:29).
Akihito swatted at the blaring alarm clock and silenced it. It was earlier than he wanted to get up for the day, but he knew what was important. Akihito pulled himself out of bed and shuffled to his study. After reading a passage of scripture and a devotional commentary, Akihito stilled his heart and mind and entered into prayer. Prayer was one of his morning activities that prepared him to face the challenges of his daily life.
The change in Jesus’ appearance is reminiscent of Moses’ glowing face after he had been with God on Mount Sinai. His dazzling form indicated the change taking place in his life. We say that prayer changes things, and it does. Prayer changes us. We may not come away from our time of prayer with glowing faces. Our times of prayer does strengthen, inspire, comfort and assure us, though. We are prepared for whatever lies ahead.
“Spirit of God descend upon our hearts; Wean them from earth, through all there pulses move; Stoop to our weaknesses, strength to us impart, And make us love you as we ought to love” Amen. (LBW #486).
Wednesday, February 22, 2017–Transfiguration of Jesus
“Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking with him … speaking of his departure” (Luke 9:30-31).
During the three years of his public ministry, Jesus told his disciples that he was the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17-20). It was also obvious that many of the prophets’ proclamations culminated in Jesus. How fitting that Moses, the great law giver, and Elijah, the greatest of the prophets, should be present at this turning point in Jesus life. It is also important to note that at the end of the transfiguration experience Jesus was alone.
There are times when we as followers of Jesus get too wrapped up in the do’s and don’ts of life. Jesus brought an end to all those do’s and don’ts. Now there is only the “do” of following Jesus; of being faithfully obedient to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We don’t need to decipher what God is going to do in the words of the prophets or the apocalyptic writings. All of that is being accomplished in the person of Jesus. As followers of Jesus, our focus is on him.
Turn our eyes away from ourselves, Lord, and turn them toward you. Enable us to see what you see and empower us to do what you want us to do. Amen.
Thursday, February 23, 2017–Transfiguration of Jesus
“Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings” (Luke 9:33).
Peter’s words reveal our human desire to mark locations where important events happen. The Eastern seaboard of the United States has hundreds of sites that commemorate events from the Revolutionary and the Civil Wars. Europe has monuments where the events of World Wars I and II are remembered and where achievements are celebrated. Modern day Israel is filled with churches and shrines that are built upon sites where God acted. There are churches where Jesus was born, where he was buried and where Jesus preached his Sermon on the Mount, to name a few. It is easy to get stuck in the past.
Peter and his companions were never able to build those structures at the site of the transfiguration. Perhaps Jesus didn’t want them to fixate on what had happened on that mountain. Instead, Jesus wanted them to take what they had experienced and use it to help them see what God was doing in the days ahead.
Memories remind us of what God has done. They also assure us that God is moving today as God has done in the past. We celebrate the past so that we can savor today and anticipate the future.
Thank you, Lord, for what you have done, are doing and will do in the days ahead. Our walk with you is an exciting adventure. Amen.
Friday, February 24, 2017–Transfiguration of Jesus
“Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him” (Luke 9:35)!
Over breakfast, Ben’s mom went over the after school itinerary of pick up points and activities. Ben wasn’t listening, though. He was busy texting friends and he missed some important information. That afternoon he wasn’t where he was supposed to be and had to find a ride home. During a business meeting, Stacey’s mind wandered to her coming ski trip. She didn’t take note of several of her supervisor’s instructions. Stacey missed an important deadline because of her inattention.
In our walks of faith, it is easy to get distracted. The squeaks and squawks of everyday life grab our attention. The worries of work and family weigh heavily upon us. The noise of technology can deafen us to everything else. It is hard to listen. In order to do so, we need to work at it.
The voice of God reminded the three disciples what needed to be done. They needed to listen to Jesus; to pay attention to him. It was vital for their ministry that lay ahead. The need has not changed for us as followers of Jesus. We too must listen to his words. They are vital to us if we are to follow Jesus’ directions and accomplish what he calls us to do.
Powerful Lord, you opened the ears of deaf men. Open our ears so that we can hear you voice and follow your leading. Amen.
Saturday, February 25, 2017–Transfiguration of Jesus
“When they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him” (Luke 9:37).
A favorite hymn of many Christians is “In the Garden.” Its lyrics recall precious times spent with God. The second verse and chorus are:
He speaks, and the sound of His voice, Is so sweet the birds hush their singing, And the melody that He gave to me, Within my heart is ringing. [Chorus:] And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there, None other has ever known.
Times like these are experiences that we do not want to leave. Yet, as followers of Jesus, it is necessary for us to do just that.
The disciples wanted to stay on the mountain and build three monuments to their experience. Jesus didn’t let them do that, though. Jesus led them back down the mountain into the valley and to the awaiting crowds. Certainly we should cherish our times spent in communion with the Lord. They are not, however, meant to be the goal of our lives. These experiences are merely a means to an end. The time we spend with the Lord equips us to serve and to answer our call to love others as God has loved us.
Lord, we love these mountaintop experiences with you. Now that we are refreshed and renewed, leed us into the world and use us to serve others and honor you. Amen.
Sunday, February 26, 2017–Transfiguration of Jesus
“Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father” (Luke 9:43).
Life in the valley can be discouraging. Jesus comes down from the mountain and immediately faces the forces of evil and the morass of unbelief. Jesus had been teaching and healing for about three years. Yet, the people, including his disciples, had not fully grasped what he was saying. In frustration, Jesus groans, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you?”
Though it is not listed among the official fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), tenacity is a necessary gift for followers of Jesus. The visions that God gives us take a long time and a lot of effort to become a reality. The people with whom we share God’s love and grace are no less stubborn and hard hearted than we are. The achievements of the past sometimes succumb to the forces of today.
Jesus didn’t give up. He continued his ministry to the cross. When he died, only a few were left to stand near him. As followers of Jesus, we don’t give up either. We continue to be faithfully obedient to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, trusting that God will accomplish God’s purpose in us and through us.
“Shine, Jesus, shine/ Fill this land with the Father’s glory/ Blaze, Spirit, blaze,/ Set our hearts on fire/Flow, river, flow/ Flood the nations with grace and mercy/ Send forth Your Word, Lord/ And let there be light.” (“Shine Jesus Shine” by Graham Kendrick)