Scripture of the Day            February 14, 2021

2 Corinthians 4:3-4

3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are on the road to destruction. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of those who don’t have faith so they couldn’t see the light of the gospel that reveals Christ’s glory. Christ is the image of God.
6 God said that light should shine out of the darkness. He is the same one who shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

Mark 9:2-9

Jesus transformed
2 Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and brought them to the top of a very high mountain where they were alone. He was transformed in front of them, 3 and his clothes were amazingly bright, brighter than if they had been bleached white. 4 Elijah and Moses appeared and were talking with Jesus. 5 Peter reacted to all of this by saying to Jesus, “Rabbi, it’s good that we’re here. Let’s make three shrines—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He said this because he didn’t know how to respond, for the three of them were terrified.
7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice spoke from the cloud, “This is my Son, whom I dearly love. Listen to him!” 8 Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them not to tell anyone what they had seen until after the Human One had risen from the dead.

Reflection:

I.      There’s a passage in the Gospel of John where John the Baptist is standing with two of his disciples.  He sees Jesus and says to his disciples, “Look!  The Lamb of God!”  The two disciples leave John and follow Jesus.  Jesus turns around and asks them, “What are you looking for?”  They say, “Rabbi, where are you staying.”  Jesus says, “Come and see.”
        The spiritual life is all about seeing. “COME AND SEE,” Jesus said.

II.     A few weeks ago we heard Jesus say, after he was baptized, “Here comes the kingdom of Heaven!  Change your hearts and lives and believe in the gospel!”
        I wonder what people said when Jesus said that?  Did they say, “Where is the Kingdom of Heaven?  I don’t see it…. He said ‘Here it comes!’ I don’t see it!” 
        WHEN WE LOOK AT JESUS — who do we see?

III.    I have a friend, Brad, from eighth grade and we still talk to each other every week or so.  He stood right here as my best man when Janet and I were married almost 20 years ago.   He doesn’t believe in Jesus or God, but he admires much of what Jesus taught.  Brad has another friend who also goes back to those days when we lived in Bangkok, Thailand.  This other friend is also a Christian.  And Brad asks both of us a lot of questions about Jesus and what we believe, because he’s always reading and studying and thinking.   
        Recently he told me, “I’m kind of confused because when I talk to you about Jesus, and I talk to Mike about Jesus — it’s like the two of you are talking about someone else.  You both say it’s Jesus — but it doesn’t sound like the same person.  You say Jesus taught about love and he healed and he gave food to everyone and cast out their demons. 
        But when I ask Mike about Jesus — he talks more about hell than love. He tells me what I need to do to be saved and if I don’t accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I’ll go to hell. Mike doesn’t talk about love — it’s mostly about hell.   So I’m confused — is Christianity about loving one another, or is it an insurance policy for staying out of hell.”

IV.     Isn’t that great!  Two different Jesus’!  But there’s more!  I’ve been reading about another version of Christianity that people call “Christian nationalism.”  You could see it on January 6th when the Capitol Building was being overrun by the rioters.  When the mob broke into the Senate chamber, one of the leaders cried out:  “Jesus Christ, we invoke your name!”   
        “Christian nationalism”  is a version of Christianity, COMPOSED MOSTLY OF WHITE ADULTS, who believe the U.S. should be a “Christian” country, with biblical teachings guiding every aspect of civic life.  These are Christians frightened about losing the culture wars over abortion rights, LGBTQ equality, and gender norms.  At the Capitol riot they carried large wooden crosses, Bibles, and Jesus Flags.  Christian nationalists want judges who will impose their worldview on the law. 
        One of the U.S. senators behind this worldview is Josh Hawley of Missouri, who has said his mission is to “transform our society to reflect the gospel truth and lordship of Jesus Christ.”  But how do you transform society?  By violent insurrection?  By love?

V.       “Come and see,”  Jesus said.  Wow — there are so many ways of seeing!    Why would someone invoke Jesus’ name at a violent, bloody, anger-fueled riot?   But Jesus was the healer — he taught peace!
        Let us COME to the gospel again, and SEE Jesus ONE MORE TIME.  HE’S THE ONE WHO SAYS: 

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

        This is the Jesus who was transfigured that day on the mountain —Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. and he calls us today so that our hearts and lives may be transfigured with him by the power of his love.