"The Transfiguration" by John Meng-Frecker

Today: Psalms 26; Mark 9:2-32; Exodus 39 & 40

Mark 9 – The Transfiguration

How Jesus must have delighted to show His three closest friends His true form — radiant, shining white, glorious. He must have enjoyed sharing a little get together with His old companions, Moses and Elijah. How I would love to know what there were talking about! Is this perhaps a glimpse of what happened during Jesus’ solitary prayer times?

Jesus was always fully God and fully man simultaneously. This is a great mystery that our dull human brains cannot completely understand. I believe Jesus chose to set aside His deity when it was appropriate. But He seems to have been able to put His Godness back on at will. I enjoy imagining what His mountaintop prayers may have been like — glorious radiant Jesus meeting with His closest saints, angels, and His Father. How sweet those times would have been for Him to commune once again with those who completely understood His identity, as it had been in heaven before He took on lowly flesh and joined us neanderthals here.

All too soon, the mountaintop retreat was over, and Jesus had to once again descend into the unbelieving crowds. Why couldn’t the disciples cast out the demon from the poor boy? Jesus made it clear that the problem was unbelief. He bemoaned, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with your? How long shall I put up with you?” (v.19) I can feel His frustration…

The people brought the boy to Jesus and said, “IF you can do anything, take pity on us and help us!”

“IF you can?” Jesus replied… “IF???”  Then he told them, “ALL things are possible for the one who believes.” (v.23)

Jesus didn’t like that little word ‘IF.’ It revealed WHO the unbelieving parties were and it wasn’t necessarily the disciples. Sometimes those disciples were pretty clueless but I don’t think the fault was theirs this time. The problem was the lack of belief in the crowds of people.

The boy’s father cried, “I do believe; help my unbelief!” I LOVE this prayer! It is a good one for us to pray often. And that is all it took. Dad wasn’t there yet in the faith department but all of the sudden he understood that he needed Jesus’ help. Dad still had a long way to go. But just that tiny shift from ‘IF’ to ‘HELP’ was all that was needed. Jesus commanded the demon to leave the boy and he was healed.

"Lifted in Praise" painting by Suzanne Accetta

Exodus 39-40

God gave the Israelites an incredibly detailed ceremony to follow. I personally love the formality. This is something I really respect about Catholic mass, something I didn’t get in my Protestant upbringing. The elaborate ceremony is a form of respect, a way to separate the service from regular life and set it apart as something sacred. God wanted the Israelites to understand that meeting with God was the greatest honor.

I understand that formality can sometimes feel stuffy and boring. I am charismatic and I also love the crazy exuberant dancing, flag waving, tongues shouting services of the church I attend. I believe there is room for both extremes (and everything in between) in the kingdom of heaven. The true ‘setting apart and making holy’ takes place in our hearts and spirits. No ceremony, formal or otherwise, can do that for us. Only God can do that in our hearts when we personally praise Him.