Words of Faith 7-12-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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The passages we have studied conclude what we might call the Galilean ministry of Jesus. The calling of the disciples, the healing and teaching ministry of Jesus concludes with the questions: "Who do men say that I am? Who do YOU say that I am?" In the next movement of Luke's Gospel we see Jesus begin a journey toward the cross in Jerusalem. The journey to the cross begins with an event we call the transfiguration. Luke does not use the word transfiguration probably because of its connotation in Greek religion. But he describes the same remarkable experience as the other Gospel writers in which Peter, James and John gain a new perspective.
About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.  As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.  Two men, Moses and Elijah,  appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.  Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.  As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, "Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters--one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." (He did not know what he was saying.)
 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.  A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him."  When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.
The dictionary defines transfiguration as “a marked change in form or appearance; a change that glorifies or exalts, a striking change in character or circumstances.”
It can also be said that transfiguration is a moment when we are suddenly aware of a truth that has been there all the time. It is a moment when what you have seen all along suddenly makes sense and you see things as they really are.
Several years ago I was on a mission trip to Guatemala and I met a man named David. He was a concrete worker on the job site where we were building the second story of the mission school. Our communication was difficult because David spoke about as much English as I do Spanish. Not much.
When we were introduced I didn't know what else to say, so I said, "David is a good name in the Bible-- the name of a King!" Someone translated my comment and he answered "Si." That was about the only word I heard from him that week. David was a man of few words who quickly impressed us all with his strong back and relentless work ethic. He taught me how to mix and pour concrete and how to mix and apply stucco. But most of all he showed me a servant spirit.
I learned quickly that David lived in a tiny room at the Mission school where he was the guard and caretaker. Every night after doing construction work he cleaned all the classrooms and the kitchen at the school. I noticed that his quiet peaceful serving spirit was a strong witness of Christ in His life. Each evening, David ate dinner with our mission team. It was pretty clear that David was very poor. His clothes were always clean but they were worn and simple.
David worked all day never taking a break except briefly for lunch. After lunch he was the first one back on the job. He seemed absolutely tireless. In fact, he exhausted us. When there was a little bit of time between loads of concrete we all rested on a shovel. But David loaded wheel barrows full of dirt to fill in the places where rain had washed away the road.
I learned that David was paid about $12 a day, the standard good wage for such work. It was clear that he did not want to take advantage of that wage. One day we went to another town to work and we returned after dark to check on the site. We found that David had cleaned the entire work site after everyone was gone. The area that had been spattered with concrete and debris was so clean you could have opened a restaurant there that night.
But it wasn't until the last night of our mission that things became more clear. We had a gathering where we shared some of our impressions and memories from the week. It was a powerful and emotional time. We went around the room and the very last person that shared was David. He had been so quiet all week that I didn't really expect him to say much. He spoke through our interpreter. What he said powerfully transformed how we viewed this quiet guy.
David shared that he was not from Guatemala. He was Nicaraguan. He told us that he had never seen his homeland of Nicaragua at peace. The communists had destroyed the country of his birth. There was no work. No jobs. He could never remember good times there. But that was not why he left Nicaragua. He had come to Guatemala because God had called him to be a missionary to Cuba.
David said, "I can understand what it is like to live in Cuba under the communists because of my experiences in Nicaragua. I want to go there and share God's love. This is something I can do that others cannot do. I came to Guatemala with $3 in my pocket. I give thanks to God for everything and I know that someday God will allow me to go to Cuba."
I must admit I was stunned. I had never met anyone who wanted to get into Cuba other than for a brief visit. Most everyone wanted to get out. Here was a guy who had so very little, who left his family and was trusting God to get him to Cuba, so he could share God's love with others who have been hurt by communism.
In that moment David was... transfigured before my eyes. No, nothing visual or strange happened but I suddenly saw David for who He really was. I suddenly realized that David was so much more than a concrete worker. He was a brother in Christ but he was a missionary. He was a lot more like Jesus than I am.
That is what a transfiguration is. It is a moment when you are suddenly aware of a truth that has been there all the time. It is a moment when what you have seen all along suddenly makes sense and you see things as they really are.
Peter James and John had such an experience. They had been watching for a long time this carpenter who one day said, "Follow me..." It is interesting that some scholars say that Jesus may have been a stone cutter, the ancient equivalent of a bricklayer or concrete man. Jesus was likely a construction worker as well as a skilled craftsman. But as they watched him work and heal and teach they began to ask among themselves. "Who is this?" Even Herod began to ask, "Who is this?" And Jesus asked, "Who do you say that I am?" On this day of transfiguration it all became clear.
Transfiguration is not something we do, it is something God does. We will talk more about transfiguration but it is important to know that God will from time to time transform the way we view a person or a situation.
Lord, transform the world and people around me. Show me clearly who You are and reveal to me Your plan. Help me to see with Your eyes the people are situations that are around me. In Jesus' name.