John T. Willis

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Being Disciples; the Transfiguration of Jesus--Luke 9:22-36

Continuing the answer or response to Herod's question in Luke 9:9: "Who is this about whom I hear such things?", Luke emphasizes the nature of being a disciple and the account of the transfiguration, related in Luke 9:22-36. This falls naturally into two paragraphs.

I. The Nature of Being a Disciple. Luke 9:22-27.
a. First, Jesus sets the example that all must follow, which falls into FOUR events: 1. Undergo great suffering. 2. Be rejected by religious leaders. 3. Be killed. 4. Be raised on the third day. Just as John the Baptist persecuted and killed religious leaders (Luke 3:1-20; 9:7-9). All true disciples of Jesus must experience similar events. See 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. 9:22.
b. Then, Jesus outlines FIVE characteristics of loyalty to God through Jesus Christ.
1. Deny yourself, and take up your cross daily, and follow Jesus. One who is self-centered cannot be a follower or disciple of God. Simon of Cyrene set the example of being ready to be martyred, suffer the opposition and hostility of ungodly people in every day life. See Luke 23:26. 9:23.
2. Lose your life if you wish to save it. Profit or gain of wealth, business success, fame, notoriety ALL are of no value in the eyes of God or for the nature and future of anyone's life. 9:24.
3. If anyone COULD gain THE WHOLE WORLD, this would be of no value at all. See Luke 12:16-21. 9:25.
4. Strong, persuasive, compelling people demand that we say and do things which are ungodly. When we yield to this kind of pressure, we are ashamed of God and his words. 9:26.
5. God's people see the kingdom of God before they taste death. The kingdom of God is God's rule in the lives of human beings. If our eyes are open, we can see and experience this reality. 9:17.

II. The Transfiguration of Jesus. Luke 9:28-36.
a. Compare this account with Mark 9:2-8. There is a special connection between Luke 9:28-36 about the transfiguration of Jesus and the account of the baptism of Jesus in Luke 3:19-20.
b. Approximately 8 days after Jesus' five sayings about discipleship [hence, approximately a week later], Jesus took Peter, James and John upon the mountain to pray. The Bible does not tell us which mountain this means. The important thing is that Jesus went upon this mountain TO PRAY. Every time Jesus does something significant, first he prays. 9:28.
c. While Jesus was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly Jesus saw Moses God's great lawgiver and Elijah one of God's prophets, and the three of them were surrounded by glory and they talked about the impending departure of Jesus to go to Jerusalem to be arrested, persecuted, and crucified. 9:29-31.
d. This event occurred deep in the night, and Peter, James, and John became very sleep, but they managed to stay awake to see Jesus' glory. 9:32.
e. Just as Moses and Elijah were leaving, Peter said to Jesus: It is good for us to be here. Then he proposed that they build three tents or booths for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, not knowing what Peter was saying. The background seems to be the Feast of Booths. 9:33.
f. While Peter was speaking, a cloud overshadowed all who were there; Peter, James, and John were terrified. Such a cloud was an instrument of God's presence and glory like the cloud hanging over the tabernacle in the wilderness--see Exodus
16:10; 19:9; 24:15-18; etc. 9:34.
g. Then a VOICE [that is, God] came from the cloud: "This is my Son, my Chosen; Listen to him!" See 2 Peter 1:16-18. God the Father commands all disciples of Jesus to LISTEN TO JESUS. Moses and Elijah were faithful messengers, but Jesus' message incorporates all their messages and more. 9:35.
h. Suddenly, Jesus was all alone. Moses and Elijah had left. Peter, James, and John kept silent and told no one any of the things they had seen. 9:36.

There are powerful, moving truths in these texts. Pay attention to them carefully, and follow Jesus.

Share YOUR questions and concerns and thoughts and experiences with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I know the plans I have for you--5

God's VISION naturally grows out of his NATURE. God HIMSELF clearly describes his nature. This is very simple, and falls into two large categories. God revealed himself to Moses on Mount Sinai when he gave Moses the Ten Commandments. This appears in Exodus 34:6-7:

"The Lord [Yahweh] passed before him [Moses], and proclaimed,
The Lord, the Lord,
a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation,
forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,

by no means clearing the guilty,
but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children
and the children's children
to the third and the fourth generation."

Let us briefly consider each phases of Yahweh's nature.

I. Yahweh is merciful.
a. Mercy and grace are synonyms. They convey the idea that we deserve severe punishment because of our sins, but Yahweh is gracious and merciful and overlooks our sins. Psalms 130:3-4 beautifully communicates Yahweh's nature here:
"If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be feared [revered]."
b. Yahweh is slow to anger. When we persist in sin, naturally Yahweh becomes angry because we rebel against him, we oppose our creator. But Yahweh does not retaliate immediately. Rather, he tries many other ways to bring us to repentance. ONLY when we persist in sin, Yahweh then unleashes his anger and punishes us. A great text to emphasize this concept is Amos 4:6-13. FIVE times, Yahweh declares he tried drought, plague, pestilence, etc., "yet you did not return unto me, says the Lord." ONLY then, Yahweh declared: "Therefore, thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do to this to you, prepare to meet your God [for punishment], O Israel!"
c. Yahweh is abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, which are synonyms. Yahweh is very consistent. His love and faithfulness are tenacious. See Psalms
89:1-4; 117:1-2.
d. Yahweh forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin. By nature, Yahweh has always forgiven human beings of their sins. He is a forgiving God. He set the example that we also should forgive others who sin against us. Jesus taught us to think and pray in the moving prayer for all disciples of God through Jesus Christ. Matthew 6:12.

II. Yahweh is a God who disciplines and punishes.
a. When we persist in sin, Yahweh eventually punishes us and refines us and disciplines us. Romans 2:1-11 clearly makes the distinction between those to faithfully attempt to repent and serve God and those who establish hardened hearts to continually rebel against and oppose God.
b. When we sin, God punishes us as sinners, but also our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Sin is an epidemic, and affects people beyond the actual sinners. This is a reality of life. See Ezekiel 18.

God's VISION is clear, simple, and eternal. Let us daily pay attention to his nature.

Share YOUR ideas and anxieties and concerns and future with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis