Pastor Nelson Bonilla: 2-11-24  “Passing The Mantle”

denrob14Events, News, News & Events, SermonsLeave a Comment

Mark 9:2-9; 2 Kings 2:1-12; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6

Today we are celebrating Transfiguration Sunday. To have a better understanding of this important event in the life of the disciples and the church, we must go back to the previous chapter. In Mark 8:27, Jesus asked his disciples an important question, “Who do the people say I am?” Among the answers he got were, they say you are John the Baptist, others say you are  Elijah and still others say you are one of the prophets. After listening to the answers, He made the question more personal to them, “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” One chapter later of this event we find the transfiguration of our Lord.  

From Luke’s version we learn that this was Jesus’ last journey to Jerusalem. His earthly ministry was coming to an end; Soon He will face the horror of the cross. Over the past 3 1/2 years, his disciples have observed him teaching, preaching, and healing. They saw Him cast out demons and raised the dead. Nevertheless, despite all this the disciples had some doubts about His mission and who he was. The crowds knew He was a great teacher, a healer, a prophet equal to any of those in the Old Testament; Peter even confessed Him as the Messiah. But they were not ready to understand or accept the fact that Jesus had to die on the cross. We know it because when Jesus explained them about his suffering and death Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

Jesus knew they were not ready to face the reality of the cross. The cross where apparently was proven – at least for three days – that Jesus was a false Messiah, one of many who came in the name of God saying they were the promised One. They were not ready to see Him on the cross where Jesus could not prove -at least for three days- his power, authority, and majesty the way they expected it, and therefore, they were not ready for the responsibility of making his kingdom visible, for the responsibility of continuing making disciples. And if they could not handle the concept of His death on the cross, Jesus could just imagine their attitude when see Him hanging of the cross.  

Jesus had to do something; Transfiguration, I believe was the way Jesus intended to prepare them for what it was ahead; Transfiguration was also Jesus’ answer to the question who do you say I am? Jesus heard from His disciples who the crowds believed he was; he heard who Peter who spoke for the rest of his disciples, who they believed he was, but his disciples needed to know Jesus’ answer too. And that is the reason -I believe- why the transfiguration took place. The Transfiguration of Jesus took place to show them who He was.  

All the gospels say that Moses and Elijah came and talked with Jesus. Only Luke says what they talked about. They talked about his departure and made sense. Maybe at this point Jesus began to have doubts about the cross. Doubts he confessed in Gethsemane; maybe at this point he started praying to his Father to “pass the cup”, and God answers Him by sending two of his great leaders to comfort and to remind his son that there was no other way, that His suffering was worth it, that “the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” As Hebrews 9:22 says. Moses and Elijah came to remind Jesus about his Father’s faithfulness “that he will not be abandon to the realm of the dead, nor will God let his faithful one see decay.” As Psalm 16:10 says.

The gospels describe Jesus’ face shinning with all His glory, and a cloud -which in Jewish imagery represents God’s presence- covering Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. These two men came to be with Jesus in the moment when he most needed support… Now, after seeing this, it should not be any doubt in Peter, James, and John’s minds. They saw the glory of God; they saw Jesus as he was before. Before “he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant; before being made in human likeness.” And to Re-affirm what they saw, once again God’s voice was heard, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” 

Jesus took three of His lead disciples, so they could see his glory on top of the mountain before they could see his humiliation on the cross, on the hill called Calvary. I am sure that in those moments when they felt discouraged because of the persecution, jail, and torture, they remembered that moment and they were able to get the strength and courage when they reminded to themselves, we saw his glory, we heard God’s voice, and that memory helped them to continue with their hard journey. Because the experience Peter, James and John had at the top of the mountain, and because they saw Jesus’ glory, not only them, but also all those they shared it with were able to endure all the suffering the Early Church’s brothers and sisters endured. Transfiguration was a forming moment in their lives.       

What is the message for us today? The Holy Spirit wants to remind us that we are here today because at one point in our journey, we also had a top of the mountain experience, a transfiguration moment when we saw the glory of God shinning on our lives. Those moments are fuel for our spiritual life; those moments are fuel that help us keep going during those moments when darkness cover our life as the darkness covered Jerusalem that Friday when Jesus was on the cross. When the enemy of our souls try to put doubt in our minds, we can tell him: “I have seen the glory of God”; when things do not go the way we planned them, and we feel as if God has left us, let us just remember those moments when “we have seen the glory of God.”

Some of the most important things in life are memories. We all know how powerful memories are. When we are down, sometimes all we need is one good memory to cheer us up and to change our day. In our walk with Jesus, we all have memories of His glory.

In the Bible one of God’s recommendations to Israel is to remember. Remember Israel when you were in Egypt, and I took you out; remember when you were slaves and I freed you. Remember when you were foreigners, and I gave you a land full of milk and honey. One -if not the most- important prayer for Israel is The Shema. Jews pray it in the morning and in the afternoon. Shema means “hear” but hear with the intention of always remembering.

Memories are an important part in our walk with Jesus too. Let us not forget all those moments of glory we have had as individual, as families and as church family and let us use them as fuel to continue going. Brothers and sisters, it is time to un-dust those memories; it is time to remember that we too -as church- have seen the glory of God; it is time to remember that Jesus was on the cross, yes, for a few hours, but His glory, His promises and commitment for us stand forever.  

Yes, it is true as church and as Christians we go thru valleys of shadows and death, then the memory of God’s glorious moments; the memories of mountain top moments are our rod and staff. Remember, always remember what God has done for you in Jesus. Psalm 30:5 says, “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” While weeping, wait in the Lord holding the memories of His glory. Amen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *