Sunday, February 26, 2006

Altered Perceptions

Imagine your best mate approaches you with the idea of forming a band... all well and good. You start jamming in different friend's garages and gradually learn the music your best mate has written for you. You might even be bold enough to tell your friend he is the most amazing musician you have ever heard.

Then one day, your friend takes you to an abandoned local music hall for a band practice... it's not often you get to go somewhere away from all the hustle and bustle to practice, so you are grateful for the chance to perform undisturbed. You look over to your friend who is standing by the microphone. All of a sudden, he begins glowing in bright neon colours! Then in a bright flash, Mozart and Hendrix appear either side of him and share a few ideas. You are so startled you say the first thing that comes into your mind. "Woah, this is awesome! Let's get a keyboard and guitar amped up... this will be the best jam session ever!"

A voice booms over the PA system telling you that your friend is indeed the best musician in the world ever... and then as quick as a flash, it is all over.

Weird story huh? If you hadn't guessed already, I didn't make it up... I took it from the Bible. It's the story of the Transfiguration set in a modern context. We looked at the Transfiguration at church this morning (Mark 9:2-13), and I wanted to share something that occurred to me.

There are several theologically important reasons why Moses and Elijah show up. God gave the Law to Moses on Mt Sinai... and Elijah was regarded as the greatest of the Israelite prophets. They are the two biblical historical figures most closely associated with the subjects of Law and Prophecy. They appear because Jesus has come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. They also appear because the Law states that two independent witnesses in agreement, testify to the truth. Amazing!

I want to look at it another way though. As soon as the voice from heaven validates Jesus testimony... whoosh - Moses and Elijah vanish. Why?

I believe God was making a point to the disciples and to us. For centuries, the jews had looked to the Law and prophecy as their primary source of guidance. When God spoke from heaven, he said the words:
"This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!"
It is clear to me, that not only is Jesus the fulfillment of Law and Prophecy... he is also the "Rosetta Stone" - the key to understanding it in it's proper context. If you are the wisest academic and you limit yourself to your own understanding - you will fall short of the richness of what God speaks to every one of us. That's why Moses and Elijah vanish. In effect, God is saying "So, you want to understand the Law and the Prophets? Look at them through my Son.... listen to Him."

Shortly after the resurrection, two disciples were walking on the road to Emmaus, discussing all that had happened. They had not seen Jesus... but had been given a lot to think about:

"As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?"
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?"
"What things?" he asked.
"About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see."

He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. " Luke 24:15-27

How amazing that must have been for them. That encounter with Jesus opened their eyes properly. If it had not happened, they would have walked on to Emmaus and missed all the excitement in Jerusalem!

That is what Jesus does!

He turns us around completely in our way of thinking. By His Spirit, He enables to look at everything scriptural or spiritual in the proper context. He is our constant. He is our North Star, our moral and spiritual compass. I can't believe I almost quoted Shakespeare there!!!!!! Sorry people! The following is what Paul tells us the Spirit of God does for us:

"For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment:
"For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:11-16

The Holy Spirit is like the Universal Translator in Star Trek. The Spirit enables us to understand the things of God... that from a worldy perspective would seem completely alien to us.

If you want to understand the scriptures, ask for the Holy Spirit. Let Christ's wisdom guide you.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5,6)

He is God's Son... the One whom God loves and has chosen - listen to Him!


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