Processing Life Events

9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

10 The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”

11 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist. Matthew 17:9-13

The disciples asked Jesus a curious question after He told them not to tell anyone about what happened on the mountain. I imagine that their minds were scrambling to process what had just happened. Given that the three disciples had just seen Elijah and Moses on the mountain top, they asked a question that was probably going through their heads at the time.

Jesus brought the topic back to the present, to what was going to happen soon to Him and similarly what had already happened to John the Baptist.

When people have traumatic events in their lives, they need time to process it. The more traumatic the event is, the more time needed to process it.

For example, my brother called me three years ago to tell me he had Stage 4 brain and lung cancer. The doctors told him he had only months to live. After I flew out to visit him a couple of times, I steeled myself against the phone call I would eventually receive.

When the call finally came, it was a shock to my system because of the finality of death. Even though I knew the call would come, I couldn’t prepare in advance for the actual loss of life. I needed time to process it, and by the time I made it to the memorial service a few days later, I was still processing it, but at least I could think straight.

This type of shock happens in a divorce, job loss, getting a new job, getting married, bankruptcy, lawsuits, injury, death, child moving away, and other various life events. People need time to process what happens. Sometimes they are not able to think straight until the initial shock has worn off.

Someone in your circle of influence is probably experiencing one of these life events. Just as The Three needed time to process their mountain top experience, so people need space and time to deal with their events.

Let them know you are praying for them, and be there for them if they need you.

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Listen to Him

4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. Matthew 17:4-8

Without question Peter was the overachiever in the group. Instead of just basking in the moment, he wanted the moment to live a lot longer than was necessary. Certainly Moses and Elijah didn’t want to hang around on Earth because they knew what awaited them. For them it was a bit of a glimpse into what they left behind long ago.

God the Father bellowed at them through the clouds. He was not visible because no one has ever seen the Father except the Son. The voice must have been unmistakable because they all heard it and fell to the ground.

God the Father’s words to The Three were interesting, weren’t they? He affirmed the Son and commanded them (and by extension those who read this) to listen to the Son.

God emphasized the need to listen to Jesus, which was reminiscent of what Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 18:15: “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.”

We would do well to heed God’s words about His Son.

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Mountain Top Experiences for All

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Matthew 17:1-3

Take a moment to envision what this looked like. Three disciples plus Jesus ascended a high mountain.

What was the reason Jesus gave for needing to climb the mountain? No one knows.

Then Jesus transforms right in front of them. I can imagine their mouths were wide open gawking at what was happening right in front of them.

Then two historical figures from the Old Testament appear. The disciples must have known who they were.

Everything about this scenario must have been mesmerizing for them.

What does one say to Elijah or Moses? They already had long conversations with the Messiah Himself, but Moses and Elijah too?

I’m sure they were on sensory overload at this point.

This passage is where we get the phrase “mountain top experience” an event or experience that occurs occasionally in our lives but is remembered long after the thrill and excitement fade away. When we’re new to the faith, we want all of life to be like that experience but soon realize that once in a great while is more than enough to satisfy our hunger and thirst for a glimpse of the Savior. It’s probably all we can handle.

We’ve all had those experiences but couldn’t possibly live there. We have bills, family, commitments, and jobs to take care of. Unfortunately, we “come down” from those highs and crash into reality.

The vast majority of our time on plant Earth will not be those spiritual highs, and I’m okay with that.

We will one day see Jesus face to face and experience Him up close and personal for a long long time.

For now, though, we have to settle for the experiences we have, making the most of every opportunity. Ephesians 5:16

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Service With a Smile

27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

28 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:27-28

Throughout the last half of this chapter, Jesus was making it crystal clear the difference between those who sacrifice for the sake of Christ and those who live for themselves.

Their eternal destination is not based on what they’ve done but on their belief in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. If it were works related, we’d all be in serious trouble.

The intriguing part of the equation is that when we serve others, we are serving Christ. For in as much as we’ve done it unto the least of these, we’ve done it unto Him. Matthew 25:40

Today we will have opportunities to serve others in a variety of ways.

Remembering who we are ultimately serving makes a huge difference in how we serve.

It motivates us to want to serve more…and complain less.

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Was It Worth It?

26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Matthew 16:26

Jesus is speaking rhetorically here. Those are two questions for the ages.

So what happens if you are the richest, most powerful person in the world? Then what?

What if you have everything you need in life and require nothing else, then what?

We see the second question alive and well in politics and Hollywood. People will make risky, promiscuous trade-offs to get where they want. Actually, that kind of stuff happens in the “real” world too but more so it seems in politics and the entertainment industry. People just crave the power, wealth, and fame that those two “industries” give them.

Many will do far less for even lesser gains.

In the context in which Jesus asked these questions, He was referring to losing yourself and counting the cost of discipleship.

Rather than gaining what the world offers, giving ourselves over to Christ and becoming His servant is the place we want to be in.

We certainly can learn from those overachievers who will stop at nothing to get what they want in whatever industry they’re in. We learn from their bad example. Unfortunately, we also learn after the adoring crowds have faded and political underclass is finished with that person as well.

The late Billy Graham preached from this often and it always ended the same. “If you gained the whole world, was it worth it?”

Invariably the answer is no because none of it satisfies the soul, nor was it ever intended to do so.

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