Mark 9:5 - “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.”
Written by Wilson Akinwale
During my early period in the seminary sometime in 2017, I came across a story of a group of fellow seminarians who travelled to Israel and Palestine on a spiritual pilgrimage. According to one of them, Tyler Mayfield he said: “The first day and half of the trip were spent along the Israeli coast admiring Caesar’s buildings programs. We were all tolerating these sites well, but I could tell that many other seminarians had growing concern that we had not yet seen any sites connected to Jesus. Then, on that second afternoon we drove East finally toward the Galilee area and took our bus up a high mountain, Mount Arbel. After a short hike on foot to the very top of this mountain, we all froze suddenly in our tracks. There on the horizon was our first glimpse of the waters of the Sea of Galilee; there was Capernaum and the Mount of Beatitudes. Before our eyes were the very places where Jesus taught and healed. It was a profound spiritual experience for all of us; we had been preparing and reading for months about the Holy Land and now, in a moment, atop a mountain, it became alive. Eventually we had to walk away and board our bus, …to find our lodging along the sea. But our group remembered often our experience on Mount Arbel. Our collective silence and the sense of awe that filled each of us on that mountain were truly transformative for the group’s sense of community. It was a defining moment of the trip. But it was only one moment and didn’t last forever.”
Moses waited on the mountain for forty days (Exodus 24:12, 18) and God revealed to him in the appearance of His glory. God answered him. Moses had his own defining moment with God at the Mountain top. Elisha had his own defining moment with Elijah when his master was about to be taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha said, "Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit." That was his defining moment.
Now, what is your own defining moment?
I. Transfiguration Experience:
In our Gospel reading this morning, Peter, James and John had their own defining moment of their spiritual trip. Jesus thought they needed such moment to experience His presence with them in a particularly powerful way when He took them to the mountain top. Each of them might have interpreted this experience in their own different views, but the whole event is so overwhelming for excited Peter that he opens his mouth to say, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.” Peter recognizes his own defining moment; he seems to want to stick around for a while, get comfortable, settle in, and have a nice talk with Jesus, Moses and Elijah. The appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus at this point in time says a lot about who Jesus is in fulfilling what has been said about him in the Scriptures. This moment is for them to bear witness to this encounter with their own very eyes. What an emotional and spiritual experience this could have been for those disciples! And for us today as we approach the Lenten season in our own personal or corporate experience, we should also expect to have such moments, moments that are still important and meaningful but might not contain the flashy lights and sounds. And as we await for such moments we need to slow down, stop, listen, and pray. When we slow down, God can talk to us about very specific areas in our individual lives. During the Lenten Season, we are encouraged to pray, fast and wait on the Lord to reveal Himself to us in a new way. Waiting is not always easy, but waiting with God to listen to what the Spirit is saying to Church is such a rewarding moment, especially for us during this moment of the Pandemic.
II. The Invitation:
In our invitation over the next six weeks of the Lenten Season, we are encouraged to take another opportunity of time to reflect and hang on to that moment, to have that glimpse of what the future will hold for us. How we might want to live our lives moving forward in pleasing God. It that moment to try to balance our words with actions in the way God is leading us in hope of the future, even though we might not know how that future would look like.
We are encouraged to listen to what God has to tell us during this season of lent. Our spiritual lives are ones of mountains and hills and valleys and plains where there are voices speaking. But which one do we listen to? Which voice do we heed? How do we discern the right voice? The disciples heard a voice from the cloud saying to them: “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” (Mark 9:7). As Christians, which voice to we listen to? Sometimes we may have such moments in our lives when we need spiritual clarity where we need to sense God in a particularly powerful way. Or we may have moments when don’t even seem like life can even get any better, especially with the COVID-19 experience that we have been grappling with over the last one year. As followers of Christ, when we expect to get some clarities about where God is leading us but we don’t get such at the moment does not mean that God is not up to do something in our lives. I think all we need to do is to discern and listen to that “voice.” We need that moment to slow down, stop, listen and pray. Stop from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives in this noisy world and take a moment to just listen! Listen to that inner Spirit to hear what He is saying to us. And pray that God might reveal Himself more fully to us in a new way. The Psalmist also declares, “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. Our God comes and does not keep silence, before him is a devouring fire, and a mighty tempest all around him” (Psalm 50:2-3).
Let us slow down for a moment, take a deep breath and listen to what God has to say. It will be a time of refreshing for us. Perhaps it might be that moment God has been waiting for us to transform our lives in the way we could ever imagine. Jesus told His disciples not to tell anyone what they have witnessed with Him until He has been raised from the dead. He wanted them to take that moment to wait, to watch and listen so that they will understand and discern where the Spirit of God is leading them. We later see a testimony of Peter, who became a leading voice and witness for Christ in Acts. He heard God's voice on the holy mountain (Cf. 2 Peter 1:17-18). He obeyed and became a witness to God's voice.
As we approach the Lenten Season this week, let us try to get a glimpse of what this season could be, when actually it has been all along we take that moment to wait and listen to what God has to say. This is important. This might be that moment that we might not want to get holding on to things of letting go, letting go of our self will and self-righteousness. Letting go of hate, division and exclusion of all sorts that currently pervade through our world. Letting go of uncertainties and doubts that might rub us off of God's future blessings. But in earnest expectation of that moment, letting God's love radiate in our hearts to embrace the World with Christ. ‘For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’ ( 2 Corinthians 4:6).
Thanks be to God!