Hi church. It’s Friday … we’ve made it. It’s been an absolute pleasure to share my heart and God’s word with you this week. Thank you for putting up with my ramblings and I hope something of it connected with your soul to help you through this great adventure we call life.
On Monday we learnt through the faith of the Canaanite woman to be persistent in prayer, on Tuesday we learnt through the feeding of the 4 thousand to lean in to an abundance mindset and on Wednesday, we learnt to be on guard to false teaching or influences through Jesus’s warning about the Pharisees and Sadducees. Yesterday we learnt in surrender to Jesus we gain everything as Jesus forecasts his coming sacrifice for us on the cross. Today’s passage is Matthew 17:1–13, the glorious story of the Transfiguration, with a particular focus on verses 5-8.
Have you ever been so scared, fearful, anxious or stressed that you are just rooted to the spot?
Has COVID put your plans on hold?
Has a diagnosis stopped you in your tracks?
Have financial pressures forced you to stay in the same job or the same place?
Research has found that the human body deals with stress or something it finds absolutely terrifying in one of three ways; fight, flight or freeze.
You could fight an actual predator (attack or disaster) or an imagined one (social/health anxiety). Your muscles tense, you start to sweat, your heart beats faster – you act on impulse to save and preserve yourself. You fight.
You could take flight. Escape an overwhelming threat whether real or imagined. If you’re unable to fight, you need to get to safety, and fast. Your blood pressure rises and your blood sugar increases. The adrenaline you feel pushes you to flee the situation.
Chances are, you’re picturing yourself dealing with a situation in the best way by either running for safety or readying to face (fight) the problem, actually by far the most common response is that of the disciples to freeze.
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!”
When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified.
The disciples froze as they were overcome by a holy fear by the presence of the Holy One. Spurgeon puts I this way, “They were in the immediate presence of God, and listening to their Father’s voice: well might they lie and prostrate and tremble. Too clear a manifestation of God, even though it related to Jesus, would rather overpower than empower us.”
Freezing is the primal, desperate attempt to stop the threat, whether real or imagined, from spotting you. When facing danger, it’s common for our minds to slow down and assess the situation. Blood is diverted from the brain and thinking becomes incredibly difficult. It is easier to stay exactly where you are.
But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
This is what Jesus does. He reaches down to us, speaks gently to us and he reminds us that he is our saviour, he is our Messiah and he is bigger than any threat, real or imagined, that may come our way. The simplest lesson the disciples learnt and we can learn from this passage is to turn your eyes upon Jesus.
When you are laid off or lose income … turn your eyes upon Jesus
When you get that dreaded diagnosis … turn your eyes upon Jesus
When you are cowering in fear … turn your eyes upon Jesus
When all around you is shifting or crumbling . . . turn your eyes upon Jesus
in the words of the great hymn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace”
Lord Jesus, thank you that you are our saviour and bigger and more powerful than any threat, real or imagined, that may come against us. Help us to turn our eyes upon you every day and watch the hard parts of our life grow strangely dim, in the light of your glory and grace. Amen!
BIBLE READING: Matthew 17:1-13
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
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.’
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!’
When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. ‘Get up,’ he said. ‘Don’t be afraid.’ When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
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.’
The disciples asked him, ‘Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?’
Jesus replied, ‘To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognise him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.