February 10, 2023
In the Rocky film series, Rocky Balboa is featured in the drama of boxing matches where the strength and skill of his opponents make him stagger on his feet. Has your faith in Jesus ever been taxed to the point of staggering, and have you wondered if you could continue to stand in your faith?
In Matthew 16, Jesus informed his disciples that the elders, chief priests, and scribes would kill him. This announcement staggered the disciples, and Peter objected to the idea. Jesus admonished him for thinking more about human concerns than God’s concerns. The announcement of Jesus’ pending death staggered the disciples. It had to put a wrinkle in their faith and confidence in Jesus.
Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a mountain six days later. On that mountain, Jesus’s appearance changed; he was transfigured. His face became as bright as the sun, and his clothing became as white as the light. For the very first time, the disciples beheld the divine glory of Jesus. He was not just a man; Jesus was God!
And if glory wasn’t enough, Moses and Elijah appeared! The three men conversed as the disciples looked on. Peter was always a man of action. He asked Jesus if he could build three “booths” to shade Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. God spoke over Peter during his offer, saying, “This is my son with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.” Overwhelmed with terror, the disciples fell to the ground. If there was ever a time that the disciples needed a tender moment, it was then.
Jesus went to his disciples, touched them, and said, “Get up. Do not be afraid.” And when they arose, they saw Jesus as they always saw him. His glory and their Hebrew heroes had disappeared. As they came down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Don’t tell anyone about the vision until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” WHOA! First, glory, then heroes, and now the news of Jesus being raised from the dead!
Peter, James, and John received a downpayment for their staggering faith. In the days that followed, all of the disciples would stagger more. Ahead of Jesus was a betrayal; agonized prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane; an arrest; a trial; beatings; mockery; cross carrying; a nerve-blaring, bloodletting, breath-stealing crucifixion; and death. The disciples saw all of this and ahead of them were the “high-five slapping” opportunities to eyewitness the resurrection and ascension of Jesus!
Let’s bring all of this down to us. Every Sunday, we ascend the mountain of public worship to join the worship of heaven. Together with all of the citizens of heaven, we worship God and behold the glorified Christ. By grace, Jesus provides the means to reveal his glory to us. What are those means? The means of grace in worship are the reading and preaching of the Word, the sacraments of Communion and Baptism, prayer, and songs that teach the truths of scripture. These are our down payments for a staggering faith. Let’s go to the mountain together on Sundays!