Pliable in God’s hands

Today’s reading had me in Mark 9. Jesus’ transfiguration is always an intriguing event to read and study. Every time I read about this time up on a high mountain (where Jesus took Peter, James, and John), I always seem to be left with more questions than answers. God seems to leave so many unknowns in the account when he revealed his son to the three (his inner circle).

About the three (Peter, James, and John) — oh the things they saw and heard! Interesting to note that on three occasions in the gospels where they have exposure to Jesus apart from the other disciples.

First, in Matthew 5, it is the raising of Jairus’ daughter from death. Jesus had the three accompany Him into the room where her body lay and he restored her to life (vs. 37).

Second, in Matthew 17, He had the three accompany Him to a mountaintop where he was transfigured.

Third, on the night before His crucifixion. He asked Peter, James and John to accompany Him as He went to a secluded spot to pray for strength as He faced His hour of suffering (Matthew 26; see verse 37).

All three of these occasions touched upon the topic of death.

The first showed Jesus’ power over death as the three saw Him raise the girl; “Little girl, I say unto you, get up!” The second gives hint to the coming suffering (and death) of Jesus, and follows on the words of “tasting death”. Then finally, in the garden as Jesus faced His own death.

Intimate moments with Jesus, their Rabbi.

With the road that the Lord has had me on over the last few months (a road of suffering that has brought me closer to him), I am finding that there are new insights that God is giving me as I come to His word. Mark 9 is no different.

Jesus reveals himself to the three in a new way. He was transfigured in the presence of the three disciples. “Transfigured” (metamorphōthē) means “to be changed into another form.” For a brief time Jesus’ human body was transformed (glorified) and the disciples saw Him as He will be when He returns visibly in power and glory to establish His kingdom on earth.

It is Peter’s response that strikes me today. Peter says, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three shelters, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

No doubt Peter’s response is a default response. It seems he is drawing from tradition, the Festival of Tabernacles. His suggestion probably came from knowing what was right to do, celebrate God’s dwelling with his people (like in Leviticus 23:42-43).

Then there is verse 6, which explains why Peter comes up with this idea, “For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified.”

Peter speaks first because, well, he is Peter. The bottom line is, the three were terrified! Peter’s suggestion was from a default-mode, tradition. Peter isn’t certain how to respond, so he evokes tradition.

It’s not surprising that Peter has trouble understanding what just transpired before his eyes – who could?

It seems certain that the timing of the Transfiguration comes on the heels of Peter’s confession in Mark 8:29 (“You are the Christ”). The three disciples are given a glimpse into the glory of the Messiah.

Jesus revealed himself in a totally new way. When he does that, and really inaugurates his reign in our lives, it may be terrifying.

My prayer, as God is revealing and demonstrating his reign in my life (through loss and suffering) is that I do not lose sight of God’s glory and wonders that surround the events of current trials.

I must realize that when God acts, the results (or the way it plays out in life) can be (will be) unexpected and perhaps unexplainable.

Through trials, God is allowing me to experience him in a new way. I may suggest some default answer to commemorate this time (like Peter did), but really, I don’t know what to say, other than let God be God.

Suffering brings the lump of clay to a point of pliability, readying it to be changed and shaped by the hands of the Potter.

Lord, You breaking me out of my comfort zone does not feel good (to me). The growing pains are real. Facing loss and uncertainty is extremely hard. Letting go (of the control that I thought I had) is difficult. You are revealing your reign in ways that I honestly did not think I needed to be shown. You, my King, know best. “I submit to you” are words spoken easily, yet living out those words are anything but that. God, you are gracious with me, so patient with your pilgrim who is weary. Thank you for bringing me to a place of dire thirst. I need you, always have, and I am so much more aware of that need. Thank you for the sustaining grace that meets me daily. Thank you for shaping me with your gentle hands that uphold me.

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