“I know what is right. I just don’t seem to be able to do it.” This is a phrase we have all heard countless times. I know I have said it. I am sure you have said it. I know many others who have said it. I can even quickly go to Scripture and find a version of it uttered countless times. The one coming to mind today is Micah 6 where God is speaking through the prophet saying, “I have shown you what to do…and you don’t do it!”
Last week was Transfiguration Sunday. It is where today’s verses come from, both Moses and Jesus. There was a transformation up on those mountains. Because God revealed Himself, there was a transformation. Kinda.
Transfiguration Sunday is the highpoint of the Epiphany season (remember the light bulb)! On the mountain with Moses, God spent forty days and nights with Moses, revealing Himself through the divine Law. On the mountain with Jesus, the disciples report that Jesus’ whole countenance changed—forget the white clothes…the dude shone brighter than the sun. Jesus! Moses! God revealing His majesty, splendor, and power!
Do you know what season we are in now? Lent. What is Lent? It is a season of self-discipline. It is a season of repentance. It is a season of sackcloth and ashes. But why?! We just had the season of Epiphany—we just had Transfiguration Sunday!
Let us go back to the two mountain tops. Yes, we have celebrated the glory of God’s self-revelation. But, now, if we were filming a movie, I would pan out to see the fuller story.
Israel is receiving God’s revelation—most precious, most dear—up on the mountain with Moses. Do you remember what was happening off the mountain? They were taking their eyes off God and following the brokenness of their hearts. When Moses confronted them of their wrong, do you know what they did? Aaron blamed the people (they made me!) and the people blamed Moses (you left us!).
The Original Rock (sorry Dwayne Johnson) and the Sons of Thunder were invited to the mountain top with Jesus. Here, the most amazing thing happens. Jesus is shown to be the Messiah! Inconvertible truth! But in a sense it is more…something truly supernatural is happening. These three Disciples are shown that the Messiah is divine…the Messiah is God! Revelation! God is saving us Himself by becoming…one of us…but greater than us by far! Look at Him!
And we know where the weakness is as I pan the camera out. Poor, blustery Peter. He’s always the guy who messes up a good thing. “Let’s build the tent-thing,” he says. Peter is wanting to settle down on the mountain…but Jesus is no settler. Jesus is a pioneer. Jesus is coming down off the mountain! Jesus is going to do far greater things! Get up, Peter. Follow the pioneer.
Lent follows Epiphany because just as God reveals how powerful and holy He is…we quickly come to the realization that we are not God. And it drives us to repentance. It drives us to self-discipline. It drives us to fall on our knees in fear like Peter, James, and John.
“Do not be afraid,” says Jesus. Get up. Follow me. I am in you and you are in me. I am the Resurection and I am the Life.
“I know what is right. I just don’t seem to be able to do it.” Well, James is pretty clear on this: if you know what is right and fail to do it. That’s sin. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians that: No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. And John, who was on that mount with Jesus, says: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Too often we are ready to settle in our faith. Sometimes we do it by wanting to stay on the mountain top because it is awesome and comfortable. Sometimes it is being resigned to being a hopeless sinner or blaming others on our failures. Don’t settle for that life…it isn’t where Jesus is at. He’s a pioneer and is calling us to follow him down the mountain to minister to the world. He has pioneered the victory over Sin and Death and given us his Spirit. And in the power of the Spirit we can do all the things He calls us to do.
Celebrate. Repent. Both are good depending on where you are at in this spiritual life. But don’t settle…in the power of the Holy Spirit, pioneer…blaze a holy trail. Amen.