Grow Deep: It's Not What You Think Edition, Week 6

Week 6: February 11-13

The Cross

 "Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them.”  - Mark 9:2

This week begins with the Transformation and leads to Lent and the cross. According to the dictionary, a transfiguration is a “radical transformation of figure or appearance; metamorphosis.” When I read that definition, I immediately thought of a butterfly.

The metamorphosis of a butterfly is a slow, gradual process. You can watch over time and see the cocoon begin to darken and split open, gradually taking the form of a butterfly. It is quite an amazing process. If we think about Jesus’ transfiguration in terms of the metamorphosis of a butterfly, it is not what you might think. The butterfly’s transfiguration is a natural part of its life cycle … amazing to watch, but very predictable. In contrast, the transfiguration of Jesus was a total surprise to the three disciples who were with Him.

Some years ago I watched a TV show called Extreme Makeover. It was amazing to see what doctors were able to do to transfigure people with physical challenges and improve their quality of life. There was real joy in the end. Yet, when we read the account of Jesus’ transfiguration, this TV show and others like it do not paint a picture for us of what happened on that mountain. The disciples’ reaction was not one of joy; they were stunned and afraid. Peter responded by suggesting that three shelters be built for Elijah, Moses and Jesus. Can’t you just hear Jesus responding, “Oh, Peter, this is not what you think?”

Jesus had given them a glimpse of His glory. The very Son of God in all His splendor and majesty stood before them. And, if that was not spectacular enough, a cloud surrounded them, and they heard the voice of God the Father saying, “This is My Son; listen to Him.” That was a difficult assignment right then as they could not really understand the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus that lay ahead. They believed Jesus was the Son of God, but they did not understand that His Sonship had to lead to His death on a cross. They could not really understand the raw truth: He willingly, lovingly, covered His glory while He was on earth so that He could take on human form and take the punishment for our sins.

 

Sunday, February 11

Read: Mark 9:2-13

The placement of this story in the Gospel of Mark tells us much about the Transfiguration. Jesus had just told His disciples that some of them would see when the Kingdom of God comes with power. Less than a week later, His three closest disciples go up on a mountain and see Him in a glorious transfigured form … a glimpse of the future glory that awaits those of us who believe in Him as Lord and Savior.

Reflect: Why is the Transfiguration significant? What was the disciples’ reaction when they saw Jesus in His glorified body? What command does God give to these three disciples? How does it apply to us today?

For the FamilyWhat does the word transfigure mean? How did Jesus change? Will we change when we go to heaven? How will we change?

 

Monday, February 12

Read: Mark 8:31-9:1

Jesus had a message for the crowd and His disciples. He would suffer and die, but on the third day He would rise from the dead. Peter had trouble with that message; it just didn’t fit his idea of the Messiah, so he begins to object. Jesus soundly corrects Peter and tells him, “You do not have in mind the things of God.” He follows up by telling His disciples and us how we might keep “the things of God” in our minds, which include taking up our crosses and following Him.

Reflect: What are some specific things that help us today to keep “the things of God” in our minds? In our communities today, what situations might cause us to act in a way that makes it seem we are ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? How can we live unashamed?

For the FamilyPeer pressure is something that all of us face—no matter our age—at school or on the job, in our family and friends. What are some ways to fight against the pressure of the world to hide our connection to Jesus?

 

Tuesday, February 13

Read: Hebrews 12:1-2

The writer of Hebrews gives us a picture of the Christian faith as a “marathon” commitment to Christ. He encourages his readers by reminding them that Jesus’ focus was on the cross. That is the focus of the great “cloud of witnesses” to God’s faithfulness that have gone before. They are examples of others who trusted the cross and “stayed” the course of faith themselves.

Reflect: How can the witness of other believers help us focus on the cross and live our lives in a God-pleasing way? (To get us started, Hebrews 11 names people in Scripture such as Abraham, Jacob, and Moses. Other to consider might be Ruth, Esther, or Mary, the mother of Jesus.) How can we throw off the sin that hinders us?

For the FamilyLike the disciples, we have a “cloud of witnesses” around us today. Think of the people in your family, your church family, at work or school, who are the Christian witnesses in your life? How can they help us “run our race”? How can they help us to “fix our eyes on Jesus”?