Jesus The True Center Matthew 17:1-9 Scout/Transfiguration Weekend Pastor Carey February 11, 2018

A man took his new hunting dog on a trial hunt one day.  After a while he managed to shoot a duck and it fell in the lake.  The dog walked across the water, picked up the duck, and brought it to his master.  The man was stunned and didn’t know what to think.  He shot another duck and again the dog walked over the water and brought it back to his master.  Hardly believing his eyes, and not wanting to be thought crazy, he told no one about it. The next day he called his neighbor to go duck hunting with him.  As on the previous day he shot a duck and it fell into the lake.  Again the dog walked across the water and got it. His neighbor didn’t say a word.  They both shot several more ducks that day – and each time the dog walked on the water to retrieve them – and each time the neither man said a word.  Finally – unable to contain himself any longer the owner asked his neighbor – “do you notice anything strange about my dog?” Yes I do.” replied the neighbor, “Your dog doesn’t know how to swim!”

The fun and tragic point of this simple story was what the neighbor didn’t see was more important than what he did see!  He missed the incredible miracle right before his eyes because he was “looking” at the wrong thing.  How often have you “seen” something in your life, but really never “saw” the meaning behind what you witnessed until much later?    This can happen to us along this journey of faith we call Christian discipleship.  Sometimes we think we already “know” where we are, and what we know only to “see” or discover new things about the Jesus we thought we knew.  Those moments can take us out of our comfort zones, they can even be terrifying.  But remember that our God continues to help us understand more and more about the width, the depth and the heights of who he really is.  Our struggle is trying to grasp an infinite, holy being with a very finite mind.

Transfiguration Weekend is always the weekend before beginning the Lenten season.  Our founding mothers and fathers in the faith understood well the importance of “seeing” who Jesus really is before entering into a time of personal penance and reflection in preparation for Easter.

You see, Lent is not as much about us as it is about Jesus and how well we are growing in his likeness.  The transfiguration story is our annual reminder of who this Jesus really is: God in skin (God incarnate).  The word “transfigured” means to transform or to change, literally or figuratively. The word is a verb that means to change into another form. It also means to change the outside to match the inside. In the transfiguration of Jesus it means to match the outside with the reality of the inside. Jesus’ transfiguration displayed the Shekinah glory of God incarnate in the Son.

The three disciples then and all disciples since run the risk of being too familiar, perhaps too comfortable with Jesus that can cloud our eyes and our understanding to who he is.  We run the risk of forgetting, in our familiarity, that Jesus is our God.  He is the creator, sustainer, savior and judge of the world.  While he wants us to know him intimately, he also wants us to know him for who he really is.  So, who do you “see” when you see Jesus?

There are several ways to look at this incredible story.  We could talk about the special three disciples chosen to experience this vision.  We could talk about their response to the experience.  We could talk about the symbolism of the two visitors Elijah and Moses and how they represented the prophet and the law.  We could even point out that this was Moses’ first step onto the Promised Land. We could talk about the voice of the Father claiming, again, that Jesus was his beloved son. There are several other messages this story could also us point to, but for our time today, let’s simply reflect on the fact that Jesus was at the center of the story. Jesus was at the center of the Disciple’s vision.  Jesus was at the center of their attention and Jesus calls us to keep him as the center of our lives as well.

Have you ever thought about how important having things centered are?  I remember decorating my first apartment myself.  I proudly invited my girl-friend over to check it out and her first comment was, “Well it’s nice, but your pictures are not centered and the furniture isn’t either.”  She noticed something I didn’t – in my haste to hang the pictures and place furniture, they were not centered in the room. And my decorating didn’t look good at all.

It is the same for Christian disciples too.  If we are not centering ourselves to something structured and permanent – Jesus, we run the risk of being unbalanced.  Think of the times in your life when everything seemed out of balance – out of sorts.  Those were probably the times we may have drifted away from our faith, or perhaps became a little too confident in our own strength or knowledge.  But we found out that we were unbalanced – Jesus was not the true center of our life.

Mike Ripski shares a story in one of his messages about a young woman asking her older co-worker why she went to church every Sunday: “Does something happen there that can’t happen somewhere else? And does it happen every Sunday?” The older woman replied, “What happens is I go to meet the God whom I’ve come to know in Jesus. God meets me in other settings than at church. But most of the times I miss most of God’s appointments with me. I find that I live most of my days in a daze – as though I’m sleepwalking or on autopilot. I go to church to be reminded of God’s presence in my life.” The younger woman then asked, “So you go to church every week and God meets you there?”  The older woman answered, “I go to church every Sunday and for reasons I can’t explain, I meet God about 1 in every 8 worship services.”  The younger woman asked, “Then why do you go every Sunday?”  The older woman replied, “I go every Sunday because I never know when that one Sunday is going to be.”

In this transfiguration story, Jesus once again stands before us identifying himself as our creator, sustainer, savior, judge and center of our life.  As we prepare to have a Holy Lenten season, let’s first start by making sure that Jesus is our center.  He meets us where we are. He is the one who helps to balance our lives.  He is the one to whom we align our decisions, motives, actions and devotion to.  He is the One who helps us to match up what is on our inside with what is on the outside.  Maybe, the transfiguration story is our subtle reminder to “see” what Jesus would want us to know, to grow and to go in our commitment to him and to be reminded that Jesus still surprises us.

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