Six Days later
Matthew began with
“Six days later…”
What happened six days before?
This was what Jesus said six days before.
From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. (Matthew 16:21)
Jesus told the disciples what would happen to him.
Then, six days later, Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a mountain to pray. There they experienced this wonderful divine manifestation.
Experience of God’s manifestation.
Jesus completely changed. Out of this world kind of experience they had. His face shone like the sun. His clothes became dazzling white. Moses and Elijah, two great prophets appeared.
When these amazing things happen, the usual response will be to be quiet. Silence that comes from being deeply immersed in the moment. That’s what people do.
That was what happened when I went to Algonquin a long time ago. I think I told you before. We had a night hike. And it was a pitch dark. We went through the deep woods. Then we came to a point. All of a sudden, there was an opening and we saw so many stars. They were so close to us. I felt like I could touch them. The dark sky was filled with stars. We were all so amazed and nobody talked. Nobody dared to speak. For a quite while, everybody was silent and just savoured the awesome experience. There were more than 30 people.
But not Peter. Even in that moment, he had to speak. He broke the silence and said. This is great. Lord, if you want, I will build three tents here for you, for Moses, and for Elijah.
Even God could not be patient with him anymore. He cut Peter off.
Matthew recorded it very nicely.
WHILE he was STILL speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them… (Matthew 17:5)
Then God spoke.
This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him! (Matthew 17:5)
My Son and I am well pleased with him – very important recognition: Two things to remember.
Then everybody was silent. Even Peter was silent this time. Luke recorded it in this way.
When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen. (Luke 9:36)
It was a phenomenal experience. They would have never forgotten this experience. It would have been always so vivid to them. This experience was always present, now experience for them. It was not something that happened in the past.
I asked this question. Who was this experience for? Why did God change Jesus like this and let the disciples experience this wonderful experience?
I realized that it was both for Jesus and the disciples. They all needed that. What was waiting for Jesus and for the disciples was a very gloomy reality. The suffering they would face soon would be very difficult. This experience they had was God’s message that he cares. God is with you. It was to assure them that they were not alone in that suffering.
YES, SUFFERING HAS TO BE EXPERIENCED IN THE CONTEXT OF GRACE. Even Jesus needed that glorious moment. Suffering is that hard. It is hard for anybody. Whether you are a saint or a sinner, it is hard. Whether you are the Son of God, or an ordinary human being like you and me, suffering is hard.
Suffering With Grace
That’s why we are collecting donations for Turkey and Syria. How difficult it must be for them. Can you imagine? 40,000 people died from this tragedy. How many tears, heartaches, and sad stories will be there? They lost everything. We feel for them. We want to be with them in their sorrow. That’s why we do donations. PCC already sent blankets and very basic things they would need.
Suffering was hard even for Jesus. So in Gethsemane, he had the temptation to run away from it.
Knowing how hard it would be, God showed them this wonderful experience. God manifested himself to them in a powerful way. God showed his glory.
I think it is very important to remember that suffering has to be experienced in the context of grace. When you experience suffering without grace, you become damaged. You become hardened. You become too cynical and critical. So when I see people who overcome their own tragedies and come out even stronger, I admire them. Without faith, they would not have been able to get up again.
Suffering is the inevitable part of human experience. We all suffer. Suffering of illness, suffering of loss, suffering of broken relationships, suffering of guilt, suffering of worries about our future, suffering of injustice, suffering of poverty, suffering of rejection, suffering of loneliness, and suffering of fear of death and so on. Endless suffering we experience in our lives.
What we need is to have glorious moments. Otherwise these sufferings will swallow us up. And we will be ruined.
You all need glorious moments. To live meaningfully, you need these glorious moments. Glorious moments are not necessarily successful moments. Glorious moment are moments when you recognize two important things. One: You are God’s precious child. Two: God is pleased with you. God is very happy with you. You go through your suffering not because God doesn’t like you or disapproves you. God is very pleased with you. Recognizing that is the glorious moment. Those were the words that came from heaven. You are my son. I am pleased with you.
Living with this recognition is very important. That is what I do every day in my meditation. Simple recognition. Otherwise, I will feel small and worthless. And often, God lets me know that he cares. I can see that. That helps. That helps a lot. A little gestures of kindness, words of encouragement, support. All these things are gifts that God granted to me to hold me strong. And I am thankful for that.
You are a precious child. God is very pleased with you. This recognition should be cultivated within you.
If you feel that every day, then now you are ready to take on your suffering.
On the way down, Jesus said this again.
Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands. (Matthew 17:12)
Jesus was ready to take the suffering.
Don’t Suffer on Your Own
You don’t need to run away from your suffering any more. Now, you can take up the cross and follow Jesus. You can live your life meaningfully in the midst of all the sufferings you experience in your life.
God does not leave you alone in your suffering. Yes, suffering makes you feel that you are all alone. That’s what suffering does. Makes you feel lonely. Even Jesus felt that on the cross. He felt that he was all alone. He felt the silence of God. He even felt the abandonment of God. That is what suffering does to us.
But you are not alone. God will allow you to experience glorious moments. In your loneliness, you will see that God is right there with you. In your sadness, you will hear the words of comfort. In your frustration and anger, you will feel God’s gentleness. In your darkness, you will see the light. Don’t suffer on your own. You have no strength to deal with it. Trust in God and hold the hands of God. Suffering has to be experienced in the context of grace.
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