Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen listen to him!” 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. On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. Just then a man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astounded at the greatness of God.
This is the word of the Lord
Mixture of Two Realities
We live in two realities, good and bad. There are good times, but there are also bad times. There are times we feel spiritually high, optimistic and we feel like we can do everything well and everything will go all right, but there are also times when we feel spiritually so dry. Not only that, we feel devastated, hopeless and helpless. When things are good, we feel good, but when things are bad, we feel miserable. That’s life. Good times and bad times. We cannot do anything about it. We cannot demand our life to be this way or that way. We cannot just complain because life does not turn out the way we want it to turn out. Unexpected things happen and unpleasant things also happen. Sometimes we are to be blamed for things that happen in our lives, but other times they just happen regardless of us. Things just come to us without any warning. Life is a mixture of two realities; good and bad.
I think the author of Ecclesiastes knew about this very well, this duality of life, or the two realities of life. I think the author of Ecclesiastes knew it very well when he said this; “a time to be born and a time to die.” Interestingly, my son, Joshua’s birthday is the same day as the day my father passed away. One gone, the other came. A time to weep and a time to laugh. A time to mourn, and the time to dance. A time to seek, and the time to lose.He knew very well about the dualities of life. Two realities of life. A few chapters later, he gave us this advice, when times are good, be happy, but when times are bad, consider this, God has made one as well as the other. Therefore no one can discover anything about their future. That was the advance of Ecclesiastes.
Even When You’re With Jesus
The disciples experienced this duality of life, even when they were with Jesus. So I realized even if you believe in God, even if you are with Jesus, you experience these two realities in your life. The bad times will not disappear. Good times and bad times will be there even when you’re with Jesus.
The first day they went up to the mountain and experienced something no ordinary human being had experienced. They saw Jesus being totally transformed, dazzling white. They saw the two most famous Old Testament figures, Moses and Elijah, and they heard the voice of God. We’ve all experienced these kinds of things, being spiritually high. They felt like they were in a cloud. They were actually in a cloud. They felt that they could do anything on the way down. It was so good that Peter asked Jesus, why don’t we build tents here and live here forever?
But the very next day, they encountered a very different reality. A dark reality, a harsh reality, a demonic reality. They encountered demons, the devil, darkness. They had to deal with this demonic power and in that experience, they saw that they were powerless, vulnerable, weak. They cannot do anything with their power. The boy was demon possessed. They fell for him, but they could not do anything. They felt totally defeated. The day before they felt victorious, but the day after they feel so defeated. This was what the father of the boys said, “I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they cannot do it.” They cannot do it. They experienced the duality of their reality in just two days. High and low, ups and downs, elated pride and depressing embarrassment.
Reading this and meditating and reflecting on this, I realized that two realities are not really two realities. They are just one reality called life. We cannot have one excluding the other. Good times and bad times are not two separate realities. This is simply the rhythm of life. Notes go up and down, but it is still the same song. Two realities are simply the rhythm of life and it’s one reality called life, but our attitude and our feelings are very different towards our good times and bad times. When good times come, we welcome them. We like it. When bad times come, we ask ourselves why these things happen. Why are these things with me as though that is not part of me, as though bad times should not be there.
We are too sensitive. The disciples did not become true disciples of Jesus Christ just like that. Just because they were called by Jesus, they did not become disciples of Jesus Christ. They had to go through ups and downs, victory and defeat, and through this, they were in the process of becoming disciples. They experienced failures, hopelessness, frustration, misguided expectations, false beliefs, even denial. When you read the Gospel very carefully, until they entered into Jerusalem, they all thought that Jesus Christ would conquer the Romans, so they expected that. “Let me sit on your right hand and let me sit on your hand when you have that power. When you control Jerusalem.” They had a totally misguided expectation and even Peter denied him on this palm Sunday. Until they entered into Jerusalem that’s how they were, but through all that, they became disciples. They did not have a highway of being disciples from the moment that they were called.
At The Cross
The Cross is our dark times. At the cross we feel abandoned. On the cross, even Jesus cried out, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Total abandonment. At the cross, we see only darkness. When Jesus was on the cross, the whole world became dark. The whole world. And at the cross we feel spiritually so dry. Even Jesus felt that dryness on the cross, he said, I am thirsty.
So my friends, when dark times come, remember that. That is your cross to bear. Jesus said, you want to follow me? Take up your own cross and follow me. Don’t run away. Don’t turn your face away, but don’t fear either. Just simply take up your cross. The cross will ultimately bring the resurrection. The cross and resurrection are not two separate realities, but one connected reality. Bad times and good times are not two separate realities, but one connected reality.
Some of you may be going through hard times right now. Some of you may go through bad times, but bad times will not stay with you forever. When you take them as your cross, they’ll bring about resurrection. And I also realize this, good times are not the absence of bad times. You have good times, not just because there are no bad times. Good times are a result of how you deal with your bad times. They’re not absence of bad times.
Yesterday I counseled a couple who just went through life’s most difficult time. I was so impressed at how they handled their situations. I was very proud of them and I told them how proud I was. Bad times can bring worse times, but if you take your bad times with hope in God and trust in God, they will not destroy you. When the right time comes, things will be restored. Jesus Christ did not end at the cross. Jesus’ cross came to the empty tomb. That’s the message of the Gospel.