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Communion Meditations (2015)

Transfiguration

Originally scheduled for November 29

In one of the most difficult passages in the New Testament we see the record of Christ, on the mountain, being transfigured before three of his disciples (Peter, James and John.) During this Transfiguration two figures from the Old Testament appear before Christ. The first of these is Moses. In a career that positively dripped miracles, the most important thing that can be said about Moses is that he is the Lawgiver to the Jewish people. By his hands the Ten Commandments were brought down from the mountain. This was his great mission. You can see its importance by the fact that when Christ is arguing with the Pharisees or the scribes, the common phrase used to describe the regulations derived from Moses is “the Law of Moses.” To the Jewish people, he is the supreme authority on right and wrong.

The other man who appears before Christ is Elijah. He is the quintessential prophet of the Old Testament. His particular role was to be the man who stood against all of the authority in the kingdom and proclaimed the will of God. It is our picture of prophets ever since; men who live in the wilderness, often on the run from the anger of the King. What is remarkable about Elijah among all the other prophets of the Old Testament is this: he never died. His assistant, Elisha, saw him taken up to heaven bodily. When the ancient Jew spoke of Moses and Elijah it was a synonym for “the Law and the Prophets.”

Taken together these two men, great as they are, are subordinate to Jesus Christ. Christ is a man whose mere presence suspends the law; whose message exceeds that of all the prophets. In all things he is first. But there is more.

Moses died. It seems that he made one mistake in his career, and it cost him the privilege of entering the promised land. Great as he was, he experienced death. Elijah, on the other hand, is a representative of those who have eternal life — he never died. The superiority of Christ over these two also implies his superiority over both life and death. If these two lessons were all we got out of the Transfiguration the text would be more than honored. What is astonishing about it is that the Transfiguration happens just before the Crucifixion. Indeed, as Christ was walking down the mountain and explaining the role of John the Baptist as Elijah he remarks that as the leaders had done to John the Baptist what they pleased, they would do the same with Jesus. He knew that he was going to suffer and die. He gave his life for us, out of his great love.

And out of this great episode we can see what Christ thought most important. Think about it; what did he ask you to remember?

·         He does not ask you to remember that he is Lord of the law and the prophets.

·         He does not ask you to remember that he is Lord of life and death.

He asks you, as you take communion, that you remember his great sacrifice on the Cross. It is not his great power or authority, it is his great love that we celebrate in communion. Consider it well; this is the one thing he wants you to remember every time. So as you partake this morning, remember that the Lord of the law and the prophets, the Lord of life and death wants you to remember his great love.

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