Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Square Peg Into A Round Hole/丸い穴に四角い釘

キリストの変容 マルコによる福音書 第9章2~10節
The Transfiguration of Jesus Mark 9:2-10
Ever try to put a square peg into a round hole?  If one works at it for a while and with lots of pressure, it might indeed work.  Being in Japan is something like that for me.  I’d like to fit in but I really don’t.  Not a real problem of this nation as I love it here.  We have found so many wonderful friends here and the experience is one that has covered 1/2 of my life.  No regrets whatsoever. As I have said before, I just don’t fit in. But I get around OK. It is just important to ask the right questions. You will need to work hard at it.  Not easy!  It is important to have the right social keys that will help interpret what the answers really are.

In our story today, one man here does not have the right question or the right social keys to interpret what he is experiencing.  Peter has had a reputation of being like a bull in a dish factory. Speaking too soon, too harshly, or just being the big man he is by nature. Not really a fault in him but his impulsive nature had gotten him in some pretty painful situations.

Like when Jesus was talking about going to Jerusalem to die, Peter was the one to pull Him aside and tells Him that would not happen: he’d be there to stand by Him at all cost, no matter what! A square peg into a round hole.

Peter telling Jesus that he would always be by Jesus’ side, no matter what and then denying Jesus three times!
A square peg into a round hole.

In today’s passage, it seems that Peter just had one of his foot-in-mouth experiences once again. He is THE square peg a round hole.

Let’s get to that in a minute, but first; let’s look at what the problem was.  Was Peter a non-spiritual man?  No, not really. Did he have a social problem of some sort? No, he was just impulsive.  Not really that bad because he becomes an example of what we do all the time. A square peg into a round hole. Peter’s square-ness is very much like us when we speak out of turn.  When we forget where we are.  When we blow it big time with God, and watch what happens!  God does not throw us away!  He is bigger than that!   (Read Scripture: Mark 9:2-10)

Two points today: One: Set up the scene and Who was there. And Two: What do we do about it? It is a matter of asking the wrong question.

Set up the scene. Plainly put, Six men on a mountaintop.  Jesus took Peter, James and John with HIM and led them up a high mountain…

While they were up there, two more showed up: Elijah and Moses.  And these two were talking with Jesus.

Mark, Luke and John all say pretty much the same thing.  “…where they were all alone.” “…to pray.” “…by themselves.”

While they were up there…time was not a factor of how long it was…they were interrupted by something very unusual.  It just does not happen.  Has this ever happened to you? No?  Me either. Jesus was transfigured before them.  What does that mean?

transfiguration:* small ‘t’.
1.  a dramatic change in appearance, especially one that glorifies or exalts somebody. 2.  the transfiguring of somebody or something, or the changed state that results.
Transfiguration:* 1.  the radiant appearance of Jesus Christ on a mountaintop before three of his disciples, as recorded in the Bible.
* Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

What the passage says is: “There He was transfigured before them.”  His appearance “changed and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.”  “His face shone like the sun.” In Mark, it is added: “Whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.”

And this was normal?  It seems to me that the three men that Jesus brought up to the top of the mountain were not all that sharp.  The best they could do was to fall asleep!  They must have been very sleepy. Maybe a long walk and thin air but this was0 something out of the ordinary! They have been visited by two of the most well known Patriarchs in Hebrew History.

Which brings another question to mind: How did they know it was Moses and Elijah? Name tags? Not said: not important. Not the main point of this story. They were there and they were talking to Jesus. About what? Not said: not the main point of this story.

But leave things to Peter, he was so frightened (all three of them) he did not know what to say (or even think) so he opened his mouth and said:  5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

This was like Peter saying: “LET’S keep the three of you here together and all will be fine. The Romans will leave now because NOW all the Scripture have been fulfilled!  The Law and the Prophets and the Son of God; all together in the same place! Let’s not break up this fine trio! It is better than anything God had done so far.”

But Peter was wrong. Wrong question to ask. God stepped in, not even giving that question a second thought. 7 Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is My Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!”

“Let us not confuse this reality of My revelation to My People: The Law and the Prophets are not what I am all about: It is and forever will be about Jesus, My Son. Listen to Him alone.” Are we listening to Him … alone?

Part 2: What is central for you?  What is the core of your belief system? If all else in life was taken away, what would be left to believe in? Oh, we could say “Jesus alone!” But is that true?  Is Jesus alone enough?  Don’t answer that too quickly! Don’t be like a Peter! 

See what happened next in our passage? 8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. Moses and Elijah are gone! And what was Peter’s response this time? Not a word. He had been to the mountaintop with Jesus and had this wonderful experience that only three of the 12 had. He might have been a little puffed up. “I had a Transfiguration Experience.  Did you? No, well, I did and that makes me special in God’s sight.” That is exactly what happened later on. Who is going to sit on Your Right side and on Your Left side? That was the two brothers but what about Peter? He had no place to go…! “Peter, it is not an experience you need.  You need ME!”

Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant. Can you believe these guys? Two visitors from Heaven and all they can talk about is the meaning of words: “rising from the dead”

Jesus told them to keep these matters to themselves. Just between the four of us, guys! It will only bring jealous feelings out of the others. It is not the issue. The issue is that Jesus was set apart from the Ones the Jewish people and everyone else felt was really important. Sure the Law and the Prophets were important but they pointed to the day of Jesus. Not a matter of History.  It is a matter of Who Jesus Is!

God the Father told us who He was: “This is My Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!” He is the final answer. He alone is the final authority. He is the whole round plug that fits into the place in our heart that is only made for Him to dwell in.  We are made for Him. He made us that way. We live better when He is central in our lives.  Central in our homes.  Central in our workplaces.  In our relationships. In our marriages. His size fills all our longings. He fits in our lives.  In all of Life, He is to be Central… "Listen to Him!”