Devotion: A voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” – Matthew 17:5b

Devotion / Reflection 1 Corinthians 15:2-8

Peter must have been an astonishing character. He had so much zeal for the Lord, just like a child for their father. He wanted to show his joy and excitement, yet in doing so, he constantly got things wrong and did not listen. So, our loving Father needed to discipline him, yet He did so with steadfast love, constantly repeating the same words he already mentioned at the Baptism: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

At the transfiguration of Jesus, where Peter realised something good was happening, Peter rudely interrupted Jesus’s conversation with Moses and Elijah concerning his exodus from Jerusalem. It was as if Peter wanted to take a selfie, to capture this exalted mountaintop experience. He wanted to hold on to this glorious moment and to prevent Jesus’s exodus: “Yes, Jesus, if it is your will, let me build a lasting dwelling place for You, Moses and Elijah close to Jerusalem”. Peter did not listen to what Jesus was busy talking about. Jesus had even reprimanded him a week ago for not listening to him, when He said that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things. Now Peter did it again. What is still missing from this mountaintop picture of Epiphany is Lent and Easter. Peter was an obstacle to the work of Jesus, because he was setting his mind on things of man and not of God.

Yet, how amazing is the fact that our Father, by his declaration – to listen to Jesus –, brings about Lent. Peter literally fell to the ground when he heard our Father’s voice. Our Father repeated the words from Jesus’s Baptism, but he added these words: Continue to listen to Jesus.

After Lent was brought about in Peter, Jesus was quick to jump in. He came and touched Peter and said: “Rise and have no fear.” During Peter’s Lent, he learned to listen to Jesus and rose. Yes, Peter would soon fall again, when he did not listen to Jesus and even denied him three times; but then the simple crow of a rooster brought the Words of Jesus to mind. The result was the beginning of Peter’s exodus from Lent to Easter. We cannot partake in the resurrected glory of Jesus without partaking in the cross of Jesus.

This situation is astonishingly similar for us. Many of us are satisfied when life is trouble free. But in difficult times our faith is tested. Many a times we are taken from mountaintops and must walk through valleys of death or deserts, where we desire to have a foretaste of the future resurrected glory of God. How foolish we are to forget that we already have it!

The touch of Jesus given to us by water and Word foreshows the day when we gather with all the saints at the river (Rev 22:1) and the very body and blood of the Lord we receive in, with and under the bread and wine foreshows the bounty of the messianic banquet.

It is true that this world is not heaven, but by Jesus’s Word we are making an exodus from this old Jerusalem into a new Jerusalem. By Jesus’s Word we are already partakers in this new Kingdom of God, but we do not yet see the fullness thereof.

So even though I walk through the valley of death, I fear no evil, because I hear of Jesus’s glorious work, being preached to me throughout Lent, completed on the cross. During this coming and short Lenten time we recall the Word of God concerning the death of Jesus on the cross for the entire world. We hear that Jesus has won the victory by his death and resurrection. Thanks be to God alone.

May God grant it that in the midst of our Lent, we listen and begin to rise and see only Jesus; that I might leave out a meal to find more time to listen to the Words of Jesus; that I miss a Golf Day on a Sunday to listen to Jesus’s glorious Words at church; that I switch off the TV, so that I find time to read the Words of Jesus; that I may lead my children to church in good and difficult times, that they may also listen to Jesus. At the end of the day, that is all that matters: the Words of Jesus. By His Word we already have salvation right now. May God grant that the fullness thereof may come soon! Amen.

(Written by Pastor Martin Kurt Paul, Johannesburg, Fairland)

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