Transfigured: a prayer reflection

Fr Sieger Köder, “Transfiguration”

“While he [Peter] was going on like this, babbling, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and sounding from deep in the cloud a voice: ‘This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of my delight. Listen to him.'” (Matthew 17:5, MSG)

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV)

Light. Brilliant and blazing. Unearthly on earth.
Our eyes streaming. The radiance overpowering.
This is who He really is but we had not seen it.
The Voice. Booming with love. Knowing and known.
Unveiled and vulnerably open. Glorious apocalypse.

And we, too, are thus a glorious apocalypse.
Seeing Him and seen by Him. His voice speaking love in and over us.
Known and knowing. Transforming us to who we really are.
His glory overpowering us. Our eyes streaming.
Holy Spirit residing in us. Divine presence in flesh and bone.
Light blazing through clay vessels. Transfiguring us in Him.

Scandalous Jesus – a new series at Eastbrook Church

This coming Sunday at Eastbrook Church we begin a new preaching series entitled “Scandalous Jesus.” This series traces the journey of Jesus in Jerusalem from His triumphal entry through His crucifixion.

This series also parallels the season of Lent and you are welcome to join in with the Lenten devotional we pull together every year written by the Eastbrook community. You can access the devotional online, as a downloadable PDF, via the Eastbrook app, or through a limited-run of paper copies.

This is the ninth part of our long series on Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” “Stories of the Kingdom: parables of Jesus,” “Who Do You Say I Am?“, “‘Tis the Reason,” and “Jesus Said What?!

Join us each weekend of this series in-person or via Eastbrook at Home.

Here are the weekly topics for this six-part series:

March 6 – “Unlikely King” – text: Matthew 20:17-19; 21:1-11

March 13 – “The Withering of the Old Ways” – text: Matthew 21:12-27

March 20 – “Pictures of the Kingdom” – text: Matthew 21:28-22:14

March 27 – “Questioning Jesus” – text: Matthew 22:15-46, focusing on 34-46

April 3 – “The Woes of the Religiously Misguided” – text: Matthew 23:1-38

April 10 [Palm Sunday] – “And So It Begins” – text: Matthew 26:1-16

Jesus Said What?! – a new series at Eastbrook

This coming Sunday at Eastbrook Church we begin a new preaching series entitled “Jesus Said What?!” On His way to the Cross Jesus teaches about a series of things we often avoid in the church or don’t associate with the teaching of Jesus. Join us as we explore things you may never knew Jesus addressed in His teaching.

This is the eight part of our longer series on Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” “Stories of the Kingdom: parables of Jesus,” “Who Do You Say I Am?“, and “‘Tis the Reason.”

Join us each weekend of this series in-person or via Eastbrook at Home.

Here are the weekly topics for this four-part series:

February 6 – “Jesus on Sin and Forgiveness” – text: Matthew 18:15-35

February 13 – “Jesus on Divorce and Marriage” – text: Matthew 19:1-12; 22:23-33

February 20 – “Jesus on Greatness” – text: Matthew 18:1-14; 19:13-15; 20:20-28

February 27 – “Jesus on Taxes, Riches, and God’s Generous Kingdom” – text: Matthew 17:24-27; 19:16-30; 20:1-16; 22:15-22

His Suffering Brings Salvation

On His way to Jerusalem, Jesus makes three predictions of His coming suffering, death, and resurrection. The first of those is found in Matthew 16:21, while Jesus is in Caesarea Philippi. The second prediction is in Matthew 17:22-23, while Jesus and His disciples are in Galilee on the way to Jerusalem. And the third prediction is a few chapters later in Matthew 20:17-19 as Jesus and His disciples draw close to Jerusalem.

Each of these predictions begins with Jesus promising that suffering will come. He says, “the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men” (Matthew 17:22).

This word “delivered” has the sense of being handed over or entrusted. That can have a good meaning, such as someone delivering us a gift and handing it over to us. But there is a darker sense of this word that sometimes has the sense of being betrayed. There are hints here that someone will be instrumental in handing Jesus over to the authorities. There are perhaps even hints toward the eventual role that Judas will serve as a disciple betraying Jesus. Regardless, the deliverance Jesus references here is not a pleasant word but a painful word. 

Not only that, but Jesus says He will be condemned to die. In Matthew 20, Jesus offers the most information of any of the predictions, describing in great detail the suffering yet to come. He says, “the chief priests and the teachers of the law…will condemn him to death” (Matthew 20:18). While everyone already knew these religious authorities didn’t like Jesus, it may have been surprising to hear how far Jesus says they would go to be rid of Him. 

Even more, Jesus says these religious leaders will hand Jesus “over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified” (Matthew 20:19). “The Gentiles” literally means the nations, but here refers to the occupying power of the Romans. This would have been beyond comprehension for the disciples. They had recently rightly identified Jesus as the Messiah and Son of the Living God. Now He describes a way of being the Messiah that seems totally at odds with their expectations. How could it be that the Messiah would save humanity when He would end up suffering and dying…at the hands of the Gentiles!!

How could this be? What reason could there be within this prediction of Jesus? Why must Jesus suffer in such a confusing way? 

Why was it? It was because Jesus had come to bring salvation to the world. He was sent to bring life in the midst of the death caused by sin and evil. The only way He could bring victory over sin and death was to enter into its darkness and come out the other side of that tunnel. He would be mocked and His physical body would be beaten and crucified. As Isaiah 53 speaks of the Messiah, “by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). 

Jesus brought hope, but that hope could only come after the darkness tried to snuff it out. 

Praise God for what we read about Jesus in John 1:4-5:

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)

His Resurrection Brings Hope

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our Advent journey and our preaching series entitled “‘Tis the Reason.” In this fourth week of the series we explore two texts in which Jesus predicts His coming suffering, death, and resurrection in Jerusalem: Matthew 17:22-23 and 20:17-19. Along with Matthew 16:21, these predictions shape the direction in which Jesus will bring salvation as Messiah. They also point us through the darkness of sin, evil, and grief to a hope that is found in Jesus the light of the world.

This message is part of the seventh part of our longer series on Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” “Stories of the Kingdom,” and “Who Do You Say I Am?”

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.

“The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” (Matthew 17:22-23)

Jesus’ Three Predictions

First prediction (Matthew 16:21) – in Caesarea Philippi

Second prediction (Matthew 17:22-23) – in Galilee on the way to Jerusalem

Third prediction (Matthew 20:17-19) – nearing Jerusalem

The Promise of Suffering (Matthew 17:22-23; 20:18-19)

Handed over – entrusted – betrayed; hints at the role of Judas

Condemned to death by the chief priests and teachers of the law

Mocked, flogged, and crucified by the Gentiles

Hope in Jesus, the light not been overcome by the darkness

Grappling with Grief and Hope (Matthew 17:23)

The disciples’ grief at Jesus’ prediction

Losing sight of hope

Bringing our grief to Jesus

The Pathway of Hope (Matthew 17:23; 20:19)

On the third day, raised to life

Love arrives in Jesus

Hope rises through Jesus

Faith grasps ahold of Jesus

Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:

  • Memorize Matthew 17:22-23 or 20:18-19
  • Although we are preparing for Christmas, remember the real reason for this season by reading Matthew’s account of Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection in Matthew 26:47-28:15.
  • Write a prayer of thanksgiving for Jesus’ death and resurrection, perhaps weaving into it the themes of Advent and Christmas.
  • Pray for opportunities to share about Jesus the Messiah with those in your relational network. When God gives you opportunity, speak of Jesus to them.