And when they came to the disciples [down from the mountain with Jesus as he was transfigured], they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greet him. And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?”
This chapter is extremely full. There is a ton happening:
1. Jesus opens with, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
— But wait Jesus, everyone who you tell this to dies before you have returned, before your kingdom comes with power? You still haven’t returned and it has been 2,000 years. A lot of us have died. What did you mean here?
2. Next, Jesus turns into this burning white heavenly form of himself & God speaks audibly & people who are dead are standing on the mountain with Jesus, Peter, James & John.
If I am Peter, James & John my head is exploding at this moment. “I was a fisherman like 5 minutes ago, now this?” They would have needed a second to process what is going on. Also, is this maybe the point of Jesus’ comment about the kingdom coming with power, is this a glimpse of the kingdom coming with power. Is this why Jesus says some will see it before they die?
3. After this amazing moment of seeing Jesus transfigured into this heavenly form & hearing God speak audibly, these disciples, who I am sure are totally reeling, they come down the mountain to what seems to be something close to a riot. A commotion of people frustrated with the disciples because they can’t do their job.
“What are you doing?! Cast out this demon. Can’t you see this kid needs it!” I could just imagine the panic and fear in the disciples. They are thinking, “We aren’t prepared for this.” I could see them wanting to throw the towel in. They are probably really afraid and overwhelmed. On top of already feeling insecure that Jesus didn’t choose them to go on the mountain with him. These disciples are really feeling it and the crowd can smell the fear and they pounce.
I really want to look at the forest, instead of the trees of this chapter. There isn’t one specific topic I want to touch on, there is so much. But there is a feeling or a reality I want to pull out from the whole chapter.
Ministry, living for Jesus, following Jesus & doing it well is really confusing at times, really overwhelming sometimes & you are going to want to throw in the towel.
Sometimes when you need a break, you aren’t going to get it, like the disciples who saw Jesus transfigured. They are overwhelmed I am sure, but they don’t get two seconds to process it. Jesus even tells them not to talk about it with others. So they aren’t even allowed to process it with others, but before they could even think about it they are walking into a riot of people yelling & screaming at their friends, the rest of the disciples. No time to process. On to the next huge moment. That is how following Jesus often goes. That is OK. Trust him. Don’t always look for a release valve, or a time of rest, sometimes they don’t come. Sometimes we just rest in Jesus in the midst of the craziness.
Lastly, as you are doing ministry you will feel completely and wholly the depth of your inadequacies. And sadly, people will point them out. They will tell you about them. They will want you to fix them. That is OK. It helps you grow. And it might even be really loving of them to rebuke you or to teach you or to disciple you. We need to grow & we need moments where we are asked, “Why can’t you cast this demon out? Isn’t this what you guys do? You need to do better.”
The disciples felt really inadequate at the moment… because they are! We all are. But when Jesus comes he helps us. He teaches us. He shows us. But he doesn’t save us from feeling inadequate. He doesn’t save us from feeling the breath, the hot, sweat rolling down our face while the riot of people yell at us.
I pray that we would trust you, I would trust you, in the midst of ministry. I don’t want to be someone who always rolls his eyes when following you gets difficult. I don’t want to complain and look for an escape, to run from difficult situations or to assume that somehow walking with you saves me from those. I want to trust you. I want to see that you are who you say you are and that these same things happen to all of your disciples & followers. Give me, give us the grace to love you and to trust you each day of our lives, of our ministry, of our loving people enough.