Enclosed a draft of a new book I am considering writing and a draft of the first chapter of what I believe will be many more to come hopefully. Interested in getting reaction to what I have to say and as always all comments welcomed. Look forward to hearing back from you all.
Brother Lawrence Damien Cos
During the Lenten season we are called to follow Jesus through the stages of rejection, trial and condemnation, Calvary, the tomb and finally to participation in his resurrection and ascension and all that means. However what is it all really about especially for us in the 21st century? Is it just about some historical event or is there something we are supposed to be getting from this that can change us and our world? In that regard where does this all begin? Where do the first hints of the impending death and resurrection of Jesus first surface? What are the circumstances under which the idea is presented and who are the participants to this conversation concerning the ultimate fate of Jesus? Finally what is their reaction to the news that Jesus would die? The answers to these questions I believe help Jesus define and fulfill his mission. For us today it I believe shows us what Lent is truly about and what life in general should be about. Follow with me as we look at this further.
- It Begins With Transfiguration and Transformation
The three synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke[i] all mention the transfiguration of Jesus. They also agree that it takes place about a week after Peterâ€™s declaration of Jesus as the Christ the Son of the Living God. Matthew and Mark says this happens in the region of Caesarea Philippi[ii] while Luke narrows down to Bethsaida[iii] hometown of Peter, Andrew and Philip It was located on the Sea of Galilee about 50 miles from the city of Caesarea Philippi and 8Â miles from Capernaum which was Jesus main headquarters during much of his ministry. It was a fishing village at the confluence of the Jordan River where it empties into the Sea of Galilee. The name Bethsaida means House of hunting or fishing. This is interesting because here it is that Jesus is hunting or fishing for a answer from the disciples as to he is. Are they beginning to even get a glimpse of who Jesus is? They start of discussing who the crowds say he is Elijah, John the Baptist, or possibly one of the prophets. Then Jesus narrows it down by asking the disciples who they say he is. There is absolute silence until Peter speaks up and calls him the Christ[iv]. It is just after this that Jesus begins to speak of his death and resurrection.. Peter name is Petros in Greek and means a stone that can be easily flung, Jesus however says he will become Petra or an unmovable rock. Right now Peter is Petros with it seems a bad case of foot and mouth disease wherein it seems he is always it seems like getting his foot caught in his mouth. When Jesus reveals he is going to be killed Peter is right there to argue with Jesus rebuking him and insisting no such thing would ever to him. Jesus rebukes Peter saying he is being used by Satan thereby offending Jesus because he is focused on the things of man and not of God.[v] One moment being told he is the rock upon which the church would be built ( or at least on his revelation of Jesus as the Christ the Son of God), then the next being called Satan who thinks like a man instead of one focused on the things of God. How like us I believe. One moment we can be on top of the mountain flying high. We have accepted Jesus and no we are telling him
â€śJesus use me and O Lord donâ€™t refuse me,
For surely thereâ€™s a work that I can do,
And Lord though it be humble help my will to crumble,
No matter what the cost Iâ€™ll work for youâ€ť.
We may mean it with everything in us, and then comes a temptation, trial; test or perhaps a tragedy and we begin to waver. We come up with wrong answer it seems, suddenly nothing seems to make sense anymore, seems we are under attack from all sides and weâ€™re thinking this is not what I signed up for and we begin to have doubts and perhaps even backslide a bit for awhile. Guess what its perfectly okay just hold on for a bit more transformation is coming. If we can hang in there it will take us from Petros to Petra from something which can be easily thrown for a loop to a solid rock that can withstand anything even as it did for Peter. How can this be? For that answer we need to go to the Mount of Transfiguration.
Traditionally the Mount of Transfiguration has since about the third century CE been identified with Mount Tabor which is about 11 miles from the Sea of Galilee. It is shaped almost like half a sphere which suddenly rises from rather flat surroundings and reaches a height of 575 meters (1,886 feet) thus dominatingÂ by a good 450 meters the towns in the plain below. The mountain too is a monadnock, an isolated hill or small mountain rising abruptly from gently sloping or level surrounding land and is not volcanic. The mountain is on the border of three tribes Zebulon, Issachar, and Naphtali.[vi] Â Mount Tabor has strategic control of the junction of the Galileeâ€™s north and south routes with the east-west highway of the Jezreel Valley. It is the site of the defeat of Sisera and the Canaanites with him.[vii]
According to Matthew and Mark 6 days after the confession of Peter, Peter, James, John and Jesus climb the mountain to pray.[viii] Luke says it was 8 days later.[ix] Some may see this as a contradiction in the Bible. However I believe more numbers point to something greater and what will be happening on the Mount of Transfiguration. Â 6 is the number of man and 8 is the number of new beginnings. Thus the Mount of Transfiguration is a place of new beginnings for man/humans. How can this happen?
Luke tells us that when they reach the top of the mountain Peter, James and John are tired and fall sleep as they would do like at Gethsemane when Jesus wanted them to pray with him.[x] When they wake up they see Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah about Jesus death he would be undergoing in Jerusalem in a few days. Why are Moses and Elijah present? Moses means draw out coming when an Egyptian princess draws out of the Nile River and adopts him as her son, Elijah means my God is YAHWEH which is one of the Hebrew names for God. Thus God is drawing people away from Bethsaida and hunting and fishing for truth in the law represented by Moses who received it on Mt. Sinai and the prophets represented by Elijah and points them to the one who is truth[xi] and who comes to fulfill the law totally[xii]. Â In Malachi it says God will send the Prophet Elijah to turn the hearts of the father to the children and the children back to their fathers.[xiii] On the mount then Elijah is transferring the power given him to Jesus. This power and anointing had previously operated in John the Baptist[xiv]. However he is dead and so now Elijah passes the anointing and power on to Jesus who in his ministry will heal, deliver people from demonic oppression, raise the dead, plead for the widow and orphans to be taken care of and when he cones again he will bring healing for all nations.[xv] Â Furthermore the name of the three disciples Peter, James and John shows us what is happening and what the Mount of Transfiguration is all about. As I mentioned earlier Peter is stone that can be easily thrown. James is the Greek form of Jacob meaning supplanter.Â John means God is gracious. So to all who have problems standing and can be blown around easily, to those who are trying to rig things their way and get what they want God is gracious pointing to Jesus. Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua meaning God has saved. Thus Moses and Elijah are saying the law canâ€™t save nor can the prophets but Jesus can. John says of him â€śBehold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.â€ť[xvi] The angel of the Lord speaking to Joseph concerning the son Mary was to have told him to name it Jesus because he would save his people from their sins.[xvii]
In closing I believe this what the Mount of Transfiguration points to. It points to Jesus as the Savior of the world, the Lamb of God who can take away sin. This is the change it offers us by one who can change us and then through us change the world. This is the new day for all of humankind I talked about earlier. So were on our way. Jesus knows what is coming and openly embraces it and heads for Jerusalem. The disciples may not fully understand what is happening preferring to build dwelling places instead but there is no complaining. If Jesus is going to Jerusalem then they are too. We as modern disciples who follow Jesus will go there also. We will go through all he does, walk the Via Del La Rosa with him to Calvary, witness the crucifixion, watch at the tomb and then on Easter Sunday morn witness the resurrection of our Lord as well as ours too in victory. Then will come the Ascension so Jesus can send the Holy SpiritÂ to empower us at Pentecost to go live extraordinarily in our ordinary, mundane everyday lives and take our world as the hands and feet of Jesus.
Hope you all enjoyed and comments always welcomed.
Brother Lawrence Damien Cos
[i] Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-9, Luke 9:19-22
[ii] Matthew 16:13, Mark 8:27
[iii] Luke 9:10
[iv] Matthew 16:16, Mark 8:29, Luke 9:19
[v] Matthew 16:21-23, Mark 8:31- 33
[vi] Joshua 19:22
[vii] Judges 4:6
[viii] Matthew 17;1, Mark 9:2
[ix] Luke 9:28
[x] Luke 9:32
[xi] John 14:6
[xii] Matthew 5:17
[xiii] Malachi 4:5-6
[xiv] Luke 1:17
[xv]Â Revelation 21st and Revelation 22nd chapters
[xvi] John 1:29
[xvii] Matthew 1:22