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Living Generously With My Time

Sharing God's Word, Living His Love
Generosity 1

Mark 9:2-9, 14

February 11, 2024

What would you do if you knew the future? Would you share that information with others or would you keep it to yourself? Imagine a doctor checking a series of tests that have been conducted several times, only to find that they all show the same thing – the disease has spread throughout the patient’s body and there is nothing that he or medicine can do to bring healing.  For a moment the doctor is the only person who knows, in a sense, what the future holds for his patient. As the doctor enters the patient’s room, sensing that the patient and his family are looking to him for some kind of hopeful news, the doctor is deeply aware that the information he knows about the patient’s future has placed a huge responsibility on him. 

 Think of an executive in a large business firm who knows in the few weeks that his company will be purchased by a larger corporation. One result, among others, will be a sharp rise in the value of his company’s stock. In his Saturday golf match, one of his friends mentions that he is about to start a college fund for his two small children. He asks everyone in his group what sort of investment they would suggest, and at that moment, the executive feels the weight of future knowledge. Should he tell his friend about the upcoming merger? His friend is not some kind of market expert who is seeking insider information; he is simply a father who is trying to provide a future education for his children; and if he tells his friend to invest in his company he could make some nice money, quickly, for his children’s college education. On the other hand, it is illegal to reveal his privileged information. The executive decides not to share his insider information, but for a few minutes, he felt the burden that comes when one knows the future.  The transfiguration of Jesus is also a glimpse into the future. There on top of a mountain,  God the Father showed Jesus to Peter, James, and John in a very different light – in a way they had never seen Him before. And they quickly discovered that their friend, Jesus, was not just a carpenter, not just a teacher, not just a healer – He was much, much more.   Going up a mountain with Jesus was not unusual for these disciples. They had done it with  Him in the past. But this time Jesus’ clothes suddenly became dazzling white – whiter than anything in the world. Then Elijah and Moses (from the Old Testament) appeared with them,  which confirmed that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah – spoken of in the Old Testament.  Any doubts that these disciples might have had about Jesus as the true Son of God, I would think  were certainly gone at this moment. In fact, at this moment, it was easy for them to believe that  Jesus came from heaven, because they saw with their own eyes a glimpse of the glory that Jesus gave up to come down to this world to be our Savior. 

It had to be an incredible moment, and based on Peter’s words, he didn’t want this event to end. Life on the mountain seemed pretty nice. There wasn’t any suffering up there, no one was there to bother them, they could have Jesus all to themselves, and the world of sin and death seemed far away at this moment. So in an effort to hang on to this mountain top experience  Peter says in verse 5, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you  and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 

We’ve all had mountaintop experiences in our lives that we did not want to end, such as a graduation, your wedding day, or a family vacation, but they all come to an end and we have to come back down. It is necessary for us to return to the routine of our lives to evaluate and learn from the mountaintop experience. And that’s what Peter and the other disciples had to learn about Jesus’ life. It was not all experiences of glory and amazement. For two years the disciples had seen Jesus do some amazing things. They saw Him heal the blind, deaf, and crippled. They saw Him feed over 5000 people with just a small amount of food. And they saw Him walk on 

water and control nature. But God’s purpose for Jesus also involved the agony of the cross. In fact, mountaintop experiences often occur only in relationship with the valleys of life, because it is in life’s valleys that most of us grow. We grow as a result of having to struggle with wrong and evil. We grow as a result of having to crawl and fight our way out of life’s valleys. I think many of the opportunities that we are presented with in life for growth are never the ones we would choose, but they are the ones we get. 

And so when we reach those peaks in our lives, it is often because of the strength we have gained crawling out of the valleys. This Wednesday, we will begin the season of Lent, and one of the mysteries of Lent is the message that God’s victory in Christ came in the agony of the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross. I don’t know if we will ever fully understand what that means for us, but Jesus’ journey through His valley of suffering definitely tells us something about God. Lent tells us that the suffering of death and the hurt of failure are where we find  God’s presence. God certainly stands with us on our mountaintop experiences and we usually feel closer to Him during those moments, but God is also always with us to hold us up, strengthen us,  and support us as we feel our way out of the valleys of hardship and suffering.  Peter, James, and John wanted to preserve this moment, but we see in our text that as quickly as it started, it ended just as fast. Soon after Peter made his comments about building 3 shelters,  a cloud covered them and a voice came from the cloud saying, “This is my beloved Son; listen to  him.” And suddenly it was over. No more dazzling white clothes, no more prophets from the  Old Testament, no more words from God the Father – only Jesus, standing there with the original appearance He had when He came up the mountain with His disciples.  

This incredible vision of Jesus’ future glory and the voice of God let them know that Jesus was far more than they had ever imagined. But what were they going to do with this knowledge of the future? After all, as soon as Jesus and these 3 disciples made their way down from that  mountain, the realities of “life in the valley” hit them as the last verse of our text tells us, “When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law  arguing with them.” I’m sure we’ve all had those moments in our own lives after enjoying a mountaintop experience, when the arguments between family members started again and the challenges of everyday life hit us even before we arrived home. 

Through God’s Word, we have been given a glimpse of the future – a future that does not end in death, but in life. And we have a responsibility to share that news of the future with others,  that this Jesus came down from that mountain to focus on His mission to save us. A mission that involved climbing up another mountain, yet not with His disciples, but with a cross on His back.  Therefore, Jesus knew that He still had a lot of work to do with His disciples to prepare them for that future, and that would take time. Just look at the time Jesus had given to His disciples to help them grow in their relationship with Him. He had already been with them for 2 years teaching and healing, He then takes some extra time with 3 of them on top of a mountain to teach them even more about Himself, and He will spend another year with them to prepare them for  His death and resurrection. 

 If we are going to have a relationship with Jesus and grow in that relationship, especially when we face challenges and difficulties, then we need to be generous with our time. We need to take the time to be in fellowship with others. We need to take time for worship and Bible study.  Take a look at the yellow insert in your bulletins this morning that’s titled, “Living Generously  With My Time.” Are you willing to be generous in these areas with your time? Jesus was always generous with His time. He never told anyone He was too busy, and He continues to be generous with us even in the midst of our hardships and struggles. We know our future is in heaven, but in the meantime we need to continue listening to Jesus, because in moments of great joy or terrible agony, He is there, always loving, always guiding, and always ready to listen.

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