At the risk of sounding much too simple, I’ve decided to write about Jesus. He’s always the answer in class, right? All joking aside, I have been reading about encounters that He and Peter had, and this particular week has been about the Transfiguration. If you don’t know what that means, think of a person that you’ve known all your life suddenly change into who they REALLY are. Jesus is both God and man, and as He was transfigured, the 3 disciples with Him got to catch a much bigger glimpse of the divine Jesus.
In Matthew 17, it says that Jesus’ face shined like the sun, and even His clothes were as bright as light. I love the passage in Hebrews 1:3:
And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.
Imagine being one of His disciples, having had encounters with His divinity in the form of miracles (healings, power of weather, raising the dead, feeding people out of practically nothing), but then being allowed to see further into who He was as God. Pardon, who He is as God. He is the radiance of God’s glory, an exact representation of God’s nature. The disciples have been grappling with what kind of Messiah Jesus came to be. They often struggled, like the crowds did, with wanting Jesus to be an earthly king who would rescue them from the oppression of the Romans. Peter had moments of understanding in which he confessed the knowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. But then he rebuked Jesus for divulging the plan of His own death and eventual resurrection.
When Peter saw Jesus in all His radiance and glory, he did what he always does. He stuck his foot in his mouth and said the first thing that came to mind. I’ve got to laugh at this because I’ve done it too. In my haste or even excitement, I can get caught up in the moment and say some pretty ridiculous things. But then God the Father speaks out of the cloud and tells them to Listen to My Son. This seemed to have brought Peter to his senses, because he and the other two disciples end up on their faces before Jesus. I can’t decide what my favorite verse is next. Jesus bends down to touch them and tells them not to be afraid. What a beautiful picture of Jesus. He bends and He touches. See what I mean about simple? Something so simple and yet profoundly important. The very next verse says this:
And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.
What you may not realize is that Moses and Elijah were also present in this shin dig. So we have Jesus, Peter, James, John, Moses, Elijah, and God the Father present in this narrative. After Jesus stoops down to them, they look up and see only Jesus.
Peter had a history of taking his eyes off of Jesus. Remember the walking on water fiasco? He glanced at the wind and waves, taking his eyes off of Jesus. Remember his confession? Immediately afterward he rebukes Jesus for telling them He must suffer and die, taking his eyes off of Jesus. Then we have the transfiguration. Moses and Elijah show up and all of the sudden, his mouth starts flapping as he tries to lay out an agenda for their special visitors and Jesus. Taking his eyes off of Jesus. The Jesus who stands before him with radiant face and dazzling clothes. He missed it again. God bless him. I feel better already.
What does it mean for me when I take my eyes off of Jesus? Let’s say I’ve not slept well for the past month (I’ve got a 6 month old who has decided that 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. are good times to be awake). When I get up, I’m cranky and in a hurry for some reason. I want my older boys to get down to the kitchen “now!!” and by the way, you’d better clean up that mess, and why in the world are you whining again? Taking my eyes off of Jesus. Or try this on for size, I’ve got a to-do list as long as War and Peace, and heaven help the child or adult who gets in my way of completing it. Taking my eyes off of Jesus. This is a confession and not a guilt trip for anyone else who can relate. Trust me.
But what does it look like when I fix my eyes on Jesus? When I lift up my eyes, and I see no one except Jesus Himself alone? If you’re like me, being in a phase with young children, no two days look the same (and I have a feeling this isn’t the only phase in life like this, but don’t rain on my parade…let me hope). It’s not that I haven’t tried to make each day look the same, but my plans don’t work out with what my kids decide to do that day. Starting my day out tired and frustrated that my plans aren’t going as planned is typical. I simply don’t have the power to control all things. That’s when I do something that isn’t really profound at all. As my feet hit the floor, I whisper with my eyes shut tightly, “Lord help me to rely on You today because I know I can’t do this myself.” It’s called recognizing my need and surrendering. It’s called humbling myself. It’s called fixing my eyes on Jesus. There’s no limit to how many times during my day I can do this, and there’s no rule that says I’m doing it wrong when I fail. Fixing my eyes on Jesus doesn’t guarantee that I won’t have trouble. There are times when I want to act out in my frustration and say a sharp word to my kids, and in that moment, I can fix my eyes on Him or I can look away and try to do it my way. Obedience has a lot to do with fixing my eyes on Jesus. Being in His word is part two of fixing my eyes on Jesus. He’s given me His word and told me what is right to do. Am I willing to do what I know He’s told me is right? Will I obey the Father when He beckons for me to listen to His Son?
What about you? How are you fixing your eyes on Jesus?
May we be able to say that we lift our eyes to Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, even as we stumble and fail. He is faithful.
[Now let’s all sing “Fix My Eyes” by For King and Country!]