Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s pray.
Lord, we pray that there would be light, Your light in our lives, that we would know that light with ever increasing glory and that that light would shine through us to one another. Father, we pray that You would teach us about Your intimacy today. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear what You have for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
The Scriptures for this weekend very clearly are pointing to one core truth: God designed us to live in intimacy, intimate relationship with Him and with one another. We might ask ourselves how that’s going these days. Back in 1984 a study was done and asked Americans, “How many of you have not had a significant conversation with another human being in six months?” Eight percent of Americans said they had not had a significant conversation in 6 months. In 2004, twenty years later, which is 20 years ago, 25 percent of America said that they had not had a significant conversation with another human being. Right now it is clearly beyond one third. So, do you think we are getting the whole intimacy thing? Do you feel like you have intimate relations with God? Do you feel like you really know Him? That you experience His love? Again, if you trust statistics, 0.5 percent of Americans say that they’re experiencing this supernatural, loving relationship with God. Yet, of course, more than 0.5 percent of Americans show up for church. There has got to be something here for us, that if we would just listen to Him we would know a life that can be ours.
Let’s dive into the Scripture. It’s called the Transfiguration of Jesus. He took His three best buddies, His inner circle of three I like to call it and He said, “Please come away with me”. Now usually Jesus went away on His own to be with the Father, to recalibrate His life with the Lord. You may know what that’s like to just carve out that holy space and to be still and know that He is God. By not carving out that space, we’re basically cursing ourselves.
At this particular time, Jesus invites His three best buddies because it’s time for them to get to know Him better. Have you had times in your life like that with good friends when you said, “I just kind of want to draw away with you, can we go have lunch? Or can we grab some coffee? I just want to let you know a little bit more of the real me. I’m going to let you see in to me.” In-ti-ma-cy. That is one of my mentor’s favorite definitions of intimacy, ‘in to me see’. Of course that is something that I can regulate. I can shut that down or I can let it happen. When I look at all of you, I don’t know if I want to open up and let you see in to me. Because if you really would understand me, you would understand that Jason is a sinaholic. That apart from God, I can do nothing good. The good thing about having good theology is that I know that’s you too. I already know you are desperately screwed up. So we can actually start with that because I won’t be shocked by what you share with me. I know you are hiding something. I don’t know what it is right now, but I am willing to love you no matter what. See when you can get that kind of love going, like the love that God has for us, who says that I am going to love you no matter what, aren’t you glad? Even when we push Him away. Whenever we push away the Spirit, we call that sin. What do we do with sin? We confess our sin, then we repent, which literally means ‘to turn’. Then we walk by faith again, we walk in the Spirit.
For Jesus, this was a special day. He led them up to a high mountain. They are definitely by themselves now. There is a lot of cool imagery that reflects not only Mount Sinai, because God always does cool stuff on high mountains. I don’t know if the anticipation was building. I don’t know what they were feeling. I don’t know what was going on, but it was cool. We are told in Matthew 17:2, “There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light” What a moment for the disciples, when they saw full glory. And just then His Old Testament friends showed up. Moses and Elijah were there too. You see, this was Jesus not wanting to scare them. This is the real Jesus, who is Holy. When you are in the presence of holiness, I think the instant reaction should be bowing down. Shouldn’t we be convicted of ‘I am not like you Lord’? Have you had a transfiguration moment with the Lord yet? Is Jesus just your Savior and friend like with the disciples? They had a teacher and rabbi relationship. That day changed everything. Especially for Peter, James and John. Of course on the back end, he says not to tell anyone. They can’t believe it. They want to tell everybody. He says not to tell anybody until He rises from the dead. He’s already foretelling, already prophesizing what’s going to happen.
Do you have anybody in your life that you are willing to be intimate with, willing to let them see in? Here is what I know for sure, that unless you cultivate your intimacy with the Father, unless you spend time with Him, God’s love won’t move through you. It’s only God who gives me the courage to be real with you. There was a time, a long time ago, when I would have hid from you. How many of you are in that spot right now? But you see, the love of Jesus frees us up. I don’t have to pretend because His love has made me whole. I am at peace, I know the shalom of God. I don’t have to pretend. Because no matter what you think of me, He loves me. Have you ever connected to the love of God like that? Because when you do it changes absolutely everything.
Principle #1 is “God wants to be intimately known!” God is not a detached and distant deity. He died for connection. We are told in Scripture that Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. Guess what was lost. Intimacy with God. Connection with God. When we decided to sinfully go our own way. That was the most precious thing, the presence of God. Can you imagine going deeper and deeper into that journey with Him? For that is God’s vision of what the journey should be like for all of His disciples.To grow to the fullest and the stature of all that is Christ. And Christ knew complete intimacy with the Father.
Do you remember the moment that Jesus got disconnected? Remember Him on the cross and He said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Our sin, the sin of the world was placed on Him and instantly he says, ‘Where did you go?’ Who would ever want to live in this kind of relational dynamic? Us, we want to do our own thing. He’d only ever known that. And this is something I can guarantee you, if you know that transfigured love of God, you become clear on one thing; nothing on this earth compares. Nothing. It doesn’t even come close. But so many people, again if you just believe statistics, are stuck in religion. We are stuck in just going to church. We’ve got the Jesus loves me, ABCs and 123s. We don’t know if we know Him. We don’t know if we are doing anything proactive, as the Spirit guides me, to follow Him, to pray to Him, to read His word as He speaks back to me, in a daily, regular way. When we don’t, guess who misses out? We do. Then my wife does, because if I am not abiding in Him, there will be no love going towards her. And my kids do and then you do. Do you see how this works? If you abide in Him and He in us, we will bear much fruit. Apart from Him, we can do nothing good anyway. So the call, be clear on this, is to intimacy.
Loneliness is at epidemic levels right now in America. Depression rates are at all-time highs. Welcome to America, “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. If we keep turning our back on God and His offer of intimacy that He is giving to us, it’ll get worse. The good news is that this is why Jesus came. This is why He died. This is why He rose from the dead. That we would know Him. Really know Him.
Continuing in Matthew 17:4-5, “Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters-one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” If you want to really know God, get to know Him. He is God! If you want to know intimacy with Me, get to know my Son. That’s why I sent Him to you. If you want to walk with Me, let the Spirit that lives in you through baptism, bring that love alive in you. Walk in the Spirit and you will live. You will know God and you will be strengthened to be able to love. Again, apart from His love, this is a train wreck waiting to happen. But in the power of God, all things are new. His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.
I love 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” I’m hardwired by God to want love. I am looking desperately, I can’t just turn it off. God hardwired us all and the only place it’s found is in the Way, the Truth and the Life, Jesus Christ. It’s in Him and Him alone. For God is love. That’s why I want to encourage you today; listen to Him and you will live. Of course the opposite of that is true also. Listen to Him not and you will not. Let Him guide and empower your life. Live by faith in Him. Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up. But pride always goes before the fall. So choose this day whom you will serve, our Lord or all the other fakes. The One who brings life or all the deceptions. This is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and He came to save sinners like us. Let’s pray.
Lord Jesus, we’re all sinners who need Your grace. We need Your love. We are so grateful that You came for us. And now through baptism, by faith in You, You live in us. Father, it’s our hope that You would grow us up. That we would stop pushing You away and Your leadership and Your power in our lives that we might know that transfigured, transformed life that we might know You in a new and fresh way. Father, heal our relationships. Make us more like Him. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.