For Jesus, glory is through suffering, by way of the cross.
JANUARY 29, 2024
For Jesus, glory is through suffering, by way of the cross. Let’s talk about it on Key Life.
This is Key Life. We’re here to let you know that because of what Jesus has done, God will never be angry at you again. Steve invited our friend Justin Holcomb to do the teaching this week. Justin is an Episcopal priest, an author, and professor at Reformed Theological Seminary.
Thank you Matthew. My name is Justin Holcomb and I have the joy of teaching this week. This week we are looking at the apostle Peter and what we can learn from him. He is the apostle who is frequently named first in the list of the apostles and Jesus leaned on him. He was in the inner circle with Jesus from the apostles and the disciples and he’s the impulsive one. He’s the one who frequently would speak up and say things that he later regretted. And he’s the patron saint for Key Life, basically. Today we’re going to be looking at the Transfiguration. I’ll be reading from Mark 9. This is in some of the other Gospels too, but Mark 9: verses 2 through 20.
Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah and Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” but he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. And they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean.
I love this passage. This is the first episode that we’re going to be talking about this week. Peter wants to bask in the glory of Jesus’ shining face. He wants a Messiah that’s going to be strong and radiant and this whole idea of a suffering and dying Messiah is not what he had in mind. It just ends there. They’re wondering what this rising from the dead might mean. And we know that Jesus, when he talked to Peter earlier, that Peter got it right. He said, who do you say I am? And Peter said, you’re the Christ, the Son of the living God. Peter nailed it. But when Jesus explained that the Christ was to be killed, Peter freaks out and says, I’ll never let them kill you. And so, Jesus ends up rebuking Peter with about as strong a sentence as you could say. Get thee behind me, Satan. So Peter regularly gets it wrong, but he is, he is wholehearted. He’s all in. Here’s another one at the Transfiguration. He just got who Jesus was and Peter was told by Jesus that there’s a dying that’s going to take place. And so, after that encounter where Peter got it right, you’re the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus takes Peter and these two others up a mountain to pray. And then amazingly, Elijah and Moses appear to talk to Jesus. And Peter’s first response is to make tents so they can all hang out. I mean, this is hilarious. I mean, poor Peter. I mean, they’re sitting here talking about whatever they’re talking about, likely the redemption to come. And Peter wants to set up tents so they can just kind of hang out. And first he gets rebuked by Jesus after his confession right before this. And now, he’s kind of the clueless disciple who wants to set up shelters, when Jesus is preparing his march to his death in Jerusalem, he’s just not getting it. And that’s what he got wrong. The Transfiguration was about Jesus’ death and resurrection. It wasn’t to build tents and hover in that moment. And this Transfiguration is a preview of the coming glory in the resurrection after the cross. It’s an astounding picture of God invading the world and imbuing it with his transformative grace. It is not a display of glory and power in the way Peter thought of glory. Peter’s understanding of glory was different, upside down from our Lord’s picture of glory. Because our Lord’s picture is a glory through suffering by way of the cross. After the Transfiguration from here on out in the rest of Mark, Jesus is marching to his death in Jerusalem. He’s marching to the shameful cross, which he will Transfigure that into glory. The accounts of the same story in Luke says that Moses and Elijah were talking with Jesus and then Jesus again, and here and Mark in there, he’s talking about death and rising, death and rising. And throughout his ministry, Jesus avoided popular messianic hopes that called for his instant enthronement, which would be glory without suffering. That was the temptation Satan brought to him. And instead he was going to fulfill the task of glory through suffering, Jesus going to the cross is God’s choosing the way of weakness. This is Philippians 2 type of sensibility. The cross redefines God as one who is willing to not grab onto power in the way we know power. And he relinquishes our understanding of power, the worldly understanding of power, for the sake of love. Philip Yancey writes.
Power, no matter how well intentioned, tends to cause suffering. Love, being vulnerable, absorbs it. At a point of convergence on the hill of Calvary, God renounced the one for the sake of the other.
That’s why we like Phil Yancey, Philip Yancey around here. So, through the cross, Jesus is going after the mother of phobias, the fear of death, the fear of guilt, which arise and give energy to all the other anxieties in our lives. Many of our fears and anxieties are only the tip of the iceberg while below the surface are guilt evoking, anxiety producing ultimate concerns of death and guilt. In Jesus, in his cross, in resurrection, he’s attacking our ultimate enemies, the root fears and anxieties, to free us from all the other fears and anxieties. And this all sounds interesting, but how does the cross and resurrection really get to the heart of things? John Calvin said.
That an overdose of fear comes from ignorance of the grace of Christ.
That’s helpful. That puts it together.
An overdose of fear comes from ignorance of the grace of Christ.
So, our question is how is this not just a cheesy platitude? Well, I John says.
Everyone who sins breaks the law, but Jesus appeared so that he might take away our sins. This is love that, not that we love God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
It’s the sinless one on behalf of the sinners. He takes all of the curse and the threat and the consequence of our sin is death. And this is what’s amazing looking at Hebrews 2, it says that Jesus conquered Satan. And this is also in Colossians 2, but Hebrews 2 gets to the fear of death.
Jesus conquers Satan by being an atoning sacrifice to remove the threat of death. The power that the devil has over us is the fear of death.
Go read Hebrews 2, this is how you get to the mother of phobias, of all phobias. Jesus shared in our humanity so that his death might destroy the devil and free those who are held in slavery by their fear of death. He was made to be like us in every way, that he might be an atonement for us in every way. And Jesus’ death cleanses our guilty conscience so we can have confidence rather than fear to enter God’s presence. This boldness in approaching God is the opposite of the fear of death. It’s the opposite of the guilt of sin. It’s the opposite of expectation of judgment. The great reversal has taken place. Freedom has taken the place of bondage and judgment, because Jesus has taken the place of the guilty. And because of that, you’re forgiven of all of your sins. The written code against you and its regulations are canceled. He took it away and nailed it to the cross. This is Colossians. The work of Christ brings deliverance precisely because it brings forgiveness. Sin and guilt were the grounds of Satan’s dominion, the sphere of his power, the secret of his strength. But when the guilty and the sinful have the threat abolished, Satan’s dominion over us has ended, the ground of Satan’s authority or perceived authority was the using of the law against us to condemn us. And that, the pointing out where we violated it in the haunt of that and Jesus is our advocate and says, no, that has gone to me. I’m treated like I violated the law. They are innocent and because I was righteous, and I’m giving that to them, they are declared righteous. Because of his death and resurrection, guilt and sin have no right to condemn you. You might condemn yourselves. Others may condemn you. But for those who are in Christ, there is now no condemnation. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world. That’s glory through suffering, not a glory without suffering. And thanks be to God that that’s what we’ve been given. When anxiety reigns, you don’t need principles, you don’t need more accountability and surveillance. When you just can’t be good enough to stop, you need a lot more than glory without suffering. When guilt swamps you, when you look at the commands and realize you can’t do those in your comforts, not in your obedience. When fear paralyzes you, you can’t rely harder on your plans. You need hope. You don’t need a can do attitude. When you’re overwhelmed, look to the Christ who provides glory through his suffering. Now, hear this benediction.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your cares on him, because he cares for you.
I Peter 5:6 through 7.
Thank you Justin. That was our good friend Justin Holcomb teaching us about Peter, the patron saint of failures. And if you enjoyed that, like I did, I have some great news. Justin will be with us through Thursday. How great is that? Hope you join us throughout this special week. So, January 29th, just about enough time for those new year’s resolutions to slam into the side of the mountain. Hey, we’ve all been there, but it does bring up perhaps a more enduring challenge. Perhaps you’re struggling with issues of doubt and loneliness. Maybe you’re looking for that elusive thing we call contentment. Well, if so, I want you to check out a classic message from Steve called How to Be Content…Not! Get it on CD for free by calling us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. If you’d like to mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Again, just ask for your free copy of the CD called, How to Be Content…Not! Finally, if you value the work of Key Life, would you join us in that work through your financial support? You can charge a gift on your credit card, or include a gift in your envelope. Or give safely and securely by text. Just text Key Life to 28950. And listen, if you can’t give, hey, we get it. But if you’d pray for us, we sure would appreciate it. It makes a big difference. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And Key Life is a listener supported production of Key Life Network.