West Point Grey United Church
Feb 11, 2024

Chance, Choice, Destiny

Mark 9:2–9

Chance suggests to me an element of luck. We become actively involved in some way and have great hope of  winning, although we have no assurance that what we hope for will ever be ours. Chance includes something  as simple as games of Bingo, Mahjong or the Lottery but it can be as serious as it was for every free man in  Ancient Athens who by choosing the wrong coloured stone was called into service for the state. This service of  indenture has been ironically referred to as “Choice of the Gods”

Destiny on the other hand, is when we see ourselves as having no ability to change what is bound to happen  to us in this life. Fortunately destiny quite often suggests that we have someone or something looking out for  our welfare. We need only to think of a time when because of our actions, something could have gone terribly  wrong but for some reason it didn’t and we feel blessed by fate.

Then there is choice. We consciously chose our path, often making the wrong choices along the way. We can  live a life of despair or we can choose another path of faith in action, set out for us by those who have gone  before.

Jesus, at this time in his ministry, knew that the Cross stood before Him and He was confident that He would be triumphant. He asks His disciples “Who do you say I am” and Peter answered “You are the Christ”.  Encouraged by their understanding He tells them that He is “The Son of Man” who must be rejected by the  elders, chief priests and teachers of the Law, He must suffer many things, be killed and after three days rise  again.

He then called to the crowds and said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his  cross and follow me”

The disciples who now believe that Jesus is the Messiah must have been confused. The Messiah that was to  come was to come with power and in glory and there was neither power nor glory in what lay ahead for them  as disciples, only shame and suffering. They had grasped that He was God’s Messiah but they had not  understood just what that meant. They still vowed to stay with Him to the end although they were told they  could not go where he was going.

A week later as Jesus and his closest disciples, Peter, James and John are talking and walking on their way to a  quiet place on the mountain to pray, away from the crowds, Jesus shared once again what he knew lay  ahead. Perhaps He realized that His followers were still far from realizing just what He had meant when He  claimed to be the “The Son of Man” and He did not want them preaching their own ideas and causing an  outbreak of violence. He wanted to impress upon the disciples that if they were to serve God they must also  serve man. He told them God’s Kingdom on earth would only come after He was gone and in order for them  to continue His work , He wanted them to understand that God’s Kingdom is revealed where God’s will is done  with perfect submission. They were to pray for the arrival of the Kingdom and be ready to take the sacrifice  along with the glory. Jesus needs to know if anyone comprehends who He is?

Did Jesus go off alone then to pray that the disciples may have their eyes opened to behold heaven’s host?  Did He pray they would have the strength they would need in the days ahead. Did He pray that the road He  had chosen was God’s will for Him and for the support of his followers so that He would be able to sustain His  self-surrender, faith and Sacrificial Obedience ?

What happens next is written in the three gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Gospels full of hope and glory.  Transfiguration is a mystery just as love is a mystery

There He was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world  could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses who were talking with Jesus” (Mark 9:2- 4) 

After the initial shock of seeing Moses, and Elijah, the great representatives of the Law and the Prophets, in  conversation with Jesus, the disciples would have remembered the lessons they had learned in the synagogue about the founders of their faith. Moses the greatest of the lawgivers and Elijah the first and greatest of the  Prophets had called upon the Lord and then had run away and hid in the wilderness where God searched  them out and called them to the service of all mankind. We have read that both men were chosen, both had  tried to escape their calling as servants of God, both men had parted the waters and climbed a mountain and  heard the voice of God. And yes, both had disappeared and here they are, still alive because our God is the  God of the Living and not of the dead.

There came a cloud overshadowing them and a voice saying “This is my Beloved Son, Listen to Him” And  hearing the voice gave testimony to what they held in their hearts.

In Jewish thought the descent of the cloud is a way of saying that the Messiah had come. The disciples having  seen the Glory of Christ fell down in fear. All hesitation and doubt left them. They now believed that the things  for which they prayed had come to them from God Himself.

Their thoughts of God and their knowledge of Jesus fitted exactly together and made complete sense. God  Himself was present in the world in the person of Jesus. It may have been the moment when Jesus was  assured that his choice was the right one because all history had been leading up to the Cross.

They found themselves alone with Jesus once again. They still had many questions but they are told not to  speak of what they have seen and heard until the time was right.

Do we believe Christ’s birth, baptism, death and resurrection brought God’s Kingdom on earth? Knowing our Lord seeks our obedience and will never let us go once we have chosen Him as our Saviour, the question that  each of us must answer for ourselves is this. Do I believe God’s Kingdom has come and am I using the gifts I  have been given to make the Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven?

We have the choice to reach out, teach kindness and forgiveness, show love and compassion so that many of  the world’s wrongs can be righted. As Christians in this world with the help of God the Father, the Son and  Holy Spirit we are asked to choose life, choose love, choose obedience, choose service and when necessary  choose sacrifice. 

Thanks be to God