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