Are you familiar with the phrase “one step forward, two steps back”? Its an idiom meant to describe a difficulty in progressing. There are a variety of times in which that phrase can be employed in life, but one we don’t often like to think of is our own spiritual journey. Quite often, instead of a steady climb upward, from glory to glory, its more like slipping and sliding on a muddy hill.
This Sunday we’ll be reading Matthew 17:1-20 and we’ll get a glimpse of God’s glory revealed and then concealed as the disciples endeavor to follow Christ.
The first section, v1-8, provides the account of the “transfiguration” of Jesus. Jesus takes three of his disciples up on a mountain, and there, his appearance changes in front of them – he is glorious. Why do you think Moses and Elijah showed up? What is it that they represent?
When the voice instructs us to “listen to him“, Jesus, what do you think that means in light of who is on the mountaintop with him?
I find it intriguing that Matthew includes the detail that Jesus’ clothes started shining like white light. Why do you think that detail is there? Why would his ordinary clothes be affected like this? What can that mean for us?
When they head off the mountain in v 9-13 the disciples get a lesson about Elijah’s coming before the Messiah. Why do you think the people didn’t recognize John the Baptist as a fulfillment of the prophecy about Elijah’s appearance? What can we learn from that when it comes to our expectations about how God will manifest his glory?
After they return down from the mountaintop experience, they face a different tone in v14-20. What is the key element that Jesus says is missing, which prevented the disciples from helping the demonized boy? What do you think he means by that: they didn’t have faith that the boy would be healed or that they didn’t have faith that Jesus was working through them still, or something else? What leads you to your conclusion?
We’ll get really honest about our journey this Sunday – hope to see you there!