Departure Glory

What is glory? Not the movie. But since you brought it up, lets talk about the movie. The movie Glory is about the first platoon made up of African Americans during the Civil War. Near the end of the movie, their commander, Colonel Shaw, understands that in order for them to get the respect they deserve, they will need to do something almost majestic; something glorious. He volunteers them to lead the charge against Fort Wagner. Many will die. The night before the fateful battle, the soldiers are around a fire, singing their stories. They know they will most likely die the next day. They know that this is about something bigger than one battle; something bigger than themselves. This is about how white people view black people. This is about laying down their own lives so that others can find freedom. This is about glory.

              Luke 9:28-36 is also about glory. About a week after Jesus told them that being Christ means suffering and death – after he tells them that being a follower means following that path – Jesus takes Peter, John and James up on a mountain to pray. And while Jesus was praying the outward appearance of his face became “other.” His clothes became white and flashing like lightning. My guess is that Jesus was filled with the radiance or glory of heaven and it radiated out of him so much so that it actually made his clothes dazzle. Jesus was radiating from the inside out.

              And behold! The word “behold” is intended to grab your attentions. Something that is not the norm is happening here. I mean, you know, other than the flashing like lightning clothes. Two men, Moses and Elijah, were talking with Jesus. Did Peter, James and John get out their “Great Patriarchs” trading cards? How did they know it was Moses and Elijah? Maybe Jesus told them later. Maybe Jesus used their names while talking to them. We don’t know. What is important is that they were there, having appeared in glory, which probably means they came from Heaven. Everything that comes into proximity of the Glory of God reflects that radiance. Kind of like Moses’ face when he came out of the Tent of Meeting. So, Moses and Elijah are talking to Jesus about his exodus. Although the word is used for departure, as in death, among Greek speaking Jews, the word here is probably also intended to hint at the Exodus. The main point is that they are talking about Jesus’ departure – his death; his obedience; his sacrifice. And why Moses and Elijah? Elijah was taken up to God in a fiery chariot. That seems pretty glorious and it puts Elijah in the presence of God. But Moses died before entering the promised land as punishment for not glorifying God.  The common theory is that Moses represents the Law while Elijah represents the prophets. And that may well be, but what if they represent departure – one in obedience and glory and one in disobedience? The choice is before Jesus talking to him about departure.

              The disciples were apparently in some kind of sleep stupor. When they wake up, they notice the glory of Jesus and that of the two men with him. Moses and Elijah get ready to leave and Peter blurts out, “Master, it’s good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles.” It seems probable that Peter is attempting to prolong the experience. He is witnessing the glory of heaven and doesn’t want it to end. As is often the case with Peter, he is speaking without knowing what is speaking about. The whole conversation is about departure, about submitting to the will of God to the glory of God. So, because Peter felt blessed to have been a witness, he wanted that mountain top experience to continue as long as possible. As he is speaking and maybe as a response to his speaking a cloud formed and covered them. The cloud often represents God’s presence and here it is intended to remind the reader of the Mount Sinai event. A voice comes out of the cloud and said, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” And then all of a sudden Jesus is found alone, sans Moses and Elijah. Jesus is the Chosen One. Listen to what he tells you about what it means to be the chosen one. The Christ will suffer and die. Listen!

              What is glory? Glory is giving your life for something bigger than yourself. Glory is being so intent on God that his glory radiates out from inside of you. Glory is about how you depart and what you are willing to depart for. Will you depart in disobedience or in obedience? Jesus knew that he was approaching his death. His face is facing the goal. Jesus is one with the will of God and the majesty, the sublimity, of God is shining through him. Yes, Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. Listen to him. So, what will your departure look like? Listen to Jesus. Depart well my friends. Peace, Walter