With all that has been going on with COVID19, you might have forgotten that we are about half way through Lenten season and Easter is about three weeks away. As a part of the Lenten Season, churches all over the world are using the Gospel of Matthew as a reading guide through Lent. With that in mind, I have chosen Matthew for today’s devotion. The passage I am highlighting comes from Matthew chapter 17 and details what is often referred to as The Transfiguration of Christ:
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. 4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” 10 The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” 11 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist. ~ Matthew 17:1-13
In these short thirteen verses there is a lot going on to be sure. But what should be interesting to note, is Jesus taking with him three disciples up the mountain. This is very important and offers a principle for life. The principle is this: Community is essential–even for Jesus. Everywhere Jesus went he was with his community. He was never alone for very long. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane and Jesus was alone praying to God the Father, his disciples were close at hand (sleeping, but they were there!). The only time Jesus ever was truly alone was when he went to The Cross. There he was not just abandoned by his friends, family, and disciples, but he was also abandoned by God the Father. There he experienced cosmic abandonment. In fact, it was when God abandoned him that Jesus cried out, My God, My God have you forsaken me? But that the price He paid for you and me.
What a reminder, especially in a time when we are ‘social distancing’ and isolated from our communities, that because of Christ and His Sacrifice, we will never be totally alone nor will we be totally abandoned. Community and relationships are so important, that Christ paid the penalty in order to heal our relationship to God and to bind us together with one another.
Prayer: Gracious God, during this time of quarantine, & social distancing, may we be reminded that through your sacrifice, we will never experience ultimate isolation. Because of your abandonment poured out on the Cross, we will never be truly abandoned. May we rest in that sacrificial love today.
Dr. Dave Lescalleet serves as the Director Chaplaincy for PruittHealth.