Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Feb 27 2013 - Mark 9:1-29 – This is my Son ... Listen to him

Jesus took with him his inner circle of disciples, Peter, James and John, and together they climbed a high mountain. There, Jesus was transformed before them, his clothes becoming dazzling white. The astonished disciples then saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus before a voice from heaven proclaimed, "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!" (Mark 9:7). And suddenly they are left alone with Jesus.

This incident follows rapidly upon Peter's confession that Jesus is the Messiah. Now it is God himself who owns Jesus as his Son (a messianic title). We would love to have been able to overhear the conversation between Jesus and Moses and Elijah, but we are not granted that privilege. What is made clear is that Jesus has not come as a supplement to the Law and the prophets (represented by Moses and Elijah), he has come to fulfil them. The command of God that the disciples should listen to Jesus makes him the single focus of the whole drama of Scripture (cf. Hebrews 1:1-3). He is the one in whom the story of redemption finds its end and its new beginning. From now on, the hallmark of the people of God will be that they hear the voice of the Son of God and follow him.

As Jesus came down the mountain with the three disciples, he told them to say nothing of what they had seen and heard "until the Son of Man has risen from the dead" (9:9). This saying perplexed them; they could not understand what Jesus was speaking about; only later will it become clear. But from our vantage point in the story it is clear that the transfiguration is an anticipation of that greater and permanent transformation that will take place with Jesus' resurrection. The resurrection is the supreme affirmation by the Father that Jesus is his Son, the Messiah, the one in whom all Scripture finds its fulfilment (see Romans 1:2-4).

Before ascending the mountain, Jesus told his disciples, "Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power" (9:1). This saying also must have puzzled the disciples. This, along with the saying concerning Jesus’ resurrection, act as "book-ends" for the account of the transfiguration. We need to read them together and to interpret each in terms of the other. Jesus resurrection from the dead, anticipated in that mountain appearance, will be the means by which the kingdom of God will come with power.

We are in the favoured position of living after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. We are those who are seeing the kingdom come in power. Maybe it does not always seem that way and doubtless we would long to see more, but all around the world people are being drawn into the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Lives are being changed and cultures are being transformed.

Nor are we to be dumb witnesses of these things. We who have come to share in the resurrection life of Christ, who have tasted of the power of the age to come, are to be those through whom the kingdom comes in power for the healing of a broken world. And maybe one of the key reasons that we see so little of the transforming power of the kingdom at work around us is our own lack of prayer (9:28-29).

Lord Jesus, you taught us to pray that your kingdom may come and that the will of your Father might be done on earth as it is in heaven. Help me to listen to your voice  and to follow you in a life of prayer and of service. May I see something of your resurrection power at work in me and through me this day. And just as the power belongs entirely to you, so may you have all the glory, now and for ever.

Feb 27 2019 - Exodus 16:1-35 – Manna and quail

I like watching cookery programmes on the TV. I particularly enjoy MasterChef. I love the wonderful dishes cooked up by the contestants. Sometimes a contestant will cook quail – perhaps even quail three ways. It seems to be a bird that is difficult to cook well, but a real treat when accomplished.

The Israelites have now been marching away from Egypt for about eleven weeks and are now entering the desert region on their way to Sinai. What must it have been like for the Israelites as they walked with their children, pregnant women and the elderly? Present suffering distorts their memory of their previous life as they cry out, "If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat round pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death." (16:2)

The Lord whom they malign is faithful to his word. He had promised to bring the people safely to Sinai to meet with him and then on to the Promised Land. He will not abandon them in the desert. So why had the Israelites not asked Moses to intercede with the Lord to provide them with the sustenance they need? More to the point, why do we so often doubt God and come before him, or turn away from him, in complaint rather than coming to him in faith with our requests?

But God is faithful even when his people have lost faith. He promises that he will send them bread and meat from heaven. Again, they need only to stand and see the salvation of their God who has compassion on them in their need.

I'm not sure how they got on with cooking their quail. It probably would not have passed the MasterChef test; nevertheless they had food to eat – food enough for every one of the children of Israel. They were instructed to collect all that they needed daily but to collect twice as much on the day before the Sabbath. On the Sabbath day there would not be any manna. They were fed by God's hand and needed to learn dependence and obedience – "Give us this day our daily bread."

Jesus spoke of himself as the bread of life that had come down from heaven to give life to the world. The manna in the desert sustained the Israelites for a while but ultimately they all died. Jesus is the one who satisfies the hungry soul and gives life that will last for all eternity. We need to feast on him and be satisfied with him. He provides delights infinitely greater than the best MasterChef cuisine!

The apostle Paul had determined to help the poor in Jerusalem by organising a collection from among the richer Gentile churches around the Mediterranean. In writing to the church in the wealthy trading city of Corinth he says:

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: 'The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.' 2 Corinthians 8:13-15.

Paul quotes from the chapter we have read today, from Exodus 16:18. He uses the example of the way God provided for the needs of each of his people without allowing any to gather an excess. God encourages us to share the good things he has given us with his others who are in need. There is enough for all. How does this challenge our lives today?

Heavenly Father, we thank you for Jesus, the bread from heaven who came to give us life for all eternity. We thank you for all your daily blessings. Help us to share the riches you pour upon us with those in need and especially to tell them of Christ in whom they may have life.

Peter Misselbrook