LISTEN TO HIM!

Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’  For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified.   Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!’ All at once they looked around and saw no one with them anymore, except Jesus alone. -  Mark 9:2-8

The Gospel according to Mark was probably the first of the Four Gospels to be written.  Numerous early sources testify that it was written by John Mark who had become Peter’s helper, particularly while He was in Rome.  Matthew, Luke, and to some extent even John, used Mark’s Gospel as a source and framework for their respective Gospels, adding other material and contributions according to the unique purposes they had in mind.  If Mark’s account is based on the preaching of Peter, as several early Christian sources tell us, then this account can be considered Peter’s own memory of the event.  Peter Himself alludes to this “mountain top” experience in one of his lettersFor we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased’ —  and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16-18)

In his letter, Peter does not include the command of God, “Listen to Him!” but that is because his purpose in the letter is simply to buttress the certainty of Christ’s future coming in glory by the brief glimpse of that glory Peter received when Christ came the first time, even before His resurrection.  But if we go back to the story as given in the Gospels, and first of all in Mark, we do hear this command by God the Father, to listen to His Son.  This command reminds us of what the prophet Isaiah wrote concerning the Messiah who would one day appear to Israel:  “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not be disheartened or crushed until Hke has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.” (Isaiah 42:1-4)  This prophecy says that the nations of the earth will sit and listen attentively at the feet of the Messiah.

One of the results of this attentive listening to Christ will be that those who do so will turn away from violence and war to peaceful and fruitful interactions with their fellow creatures: “Now it will come about that in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it.  And many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.’ For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.” (Isaiah 2:2-4)

This is one of the ways we can tell if we are truly listening to the Lord. If we are fully listening to Him, we will become peacemakers who seek the welfare and not the destruction of others.  We will follow in Jesus’ footsteps, heeding not only His teaching but also His example.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more and more people did that?  What a different world we might be living in if they did!  This may sound naïve and impractical but we have God’s word for it that this is the way it will be accomplished.

Our personal goal should be to listen attentively to Jesus, God’s beloved Son.  We will find His words faithfully recorded in the Scriptures and adapted to our present conditions by His Spirit within us.  The Spirit will never teach us something different from what Jesus says in the Scriptures but He will make sure that we do not miss their application to us today or misapply them under the influence of the world, the flesh or the devil.  Christ, through His Spirit within us, is available to give us specific guidance as to the way we should go as we apply the general principles He revealed through the writings of the Prophets and Apostles.  This too was prophesied long before:  “He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher.  Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” (Isaiah 30:20-21)

The first priority for us is to personally listen to Jesus and with others who also wish to follow Him but the next step is to persuade others to begin to listen to Him as well.  This is what Jesus called us to do when He said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples (learners, listeners) of all the nations…” (Matthew 28:19)  It is amazing what changes for good begin to take place when people start listening to Jesus.  Yes, we must, as Jesus told His disciples, “teach them to observe all that I have commanded” (verse 20), but they will not truly hear or heed His commands until they know for themselves that He is speaking to them, personally.  O, the power of that living Voice!  No wonder Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” (John 5:25)  It is a whole new life when we begin to truly listen to Jesus – and as more and more people listen to Him, a whole new world will be born!