February 7, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 9)

Submitted by Josh W. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Luke 9:28-36

  • What is the significance of Jesus talking to Moses and Elijah, two figures from the Old Testament representing OT prophecies, about his departure?

Jesus talked to Moses and Elijah, two figures from the Old Testament representing OT prophecies, about his departure.  This was significant because Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah and he was the fulfillment of the OT prophecies.  For Jesus to talk to these figures about his departure, “which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem” implies that Jesus’ fulfillment of the prophecies as the Messiah, is directly correlated to his “departure” in Jerusalem, which we know is Jesus’ death on the cross.  The fact that the OT prophecies are being fulfilled in Jesus’ death on the cross means that God had prophesied this from OT times, and that Jesus’ death on the cross was part of God’s plan all along.  This passage also further reinforces the fact that Jesus went to Jerusalem knowing the cross that lay ahead of him.

  • What is the problem with Peter’s response in this text?

Peter suggests making 3 shelters so that they could stay at that mountain and keep Moses and Elijah with them.  He said: “it is good for us to be here.”  But that is not what God wanted. God did not want them to stay away from reality and the problems of their daily lives.  Peter was caught in escapism, retreating from the real world into a “holy huddle,” and not wanting to get involved in the world.  Ultimately Peter was self-centered, just thinking about how it would be good for him to be there, and not wanting to think about what lay in store for him at the bottom of the mountain like a demon-possessed boy, or death on a cross.

  • In what ways am I like Peter?

I often have the desire to retreat from the world and stay away from opportunities to interact with people, to counsel them, to love them, or to help them in the healing process over their sin.  I naturally don’t want to drive into Berkeley so I can meet up with college students.  If it were up to my own desires, I’d prefer to retreat to my cozy, comfortable “castle” that I call home, study my Bible, reflect over how I need to become a more loving person, and sleep early.  Or I’d rather take a few days off, or a weekend off and drive to a nice retreat site and read my bible and a good Christian book, while being negligent of all my responsibilities and not caring about the people that are entrusted to my care.

Like Peter, I would say “it is good for us to be here” completely ignoring all of the sin, hurt and pain that is going on in the world outside of my little bubble.  While it is important to retreat, be renewed, and be refreshed, to do these things while failing to minister to the world is selfish and demonstrates ignorance in Jesus’ purpose and ignorance in the gospel itself.  When I do get those opportunities to go up to the mountain and be refreshed, this should cause me to get excited about coming down from the mountain, so that I can tell people about God, about his glorious splendor, and want to invite them up to the mountain as well.  And so I need to keep going up to the “mountain,” and keep having those spiritual times of refreshing, but I need to keep coming down from the mountain, ready to heal those possessed by sin, having experienced the glory of being in Jesus’ presence.

Luke 9:37-45

  • In what ways does sin “seize” people and cause them to do things that they had not intended, leaving them powerless over their own life?

Like slavery and addictions, sin seizes people and causes them to do things that they had not intended, leaving them powerless over their own life.

When people are seized by media in the form of video games, Korean dramas, TV shows, manga, anime, movies, and pornography, they start to spend more and more time watching than they initially thought they would.  Maybe it started out as “just one time,” but eventually, this little sin grows until it turns into hours and hours until we hear stories of people who spend all their waking hours playing video games, or watching something on a screen, or clicking through illicit websites.  It is not uncommon to hear about someone who spends 8 hours sleeping, 8 hours at school and 8 hours in front of a screen.  Sometimes, this costs people their grades as they start spending less time with school and more time with video games.  Or sometimes it costs them the ability to relate with people as they spend less time interacting with real people and coping with reality.  And if you asked such a person to quit, you might end up receiving the same amount of resistance that you’d get from asking a serious cigarette smoker to just quit.

A relatively minor example of this was during my junior year when I started playing a video game in my apartment that I shared with some of my peers.  I knew I shouldn’t be wasting my time like that with so much to do as a student and as a Christian, but once I started playing I couldn’t stop.  I had to finish.  I was powerless over my life and the desire to finish this game became more important than school or talking with my roommates or talking to anyone. Because I didn’t want my roommates to know I was playing that game, I ended up closing the door or hiding in my room with my screen turned away from them. I did not intend to become this secluded, isolated game fanatic, but I had become powerless over my own life.  Thankfully, I was convicted to delete the game, and once I deleted it, I was no longer seized by it.

It’s because I understand the amazingly strong power of sin to “seize” me and because I know I have an addiction-prone sinful nature, that I establish boundaries and safeguards in my life, so that sin doesn’t have that opportunity in my life.  These boundaries and safeguards are things like internet accountability software, working with other people in the room, working with the door opened, and letting my friends, wife and other people know what I’m doing.  I know that if I ever try to do things in secrecy or if I try to be isolated or by myself, I’m giving sin an opportunity to seize me.  The greatest safeguard is relationships with other people and living a transparent life, being open and honest with what’s going on in my life to my leaders instead of being isolated or hiding.  The more that I try to life an isolated life in the darkness, the more opportunity I give sin to seize me and take me where I do not want to go, and make me do what I do not want to do.

  • How is the father’s love for his son manifested?

The father’s love for his son is manifested through the father’s effort in healing his son. First, he went to the disciples and begged them for help, but they couldn’t do anything.  Then he joined a crowd and calls out from the crowd to beg Jesus for help.  Eventually, it’s by bringing his son to Jesus that the father is able to heal him from his demon-possession.

  • How can I best love the people in my life?

I can best love the people in my life by bringing them to Jesus so that Jesus can heal them from their “possession” or their sin.  I can bring people to Jesus in a number of ways: I can bring them to Bible study or Sunday service where they can learn about Jesus.  I can tell them about Jesus myself.  I can become like Jesus for them by caring for them and ministering to them in the same way that Jesus would.  I can pray for them and intercede for them.  And I’m reminded that this is the best way to love all the people in my life and not just people that are in my ministry group.  The best way to love my co-workers, my extended family, my boss, and even my neighbors is to bring them to Jesus.

Submitted by Cynthia P. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

  • What is the significance of Jesus talking to Moses and Elijah, two figures from the Old Testament representing OT prophecies, about his departure?

The significance of Jesus talking to Moses and Elijah, two figures from the Old Testament representing OT prophecies, about his departure is that it affirmed Jesus’ identity as the Messiah as these two Heroes of Faith symbolized the Law and the Prophets, which basically summed up the whole of the Old Testament.  It was as if to say that Jesus was indeed what the Old Testament pointed to.

  • What is the problem with Peter’s response in this text?

The problem with Peter’s response in this text is that it communicates a desire to stay there on the mountain, in the midst of this kind of glorious splendor of seeing Jesus’ appearance change into something so radiant and seeing Moses and Elijah.  In a way, you can’t blame him, it must have been an awesome experience.  The problem is that the reality below the mountaintop was starkly different.  On the ground level, there was a crowd desperate to see if Jesus could heal this boy with an evil spirit.  The reality below is that there were many people in need of Jesus’ healing, who had evil spirits “destroying” them. This poor boy was completely out of control, manipulated by the evil spirit, tossed and thrown around, in desperate need of Jesus’ healing.  It’s in the context of this picture of reality that Jesus and his disciples cannot remain on the mountaintop just enjoying themselves.

This is timely because our church in Berkeley has just wrapped up our retreat season, having had the college winter retreat a few weeks ago and the Praxis winter retreat this past weekend.  Our winter retreats can be the modern day equivalent of this “mountaintop” experience because through these retreats we get away from our normal everyday life a little and get to focus on God exclusively and experience God at a deeper level.  And this is what we’ve experienced with these last two retreats, not to mention the other retreats at our church plants, such as the Austin retreat and the Minneapolis Retreat.  At our Berkeley college winter retreat alone, we got to witness the salvation/lordship decisions of 100+ students.  And we collectively experienced many more honest confessions, repentance and recommitments.  But now that this retreat season is over for us here in Berkeley, we get to enter into the next phase, which is that of life and ministry back in the frontlines, on the Berkeley campus, in our work places and in our daily lives.  And what’s the reality here?

The reality is that we live in a world of spiritual battles all around.  Even after a powerful retreat like this, I see the battle going on for people’s hearts and minds as I counsel students and see their commitments waning, their emotions fluctuating, and their hearts tempted by the things of this world.  In a way, our church already got a difficult dose of reality too as our church collectively grieved with many members in our midst who are clinging onto God’s compassion.   If this world were all as it should be, peaceful, calm and problem-free, than we, as followers of Christ, would be permitted to just enjoy our mountaintop experiences and remain there forever.  But that is far from reality.  Because the world is as broken as it is, we are called out to bring the good news of the gospel to the broken.

  • In what ways am I like Peter?

I am like Peter whenever I feel tempted to take it easy, to retreat into my little “mountaintop” where I can mind my own business, to want to remain somewhere where I don’t need to worry about the needs of others or can be utterly oblivious to it.  Even as I describe this, I see how ugly that is and it makes me want to wince for times when I am guilty of this.  I need to open my eyes and stare reality straight in the face so that my heart can be burdened by everything that God is burdened by.  There’s a dying world out there that really needs the message of the cross and God’s love.  To remain in my little “mountaintop” would be utterly selfish in this context.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Response