“This is My Son, My Chosen One, listen to Him!” ― God
“Whatever He says to you, do it.” — Mary
Often our theology can be tangled up in a lot of stuff. For twenty-first century Americans, I think it is a dual problem. Most evangelical faiths tend to lean toward a more literal view of the Bible. That causes us problems because some of the accounts in the Old Testament tell of genocide, slavery and other egregious acts that seem to contradict even what Jesus said in the New Testament. So, we often do this kind-of side step to justify or ignore some things for it al to make sense. The other entanglement we face in our proclivity towards nationalism. Because we believe we are the best, then we can justify all sorts of violence and inhospitable actions because we view ourselves as right and godly and Christian.
The first century Jews would have faced similar struggles – they had their own struggles with nationalism and empire. And, they also struggled with how to treat their Scriptures, namely the Hebrew Scripture, comprised of the Law and the Prophets. During the transfiguration of Jesus, Moses (representing the law) and Elijah (representing the prophets) show up at this monumental event. Peter recognizes the gravity of the situation and attempts to honor all three: the law, the prophets and the Messiah. He knew that is was “good to be here” but he also identified a problem.
In seeking to preserve the lesser things that surround the reality of God, we often diminish the things that God values most. We must admit that the view we have of God is cloudy at best. As we gain a better understanding, we think “This is it—I understand now.” We sometimes call it certainty and it makes us feel good! But, just like Peter, James and John, we sometimes preserve our understanding and certainty at the expense of the truth. Jesus came to give a clear vision of what God is like. So, eventually the Father removes the two distractions (law and the prophets) and draws their attention to Jesus with the phrase, “This is My Son, My Chosen One, listen to Him.”
For me, this gives me a clear direction. It is not that God doesn’t think the law and the prophets are important, but in light of Jesus, they must take a lesser role. Jesus becomes the focal point of history and the lens by which we interpret Scripture. When we see the rest of the Bible as hard to understand, Jesus says “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (love God and love your neighbor). When we start with Jesus (when we “listen to Him”), the focus gets clearer.
Mary tells the servants “whatever he says to you, do it,” because she senses something great is about to happen. She wasn’t wrong! The very next thing Jesus does is turn the water into wine. It was His first miracle and the object lessons for likely hundreds of thousands of sermons. The temptation is to build shelters (give space) to what we already are familiar with. We want to protect and shelter what is good, but we eventually ignore or diminish what matters most (what is best).
Mary and the Father say, “listen to Him.” I am praying today that I have a primary focus. I don’t think Moses and Elijah were there by accident. They were important, but I pray that I always see them and value them through the revelation of Jesus. That’s my prayer today! I want to hear Him say, “love your enemies, forgive them, turn the other cheek…” and let that guide all my other thoughts!