I don’t know about you but one of the greatest temptations I face is to re-create Jesus in my own image, just so I don’t have to listen to what he has to say. I know I’m not alone. A quick survey of biblical scholarship over the past 50 years and you’ll encounter a whole lot of Jesuses.
We hear that Jesus is a wandering philosopher. Others say that he’s a great moral - even an inspired - teacher. Others see Jesus as a political revolutionary, where others say Jesus is their best friend.
But Jesus says that he is the one who descends from the glory of the mountaintop to the shame of the cross, and then asked us to do the same thing.
That’s hard to listen to. Most people I know aspire to the mountaintop, not to the cross. It’s easier on the mountain. It’s that stuff about the cross that leaves most of us cold.
Lent, we take the 40-day journey with Jesus to the cross. On the way, before the journey’s end, we’ll hear stories of Jesus facing opposition, resistance, cruelty, and death. And Jesus points to us and says, “You’re coming with me.”
Maybe you’re all ready there, down in the valley, waiting for him. Maybe someone you love has been in the valley for so long that you really don’t believe there is a way back out. And even if there were a way, you don’t know if you can find the strength to pull yourself out, much less believe you can climb any mountain.
That’s why Jesus asks the rest of us to be the mountain for you.
There is a character in one of Iris Murdock’s novels that that says, “Saints are those who are able to absorb evil without passing it on.” Just like Jesus. Someone else said that saints are those who, like windows in the church, some of the glory of God shines through.
And I don’t think they mean Saints – capital S – I think they mean us little saints, those who have been called by God through the waters of baptism to be light for the world, to shine in the dark places, to glow with the love of God for all who are brokenhearted and need God’s healing.
I think God is asking us to be mountaintops shining into valleys, so you will shine God’s love and glory upon everyone you meet. God is asking us to blaze like the sun when the lives of those around us go cold.
It is my prayer that you will shine, that you will so manifest the love and power of God, that people are around will say, “It’s good for us to be here.”