When frustrated with ministry work, it's important to remember that God equips us in our ministry calling, and that His presence is what brings lasting change in people's lives.
By Jim Scott
This quarter, we focus on Jesus as the Soon-Coming King in our weekly devotional series. This week's devotional comes from Luke 8 - 12.
No doubt we have all felt the frustration of human failure in ministry. Jesus’ disciples felt it. His teaching about the power and authority of the kingdom of God continually challenged them. His words often startled them, like the time He said: “But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:27, NKJV).
Eight days after making this statement, Jesus took Peter, James and John up on the mountain to pray and to fulfill his prophetic word concerning the kingdom. Jesus was transfigured; Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke with Jesus. As the disciples grappled with what they had experienced, God spoke from a cloud and declared, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!”
The expression, “This is my Son,” must be understood in light of its Old Testament use and meaning as a coronation statement or an enthronement declaration. It signals that God has appointed this person who is called His son as king. It was used with Solomon and the Davidic lineage in 2 Sam. 7:14.
God was emphatically declaring that Jesus is the King and His Messiah. This is further indicated by the presence of Moses and Elijah who, as they spoke with Jesus, identified His rule and reign as King of the kingdom—“kingdom” meaning the Mosaic Covenant and the kingdom for which the Jews were eagerly waiting.
The lessons for us are found in Peter’s response and what happened when they returned to the bottom of the mountain.
Peter, probably out of fear and uncertainty (Mark 9:5 - 6), said, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles…” Were his motives selfish? Did he want to see the kingdom of God fully established immediately? Or did God have another intention in this revelation?
These questions strike at the heart of God’s purpose in revealing Jesus in His glory as King and Son, and this purpose was not to build dwellings and stay there forever. For, on the next day, they came down the mountain, and there they met their defeated brothers, a distraught father and a demonized boy. The father begged Jesus to deliver his son from his demonic torment, for His disciples were unable to cast it out.
Jesus’ response was strong and corrective: “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you?” Jesus then rebuked the spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father (Luke 9:40 - 45). What joy and amazement!
"Faithless and perverse," Jesus called them. The disciples had been with Jesus and experienced His power over sickness, death and the demonic as He ministered throughout Israel. They had been sent out to preach the kingdom of God with power and authority “over all demons and to cure diseases” and to “heal the sick” (Luke 9:1 - 2).
Peter, James and John had just experienced Jesus in His glory as the King and as Messiah. Yet they were all equally unable to minister in the power of the kingdom in the face of the demonic.
Perhaps Peter’s hope to remain and enjoy the blessing is indicative of the dangerous reality that a disciple might fail to understand: Encountering the King is more about equipping the disciple to do the works of the kingdom, and less about building tabernacles to enjoy His presence.
In our lives, there will always be challenges like the demon-possessed individual at the base of the Mount of Transfiguration. But Jesus expects that we will be equipped to minister in the power of His kingdom—because we have been with Him.
By: Jim Scott, vice president of global operations and director of Foursquare Missions International
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