Sunday March 13, 2022 The Second Sunday of Lent (Cycle C)
The tie in between today’s readings: Focus on the Eternal.
Fear is the anticipation of loss. We are afraid of losing our job, our house, our spouse, and death is the worst fear of all because you lose everything all at once. So, we eat right, invest our savings, buy insurance to protect our stuff, and maybe for everything else a Glock in the bedroom may help some sleep better at night. But our best efforts are no guarantee of stopping the runaway train of future events from crashing into our lives. Fear is always looming. We need someone who knows the future, that can protect us from its dangers, and most of all, cares. Anyone come to mind? God checks all the boxes in Psalm 27. Verse, one says that He is our light (guide), a stronghold (defender) and verse ten guarantees His love and fidelity. David testifies to his Savior God’s delivering hand against his enemies. He wants us to anticipate the goodness of the Lord and wait for Him with courage. Courage doesn’t deny our fear, but with the right understanding, courage allows us to overcome it. OK, so what’s the right understanding?
Genesis 15 starts off with God telling Abram not to fear. God, Himself, is his shield and exceedingly great reward. God is the reward, not the stuff that God can give you! Abram shows that he’s not understanding it when he says, “God what will you give me seeing that I have no heir?” Now the name Abram means Exalted Father, so, being childless, he’s been going around with this joke name all his life. Abram see his loss of dignity, loss of family, loss of future, all of which concludes in: FEAR! God assures Abram that his family will be as the stars of heaven. Abram trusts the Lord and the Almighty seals the deal with a “swear to God” oath. Jehovah tells Abram about his descendants and the Exodus, probably to make the prediction seem more real. The Patriarch’s faith grows through a series of up and down experiences. Finally, in Genesis Chapter 22, God challenges His friend, Abraham. “You know that boy, Isaac, I gave you, Abraham, the one with all the promises attached? I want you to give him back to Me.” You could write volumes about this episode, but in the end, Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son and passed the test. Abraham has the courage to give up the heir that was so important to Abram, his former self, because his focus has changed from the immediate to the eternal. No matter how important anyone or anything is in this world, when God is your permanent reward, everything is as nothing in comparison. When you have nothing to lose you have no fear, a challenging way to live for all of us.
For Peter, James, and John in Luke 9:28-36, it’s another “go with Jesus” trek up a mountain to pray. This time it’s different. A deep sleep falls upon them and when they wake up, they are surprised by “Lighthouse” Jesus standing there with Moses and Elijah. They are talking about of all things: Jesus’ upcoming EXODUS (the Greek word used in the text for: departure) in Jerusalem! God’s reference to Abram in Genesis 15 is taking on a deeper meaning. Now THE descendant of Abraham is about to go through the Passover as the Lamb of God and open the way to lead the spiritual children of Abraham to heaven: the actual Promised Land. It doesn’t get any more real than this! Peter may not understand what’s happening, but he doesn’t want the moment to end, another fear of loss. Peter wants to take over. The Judaism “Hall of Fame” is in front of him, and he is not about to let it go. He is ready to pitch tents and keep the Kumbaya moment going forever. God the Father comes to remind them that this is: My Son, the Messiah. He has a mission, and He is the Boss! They go back down the mountain with regular Jesus. Maybe a little embarrassed, they agree among themselves to just not talk about it just yet. Of course, we look back and comment on how ridiculous Peter’s whole idea was, but it may reveal something about us. We have a wish for God to be manageably contained in a box, subject to the constrictions our thinking. This could mask the biggest fear we have about the Almighty: the fear of losing control. We want to say like Peter, “You are the Christ,” and then add, “No! Lord! It shall not be!” (Matt 16:22). To really gain God as your reward and fear not, you have to let go of yourself, gain the courage to change, and be remade in His image. You were never in control anyway.
“Fear not” is a repeating theme throughout the Bible. There is one place, however, that Jesus does tell us to fear. “Fear Him who can destroy body and soul in hell.” (Matthew 1:28). There is an ultimate loss at the White Throne Judgment Seat of God where all sinners are condemned. That’s what should be keeping you up at night. But “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that you should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). Get serious with this! The allure of this earth will fade along with its fears as you claim your new position as a child of God and a true descendant of Abraham. Your Father will transfigure your body to be like the glory of His Son (Philippians 3:17-4:1) on that Great Day and you will realize God as your reward in its fullest sense. Until then, we stand courageous in the power and promises of the Lord who loves us. “Perfect love casts out all fears.” (1 John 4:18). Apply all that it means to take Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior in your life. Considering all that you have to gain, what have you got to lose?