“There are actually five Gospels. Did you know that?
They are Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the land of Israel. The land gives glory to God.”
Dr. Salim J. Munayer went on to describe how the sites from the Holy Land point to Jesus as the Messiah. The work of Musalaha promotes and facilitates reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, based on the life and teaching of Jesus.
To be able to walk in the land where so much rich, biblical history has taken place was genuinely awe-inspiring.
There is a truly remarkable story that summarizes so much of the Scriptures. It is a story that does not get enough notice.
For anyone, unsure whether Jesus was God in human form as opposed to a great prophet, or great teacher, or a great person should consider what happened on Mount Tabor as recorded in Matthew 17:1-13.
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”
Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.
This is truly miraculous!
- Jesus’ true identity was revealed – the glory of God was seen.
- Not only that, Jesus was accompanied by Moses who wrote the Law and Elijah who was one of the most important prophets. Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.
- Much like at his baptism, the voice of God can be heard affirming Jesus’ identity.
- Jesus predicted he would die and raise from the dead.
Peter and John both wrote about this experience after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Peter wrote about this moment in 2 Peter 1:16–18, and John seems to be inspired by this moment in what he wrote in John 1:1-18.
What is especially interesting in what John wrote is the following statement:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
– John 1:14
The literal interpretation of this first sentence is that “The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us…..”
The tabernacle was where God’s presence could be found while leading the people to the Promised Land. Now the presence of God was covered up by skin, but the presence of God shone through Jesus’ skin on that mountain where he was accompanied by the one who wrote the Law (Moses) and the prophet who would one day return as a sign of the Messiah’s arrival (Elijah).
A Brief History of Humanity
God, out of His great love created the universe and created people with whom He could share His creation and His love.
God created us with freedom to choose whether we would trust God and His ways or go our own way. We rejected God. From the beginning, God intervened and the promise of a Messiah, a Rescuer, a Savior was given.
God chose Abraham to become a great nation and through Him all nations would be blessed. This is important. By choosing one person, God was choosing all of us.
This great nation became a peculiar people – different from all the other nations.
They had a very strict set of moral laws and ceremonial laws (the book of Leviticus and the laws about the Temple and the sacrifices). By living so differently and winning wars and defeating other nations that were sacrificing their children to other gods, the reputation of this nation spread.
Judges, kings, and prophets all tried to keep the nation of Israel going in the right direction – trusting God and His ways. Often they would go the wrong way and then repent and then be restored.
The Messiah was born in Bethlehem….
“Born of a Virgin…”
If God became one of us, how would he show up?
- A. On a horse riding through the clouds?
- B. Just appear in the desert?
- C. Born of a virgin among the Jews in the town of King David?
The surprising answer is C.
If God were to enter into time and space, it makes sense he would do so with a message from an angel. Even still…
God’s ways are not our ways.
What would you do if God asked you to do the impossible?
What if you were a young Jewish girl greeted by an angel who told you that you were chosen to be the one to carry the infant Messiah?
She was troubled and definitely had questions, but in the end she responded with:
“I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” – Luke 1:38
There are two possible places where the angel Gabriel could have appeared to Mary – either at the well where women would go for their family or at her home.
There is a church in both locations – just in case.
Whether Mary heard from Gabriel at the well or at her home, 9 months later Jesus was born.
Applying this to our life:
- When things do not go as planned, how do you respond?
- What helps you shift towards letting go of your plans and embracing the situation?
- How can recounting the miracles and blessings in your life help you navigate disruptions?
- What is something you are working through right now that could be categorized under “God’s ways are not our ways”?
- How is God showing up for you nowadays in a way you did not expect?