Idolatry and the Transfiguration

Psalm 99; Deuteronomy 9:15-24; Luke 10:21-24

“You shall have no other gods.”

Martin Luther expounded on this: “Similarly, one who congratulates himself on his great learning, intelligence, power, special advantages, family connections, and honor and trusts in them also has a god, only not the one true God. The evidence for this appears when people are arrogant, secure, and proud because of such possessions…” (LC, I, 10).

But I presume you know that. And at one and the same time confess it and profess it. For this is true, and haven’t I been arrogant in and devoted to my possessions of body and mind?

Dear sinner, on you the Light of the ages has dawned; the Morning Star has risen in your heart with healing in His wings. These are things into which prophets, kings and even the angels longed to look, and yet you see. Along with Peter, James and John, you will travel to the heights of the Mount of Transfiguration in worship this weekend, albeit with a wary eye toward next Wednesday. You know you will be called on it, all the gruesome filth that lurks in and spews forth from hearts thoroughly corrupt with and in love with self and sin. You know it’s coming, but you are ready to confess its truth. So, it would seem, that puts you somewhere else, on some other plane.

No, we’re not like our neighbors (or so we think). There…there are the real miserable wretches. And all the more so in our age, when party politics and religion seem to go hand-in-hand. I’m on God’s team, we claim. And don’t we think we’re something special for it? They…they haven’t confessed their great idolatry. No, they’re not on our team. And they follow the gods of the age, the “gods from beyond the river,” or simply the gods of their own base desires. Glad we’re not “them,” right?

To tell you the truth, I’m glad you’re not them. But, dear sinner, you are “them.” Idolatry is idolatry. Sin is sin. Stop lying to yourself that you are in a special category because of what you have seen. When Peter, James and John saw the Majestic Glory, they curled up terrified. They were “them.” Stop proudly trying to prove that you are something more or better than the unbeliever next to you.

Instead, love them. During this devotional season we are about to enter into, you may have occasion for prayer and meditation on the priorities of the Christian faith. You may even refocus your eyes on Jesus so that you might persevere in faith and godly living, and triumph with Him. If so, recall how much He also longed for “them.” And you and I, we were no different than “them.” And our hearts are filled with idolatry just the same. But we know Him who has purified us from all sin.

“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). For you.

Matthew Kiecker

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