“Give me a share of the Spirit,” you pray with Elisha, so that you might be God’s light to all who live in darkness.
Pr. Joseph G. Crippen
The Transfiguration of Our Lord, year B
Texts: 2 Kings 2:1-12; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; Mark 9:2-10
Beloved in Christ, grace to you, and peace in the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Jesus. Moses. Elijah. That’s a powerful gathering.
Moses, Israel’s greatest leader and great law-giver, who woke them from slavery in Egypt and, with God’s Spirit, led them to freedom. Elijah, Israel’s greatest prophet, faithful in the midst of widespread rejection of the true God, who did marvels through God’s Spirit, and for whom a seat is always left in waiting at Passover meals around the world even today.
And Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, God-with-us, in our human flesh, who reveals his divine glory, his clothes dazzlingly white, the Triune God’s light shining from him.
Peter – still reeling from the shame of Jesus’ rebuke a week earlier, and the brothers James and John, witness this. Little wonder they’re terrified. But the offer to build dwellings makes sense. If Jesus is God’s Anointed, God’s Christ, then with the affirmation of great Elijah and great Moses, all would be convinced. Why not reveal this to everyone?
We know that didn’t happen. Within moments, Jesus was alone again, the four headed down the mountain, and Jesus commanded their silence about all this. From here, Jesus headed to Jerusalem and the cross.
But there’s something else you need to notice.
As impressive as these three are, they all handed off their ministry to others.
Moses didn’t lead forever, Joshua took over, and many more after him. Elijah didn’t remain God’s great prophet forever, as we heard today. Elisha took over, and then many more prophets after that.
Jesus didn’t stay on earth forever. He called Peter, James, John, Mary Magdalene, Martha and Mary, Andrew, and millions more up to today, to carry on his ministry.
God’s servants always eventually pass critical ministry on to others, and that means to you, and me, and whoever else hears God’s call today.
But it’s intimidating, isn’t it, to follow such giants?
You can see why Elisha asked for a double share of God’s Spirit that filled Elijah.
Elisha wasn’t greedy. He likely saw all the wonders Elijah did, the trials and sufferings he faced, his faithfulness, and thought, “I can’t do that without a lot of help from God’s Spirit.”
Joshua was also blessed by God’s Spirit after taking over from Moses. And you know about those who first followed Jesus: the Holy Spirit flowed into them and gave them the power and courage and wisdom and gifts to do what God needed them to do.
It is the Spirit of God that empowers the servants of God, not their impressive gifts or resumes. That’s what you need to ask for. Because now God needs you to carry on the ministry of God’s Good News.
Paul declares this, and Elijah, Moses, and Jesus would heartily agree.
Paul says today that people are blinded by the “god of this world” and can’t see the light of the Gospel of Christ, the image of God. The challenges, sufferings, fears, and temptations of this world keep people from seeing the Good News that God has come to the world in Christ to bring life and healing.
But, Paul says, you and I witness to God’s coming by God’s light shining from us. God shines in our hearts to give light to those who can’t see it, by our love, our kindness, our work, our prayers.
Just after these verses, Paul reminds us that God’s Spirit in our hearts is a treasure held in clay jars. We’re fragile, weak, flawed. We make mistakes. We never imagine ourselves to be like Moses or Elijah, let alone Jesus.
But we carry God’s treasure in us, and so, Paul says, “we do not lose heart.”
And that’s really important to remember.
Because it isn’t only Jesus who leaves this mountain to face the cross, suffering and death. All his followers faced great difficulties as they faithfully took up God’s ministry. So did Elisha, and Joshua, and all who are called.
The path of Christ leads the servants of Christ through self-giving love and vulnerable caring for others, through risk and sacrifice. Knowing we are clay jars filled with the treasure of God’s Spirit not only helps you as you know your own weaknesses and flaws. It’s also comfort in the struggles that faithfully serving as Christ will bring you to know God’s Spirit is always within you.
So, you’re going to need Elisha’s prayer for God’s Spirit.
Paul says God doesn’t expect you to be Moses or Elijah or Jesus. God just needs you to be you. God will fill you, and me, and all who wish it, with the Holy Spirit.
And God’s Spirit transforms you to shine with God’s light into a world that is beset by so many things that would crush it. Shining God’s love and grace, God’s justice and hope for all God’s children, with your words and actions and presence.
So, go ahead and ask for God’s Spirit to fill you. You’ll find God’s already within you, God’s light is already shining out of you. People have already seen God’s love through you, flawed as you might be.
And so through you, and me, and so many more, God’s light will continue to shine, and even spread.
In the name of Jesus. Amen