S-1476 TS/3B 2/15/2015 Hymns: (O) #135; (S) #483; (C) #134
Texts: 2 Kings 2:1-12; 2 Corinthians 3:12-13; 4:1-6; Mark 9:2-9
Theme: “Have You Asked God for Something Lately?” (2 Kings 2:9-10)
Question: “How often do you call on God?
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia. The text for the Transfiguration Sunday is from the O. T. lesson: “When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.’ And Elisha said, ‘Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.’ And he said, ‘You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so’” (2 Kings 2:9-10)
Saints in Christ, in the saving name of Jesus pray that the Holy Spirit will enable you to live a life of robust repentance so that the old sinful Adam will be daily drowned and the new Adam through Christ’s pardoning love be strengthened. In the saving name of Jesus pray that God will enable you to discipline your schedule to have a daily encounter with God via the Scriptures. In the saving name of Jesus pray for a double portion of God’s Word rooted in daily Bible study and hearing God’s Word in His temple—the Church.
Beloved, the story before us today is one of the most moving stories of God’s care and love for His people Israel—in providing for them a shepherd who will guide them in the way they should live. On many different fronts, the O.T. lesson is closely connected to the Gospel lesson.
Elijah whose name means = “My God is Yahweh” is one of the heavy weight prophets whom God used mightily to call the Israelites to repentance. He is the one who destroyed the 450 Baal prophets when he challenged them on Mt. Carmel. He is the one whom you heard about in the Gospel lesson today as he appeared with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration to speak with Jesus about His death. Elijah was God’s man and spokesperson to the people of Israel.
The other prophet that is in our story is Elisha whose name means = “My God is Salvation” was called by Elijah to follow him in serving the God of Israel. We do know that Elisha heard the call and followed Elijah and became his disciple. Here is what Elisha did: “So Elisha returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him” (1 Kings 19:21).
Elisha spent much time with his mentor seeing him at work of healing and caring for the needs of God’s precious sheep. The time has arrived now for Elijah to be taken from this earth and to pass the mantle on to someone else—Elisha. As Elisha realizes the time is at hand, asks a most telling question. ‘Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.’ Elisha asked to be a faithful servant of God. He desired to have twice as much spirit power in his heart to be able to carry on the ministry. Christ Jesus has the full portion, for it is His Spirit that He poured out first, and then double on Elijah and Elisha. Elisha was asking for the Suffering Servant to pour out the spirit of faithful service into his life. This is something the same Jesus grants to you this day also, beloved, the double portion of a servant’s heart. Yes, getting back to Elisha, it was by the grace of God he received the double portion of the Spirit and served Yahweh faithfully. Elisha replaced Elijah as Israel’s chief prophet and also performed many miracles through the power of God. He was a servant of the people, demonstrating God’s love and compassion.
Elisha would serve as a prophet of the northern kingdom for more than 50 years, through the reigns of many kings (Jehoram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, and into the reign of Joash.) Elisha’s miracles included purifying a spring at Jericho, multiplying a widow's oil, bringing a Shunammite woman’s son back to life (reminiscent of a miracle by Elijah, prefiguring the son of the Widow at Nain, or jairus’ daughter or even the raising of Lazarus by our Lord – yes, prefiguring the raising of Jesus by the Father on Easter. Yes, and further, Elisha also purified), purifying a poisonous stew, and again, prefiguring His Savior with the five loaves and two fish, Elisha multiplying loaves of bread. All of this was done because he asked one seemingly insignificant question. PAUSE.
How about you dear saints in Christ? What have you asked God for lately? In many ways we are like Peter and Elisha we want to remain and bask in the moment. We think of ourselves more than others. If you are like me most of the time we ask God for personal things. Father, come to my aid and help me in the hour of need. Give healing to my body. Watch over my children and keep them safe. Open for me new job opportunity. Help me to be able to provide for my family. Etc. Etc.
Know the truth and hold it dear, there is nothing wrong with asking the Lord for help. For Jesus Himself taught us in the Sermon on the Mount saying: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). Again, I declare to you there is nothing wrong with asking.
But let me ask you this: “When was the last time you asked the Lord to give you a double measure of His Spirit? ...When was the last time you asked the Lord to use you in the church for His glory and the benefit of others? …When was the last time you asked the Lord to use you as a teacher in Sunday School, Midweek teacher or VBS helper? … When was the last time you asked God to help you give more dollars to support the ministry? … When was the last time you asked the Lord to use you to be present in His house weekly? … When was the last time you asked the Lord to use you in finding the good in the family of faith rather than all that is wrong? … When was the last time you asked the Lord to help you see the wrong that you do, instead of the wrong that others commit? … When was the last time you asked the Lord to help you be a beacon of light to those around you? … When was the last time you asked the Lord to fill your heart with joy because you are redeemed and forgiven? … When was the last time you asked the Lord to help you praise His name for His gifts of this Church, His Word and the preaching and teaching that goes on?
If we are honest, sincere and true; not very often! As I said earlier more often we ask for our personal gains and benefits. But Elisha teaches us to be true and faithful disciples in asking the Lord to give us the gifts to be His men and women to carry on the ministry of the Gospel. Elisha teaches us to ask because he, like us knows that the real answers, the real gifts come not from our efforts but from the GIVER of all good gifts—God Himself.
But not only Elisha teaches us, but so does Jesus. Here is what Jesus prayed for: saying, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!” (Luke 23:46); “My Father is working until now, and I Am working.” (John 5:17); “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5:19); “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again” (John 10:17); “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30); “… I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (John 15:10); “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You” (John 17:1).
As you can see through the Words of Jesus, His desire is to do the will of God; because in Him we behold the faithful and Divine Servant, who serves joyfully and faithfully; and who was transfigured before the three disciples to equip them for the long journey ahead.
But we see it more clearly in the final week of His life as sweat of blood dripped from His brow in Gethsemane where Jesus, like a greater Elisha, asked the greater question of His Father saying: “Father, if You are willing, remove this CUP from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). In His obedience to the will of the loving Father, He endured the yoke of suffering, accepted the punishment on our behalf, was strapped and affixed to a cross until death came—death in our place, placed in a grave, laid in it for 3 days and rose again on the third day.
Now the peace of God.
SOLI DEO GLORIA