We all experience the fear of the unknown from time to time. If we’ve been laid off from work and we haven’t been given any information as to when we might be able to return, we fear what might happen to us in the future. Will we have enough money to support our families and pay the bills? Will another job come along our way and if it does what will it entail us doing? Will we have the right qualifications for the job? How will it change our lives? If we have lost a spouse we wonder how we’ll make it. What will the future be like without the one we’ve loved no longer in our lives? For those of us graduating, we wonder if we’ll be able to make it on our own. If we’re changing schools, we wonder if we’ll be able to make friends. Will that be easy or difficult for us? If we’ve experienced a life-changing health issue, we wonder what the future is going to be like for us. Will we be able to manage our lives with our new health condition? What changes will we have to make? How difficult is life going to be for us? It’s accurate to say that the fear of the unknown occupies our thoughts from time to time.
But these are little unknowns in comparison to the one unknown that we probably fear the most and that is death. It’s most likely the biggest fear of an unknown that we have. In the Bible we’re given a glimpse into what death is like for those who believe and don’t believe in God, but since we haven’t experienced death firsthand, we’re a little apprehensive. We’ve never known what it is like to exist apart from this body of ours. This body has always been a part of who we are. We don’t know what life is like without our physical bodies. That’s a huge unknown for us. Some people wish they didn’t have to die. The fear of the unknown after death is too much for them.
None of us has a choice in the matter, however. So we might as well come to terms with the unknown of death because all of us are eventually going to experience that unknown—some sooner than others. It is going to happen. The sooner we come to terms with the unknown in death, the better and richer we’ll be able to live our lives now.
The fear of death isn’t an insurmountable fear. If we think about it, we came to terms with those little fears, didn’t we? If we got laid off, we found something to do to make ends meet. God still took care of us. If we lost our spouse or a loved one, tomorrow still came and we went on living. Again, God took care of us. If our health changed, the next day came and we realized we could manage. Life went on. God was there to help us through. My point here is we made it through the little unknowns we experienced in our lives, all by God’s grace.
Now if we made it through the little unknowns with God’s help, don’t you think we can make it through the fear of the big unknown, which is death, with God’s help? Certainly. There is nothing to fear.
This brings me to our text, the transfiguration of Jesus. It’s Jesus’ intention to reveal to three of His disciples and to us what happens to us after we die. Jesus wants to dispel our fear of the unknown about death. We read that Jesus is talking with Moses and Elijah. Moses died about 1400 years prior to the transfiguration, and Elijah was taken up to heaven about 870 years before this happened. Yet they both were still alive. They hadn’t ceased to exist. They were living with God Almighty in heaven.
Perhaps some of us are thinking the conversation Jesus is having with Moses and Elijah isn’t truly real. Or, maybe some of us are thinking that that won’t happen to me. "I simply don’t know what is going to happen to me."
There is no longer any need for any of us to live in the dark. What happened to Moses and Elijah is going to happen to us. We don’t need to fear the unknown of death because Jesus has made plain to us what is going to happen to us after we die if we believe in Him. There is no mystery here. Jesus doesn’t want to keep us in the dark about our existence after our existence ends here on this earth.
Here on earth we’re often times left in the dark. Our government doesn’t tell us what is really going on. A good example of that is the spying activity of the National Security Agency. If it weren’t for a whistleblower by the name of Snowden, we still wouldn’t know the truth about what our government spy agencies are doing. We were under the impression that our spy agencies didn’t spy on American citizens, but we got that all wrong. Our government intentionally left us in the dark.
What about those of us who had German parents or grandparents? Whenever they didn’t want us to know something they would speak in German so we couldn’t understand. Does that sound familiar to some of us? Weren’t they keeping us in the dark? They didn’t want us to know what they were talking about.
What about when tragic things happen to people we know? We aren’t given an answer to the question "why?" We’re left in the dark. We just accept what happens because we have no other choice. We can’t change what happened.
Often times, we are left in the dark in this life. We aren’t privy to knowing everything. But when it comes to death, Jesus doesn’t leave us in the dark. Our text for today makes this very clear. Jesus wants us to know what happens to those who depart this life, and what will happen to us. No secret here.
Jesus plan for our forgiveness was revealed to the world. He didn’t keep anyone in the dark. The Pharisees one time asked Jesus who He was. "Tell us if you are the Christ." Jesus told them plainly. When the Christ died on the cross, He didn’t do it in secret. He was completely exposed on the cross for everyone to see.
When Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to His disciples and many others. He didn’t keep them in the dark. He removed the fear of the unknown from them. If you remember, after Jesus had died, the disciples were unsure what would happen to them. They were afraid of the unknown. But Jesus didn’t keep them guessing and worrying. He showed Himself to them.
The problem is many people wish to remain in the dark when it comes to Jesus and His salvation for us. It’s their fault. They’re not interested even though Jesus has revealed His salvation.
People refuse to accept the transfiguration of Jesus as God’s way of revealing to us what happens after death. People refuse to believe Jesus’ revelation and that’s why they have come up with the silly notion that we just rot in the grave. They don’t believe that we continue to exist after we die.
Let’s not allow their beliefs and hard hearts to influence what we believe. Jesus has made it clear that we will live after we die. There is no reason, then, to fear the unknown of death. It is no longer unknown to us what happens after we depart this life.
I hope the transfiguration of Jesus will bring us great joy as we no longer have anything to fear in death. Jesus has taken the sting out of death.