One night while living in Georgia I was ridding home on my motorcycle and I had taken this long winding back road; there were no lights, no signals, no other cars on the road just me and my Harley and the wind in my face. And as I rounded a corner and began to straighten her out it happened, with a small click my headlight went out. In the blink of an eye I was swallowed up in the darkness of that road, now I tell you there is nothing quite as terrifying as speeding down a road completely exposed on a motorcycle with absolutely no light at all – sometimes darkness is terrifying.
But there is a darkness that is even deeper than the simple lack of nature’s light in our world, a darkness more haunting that a headlight going out on a dim road. I’m talking about the darkness that can creep in upon us within our own hearts. Maybe it comes upon us from a deep sense of guilt, of remorse because we could have done more or should have done something different. And as we turn in upon ourselves to find a way out of our own guilt we find that it just gets darker and darker the deeper we look. Or perhaps the darkness is depression, the haunting specter that doesn’t allow us to see the good for what it is. Such darkness can hold us in a world full of loneliness where there is no reasonable answer, no clear way out.
St. Peter was a man who knew the darkness. He knew the confusion and pain of this world; he knew how hard it was to walk as a child of the light in the midst of a world consumed in darkness. Image how he felt on that dark night where he heard the cock crow, that night when he had betrayed his own Lord, when he had rejected the one who loved him so much. To the one who was so patient with him, so kind, so forgiving he said, “I do not know him.” How was he any better than Judas who betrayed our Lord with a kiss? Oh he knew the darkness well, but as we listen to him in 2 Peter 1:16-21 darkness was not all he knew – for this same Peter who knew the darkness of our world knew the true light as well.
It is interesting to hear Peter speak about the transfiguration of our Lord, for we know what happened; how our Lord took with him Peter, James and John up the hill upon which his face begins to shine like the sun and his clothes become white as lightening and Moses and Elijah show up all talking with Jesus and Peter begins to say crazy things like, “Why don’t we makes some tents for everyone.” And then the cloud overshadows that and God himself speaks out, “This is my beloved Son, which whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” But when Peter recalls this experience what he sees it as is a confirmation of the glorious work and promises of God. So when he is speaking about a more glorious day to come about a time beyond the darkness of this world, he says quite literally, “Look I have seen the light, I was an eyewitness to this glorious light on the holy mountain.”
Now here is why I think this text is so powerful for us today. For St. Peter saw this glorious vision long before the arrest of our Lord and Peter’s denial of him. Which means he knows that this was a once in a lifetime moment that they had to come again down the mountain, that there was no staying up there, they had to return to where the darkness of guilt and depression and uncertainty lurked around every corner. The mount of transfiguration was not his destination but was given as a reminder of how to walk through the darkness how to endure until the fulfillment of all things. And so Peter says to you, “We have a more sure thing, the prophetic Word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shinning in a dark place.”
Now Peter knows what he is talking about here, he is telling you that you are not abandoned in your struggle you are not forsaken in your darkness, you have been given a light, a lamp that shines in the darkness, you have the Word of God for you. When we curve in on ourselves trying to fight our way out of our own guilt trying to free ourselves for our own darkness and depression the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ comes shinning as a lamp from outside. Now true that light doesn’t enlighten our entire lives, it doesn’t explain everything we struggle with, it doesn’t give us all the answers. But it is a light that leads to a specific place. Like the headlight on a motorcycle it leads the way, points down the road and gets us to the destination. The lamp that Peter speaks of, this more sure thing is the Word of God that leads you into the arms of his only begotten Son. It leads you to the one who died for you and rose for you for the forgiveness of all yours sins. For your guilt and depression for your confusion and sorrow and suffering his light shines proclaiming victory for you in the world to come.
Now many of you might be wondering how I made the rest of the way home that night on the side of the road. Well another motorcyclist came upon me and he allowed me to follow him to my house, where ridding next to the light he had I could make it all the way home. It wasn’t until the next day in the bright sunlight that I was able to diagnose and fix the problem. The day will soon come when the world is again bathed in light, the day will come when we will see in full glory the glimpse that St. Peter had on the mount of transfiguration. And on that day there will be no more sorrow, now more weeping now more darkness at all. But until that day dawns we have his pure and holy Word. And you know sometimes that lamp isn’t held by us at all but is held in the loving hands of a brother or sister who has come along side of us in the darkness.