Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s reading is Luke 9:32–35, where the Scripture tells of this mountain experience with Jesus:    

32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw  [Jesus’] glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)


34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”



It was the year A.D. 1271 when Marco Polo, a 17-year old Italian explorer, merchant, and adventurer, traveled to Asia with his father and uncle. Their 24 years of adventures there were later recorded in a book. During that time, Polo incredibly befriended the Chinese Emperor, Kublai Khan, who eventually appointed him as his ambassador to Europe. Marco was about 20 or 21 when he reached Cathay (North China), and for the next 17 years the Polos reportedly even lived in the emperor’s dominions. Polo also claimed to have been the governor of Yangzhou for three years.[1]

Polo’s claims, however, were not received well at home. They invited a storm of controversy and a barrage of criticism from those not familiar with his exploration and discovery of the new worlds. His account, details, and memories of the trip were often questioned and ridiculed. Some argued that he never went to China at all, noting that he failed, among other things, to mention the breathless sight of the Great Wall, the use of tea and chopsticks, and the ideographic script of the Far East. Additionally, contemporary Chinese records showed no trace of Polo.

As Polo neared death at his home in Venice in 1324, his incredible journeys were in question and his reputation in tatters. Friend and foe alike pleaded with him to recant and to withdraw the stories he had told about the lands of the Far East, including China, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Japan. But, even on his death bed, Polo was quoted as saying, “I have not told half of what I saw.”[2]

When you are amazed at something, nothing will prevent you from sharing what you have seen and what you have heard. Marco Polo’s experiences (which today have been confirmed most likely as first hand experiences) opened his eyes to the wonders of the world beyond his imagination. His writings inspired other explorers, including people like Christopher Columbus.  The Polos loved the people that they had grown to know. They loved the people that they were privileged to serve. And that love would not let them relent in telling the truth, no matter what it did to their reputation at the time.

In our text, we see that same spirit and even much more. As wonderful as the experiences of travel to a new land might have been, they are nothing compared to being in the glorious presence of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world. In our text, Peter was willing to do whatever it would take to stay in the presence of Jesus. He and the other disciples were overwhelmed by what they saw. They didn’t have a full grasp of what was going on. But Peter knew that he didn’t want it to end. What Peter could not see was, of course, the “big picture.” He had forgotten that this “wonder” had nothing to do with his efforts for Jesus, but everything to do with Jesus’ coming work for him and for all.

I can’t even imagine what it was like that day to see the Son of God with His divine glory “peeking through” His humanity. It must have been awe inspiring! But even that was nothing compared to the coming death and glorious resurrection of the divine Jesus Christ. I believe that Peter could have said what Polo did, “I have not told half of what I saw,” and, he would add, “what I know to be true.”

As you read the Scriptures, especially the Gospels, read them with the awe of the explorer, not the cynicism of the modern-day critic. I pray that you even see a glimpse of the awesome joy that Peter and the disciples knew that day, the awesome, even overwhelming joy of being with Jesus.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, in a world of gadgets and P.R., let our eyes and hearts be fixed on Your awesome presence and work for us which is revealed to us in the Bible. By Your Word and Spirit, may we live in the joy of Your presence with us even now through faith, and then one day fully when we see You in glory by sight. AMEN.


[1] “Marco Polo in China Pt. II” National Geographic 6/01, pp. 24-25.

[2] http://geography.about.com/science/geography/library/weekly/aa081798.htm

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