Jesús es el mejor. Jesus is the best.

On our mission trip to Guatemala, I had the special privilege of speaking during the Sunday morning worship service at “The Tracks.” Pastor Walter, the pastor of that congregation, graciously gave up his sermon time so that Pastor Jerry and I could both share thoughts from scripture that might be inspiring or challenging for the congregation. I’ll admit the truth: normally I prepare a new sermon for each speaking engagement I receive, but this time, for various reasons, I reused a sermon I had preached at Mt. Haley a few weeks earlier.

This particular sermon was based on Luke 9:28-36, the story of Jesus’s transfiguration. (You can listen to the Mt. Haley version of the sermon here.) The basic idea of the sermon was that Peter made a critical mistake in this story. When Jesus had a private conference with Moses and Elijah, long-deceased leaders from ancient Israel, Peter suggested that they should build three shelters, one for each of these three distinguished men. Peter’s mistake, I argued, was not offering to build tents for Moses and Elijah, who were “obviously” ghosts or some other kind of apparition. Instead, Peter’s mistake was putting Moses and Elijah on the same level as Jesus: he wanted to build each of them the same kind of shelter.

But Jesus is higher. He is on a higher level of importance than heroes like Moses and Elijah.

When I preached this message at “The Tracks,” the missionary David Beam translated my words into Spanish. Speaking this way is quite exciting; you have to speak in short, clear, concise sentences, and you have to wait for the interpretation to take place before you go on.

I remember looking out over that congregation in Guatemala City, saying “Jesus is higher” several times, and hearing David Beam translate that phrase in exactly the same way: “Jesús es el mejor” – literally, “Jesus is the best.”

the church sanctuary at "The Tracks" after morning worship
the church sanctuary at “The Tracks” after morning worship

Each time David said that simple sentence, the congregation responded in an amazing way: they clapped, they cheered, they called out “Amen.” For a few moments, I had the opportunity to stop speaking and silently rejoice in the people’s celebration of our common Savior, Jesus Christ. Those were some beautiful moments indeed!

It is refreshing to see people who speak a different language and live in a different culture worship the same Lord as we do. It is inspiring to realize that Jesus is Lord of all people and that he doesn’t speak only in English. It is crucial, I believe, to recognize that the work of the kingdom of God is going on all around us, even in other parts of the world.

The great blessing of that sermon, for me, was realizing that God was already at work in that congregation and that they were already well aware that “Jesús es el mejor.” I was not bringing a new message to them; instead, I was reminding them of a truth which they already knew. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time; I was able to rejoice with them as we celebrated Jesus our Savior together.

God is present and active in every situation of our lives. The sermon I prepared for Mt. Haley several weeks ago continued to bear fruit on this trip to Central America. The story of Jesus’s transfiguration sparked imaginations in places as diverse as Mt. Haley Township and the south side of Guatemala City. The power of salvation in Jesus has changed lives all over this world. And when we happen to show up in a place where God has already been working, sometimes we can simply celebrate how God has been present and active in the lives of the people around us, too.

That’s because God is, of course, much larger than we are.

So, then, how has God been at work in the lives of the people around you? How can you join with him in accomplishing his mission in this world? How can you celebrate Jesus with people whom you don’t know personally but who know the same Lord as you?

Jesús es el mejor. Jesus is, indeed, the best.

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