This week we continue in our Legacy series and I hope by now you are seeing that we are at a point of a major shift in the life and Ministry of Jesus.
Up to this point Jesus has focused outward…teaching and preaching to large crowds, to the Jewish people, to Roman soldiers, to the scribes and Pharisees, to anyone who had ears to hear him.
But the Cross is now on the immediate horizon and Jesus turns his focus inward to his Disciples. They would be the ones to carry His message and His mission and they had much to learn.
We see God the Father and God the son begin a series of revelations to the Disciples. Revelations that would confuse them at times but in the end these revelations when knit together would give the Disciples a clearer understanding of Jesus, a deeper commitment to Jesus and a deeper love for Jesus.
All would be needed for what lay ahead of them.
Up until this turning point the Disciples had followed a “teacher”, “a Rabbi”, “a Master”, a “prophet”. They knew Jesus was special, that was obvious by his teachings and his miracles. But their understanding of Jesus was far from complete. They wondered at times...
Who is this that forgives sins?
Who is this that can calm the seas?
Who is this who gives sight to the blind?
The Disciples believed in a coming Messiah, a Messiah who would change everything and return the Jewish people to greatness and rescue them from the tyranny of the Romans.
At times they wondered if Jesus was that Messiah, some even asked to sit on his right and left when he came into his rule. But they heard others saying he was Elijah, and still others that Jesus was Moses returning to the Jewish people.
Oh the disciples believed in Jesus, but WHAT they believed about Jesus, their understanding of Jesus was still very much” in process” and it was the “unveiling” of the true Jesus that God the Father and God the Son would focus on from now until the Cross and through His ascension.
This major shift started with the event we studied last week when Peter made a confession of who he thought Jesus was. When asked by Jesus who the disciples thought Jesus was…it was Peter who confessed for all to hear…
Matthew 16:16 (NIV)
16” …You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus confirmed that this revelation could only come from God, confirmation that God had indeed begun the unveiling of Jesus.
The event we will look at this week is referred to as the”TRANSFIGURATION” and the transfiguration of Jesus in front of his Disciples would be another step of unveiling the truth of Jesus to his Disciples and ultimately to the World.
The Transfiguration is found in all 3 of the Synoptic Gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Volumes have been written on this event trying to understand and explain all the meanings of the different occurrences.
· Explanations of the timing and that it may have been timed by God to coincide with some special feasts of God’s people.
· Speculation on which Mountain the transfiguration occurred and did that mountain have special meaning?
Because of the supernatural nature of this event, some have postured that this was an allegory, or a story given by the Disciples in order to give credibility to the Disciples understanding of who Jesus was.
In other words, some said… Peter James and John made this story up to confirm their already solidified understanding of Jesus, but we will see that Peter addresses this specifically and points to just the opposite.
Peter directly states that this was not made up to affirm the Disciples understanding of Jesus. This event was key in SHAPING the Disciples understanding of Jesus!
And we will see why…V1…
Matthew 17:1 (NIV)
1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
All the Transfiguration accounts begin with Jesus taking His three closest disciples to be with Him alone on a high mountain;
Luke has “8 days”, but this is easily explained by the different ways that days could be counted. The exact time does not seem to have any real significance so we can say “within a week”
Within a week of what? Within a week of the event David lead us through last week and specifically within a week after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ.
Remember Peter’s confession was the beginning of a turning point of Jesus Ministry. Peter’s confession was the first “unveiling” to the Disciples. Matthew is recording that “Within a week” another major unveiling occurs.
V2 records this unveiling…
2 And He (Jesus) was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.
The word used here is the word we get Metamorphose from, it means to “transfigure”, “transform”, to “change in form.”
Jesus, himself was transfigured right before the Disciples eyes.
His garments became as white as light- Mark adds that this was “beyond anything seen on the earth.”
This transformation was done in front of the Disciples. It is important to understand that in seeing this Transfiguration, the Disciples actually got to see some of the Glory of Jesus as He had existed BEFORE he came to earth.
John confirms this about Jesus…
John 17:5 (NIV)
5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
Jesus had the Glory of God in Him before creation and He would have that Glory again after His resurrection.
Peter James and John got to see, at least in part, the Glorified Jesus and seeing that GLORY was a game changer for the Disciples.
This whole event seemed to be orchestrated FOR the Disciples! Apparently God thought that the Disciples seeing, experiencing the GLORY of Jesus was important to their understanding, important to their faith, and important to their Mission.
Peter James and John experienced the Glory of Jesus !
But there is more…V3
Matthew 17:3 (NIV)
3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
All of a sudden Moses and Elijah appear and they are talking to Jesus. Luke clarifies that they were talking about Jesus coming suffering.
Why Moses and Elijah? Again lots and lots of possibilities have been suggested.
Some suggest that these two plus the disciples represent all of the people who will be in Heaven…
- Moses- Represents the people who have died
- Elijah- Represents the people who will be taken to Heaven and not see death
- The Disciples- Represent people who will be present in physical bodies
Other connections Between Moses and Elijah…
- Both were men of God in times of great transition of the people of God.
- Moses introduced the covenant and Elijah renewed adherence to the covenant
- Both experienced visions of God’s Glory Moses- Mt. Sinai and Elijah at Horeb (HORE- ABE)
Many of these connections are interesting and possible, but they are speculation.
Here is what is not speculation and seems to be the major point of why these two were there and the importance of what would happen next on the Mountain top.
Both Moses and Elijah played huge roles in the story of God
God used Moses to introduce the LAW to His people…
John 1:17 (NIV)
17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Yet Moses had spoken of a greater prophet yet to come.
Elijah represented the Prophets and was to be the forerunner of the Messiah-
Malachi 4:5 (NIV)
5 "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.
Moses represents the “LAW” and Elijah represents the “PROPHETS” That is why these two are present with Jesus
Watch how this comes into play as the story continues…V4…
Matthew 17:4 (NIV)
4 Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters (tabernacles)--one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah."
Peter sees Moses and Elijah and offers to build ( 3) Tabernacles one for Moses, one for Elijah and one for Jesus.
Don’t write this off as Peter just being Peter. Understand the significance of this, Peter does what probably any other Jew bold enough to do anything would have done…offers to build Tabernacles to honor these 3 men.
Moses and Elijah represented GOD to the Jews. God up until this time revealed Himself to His people through the LAW and through the PROPHETS. Standing before Peter are 2 of the biggest players in all of Jewish history! and now they are together with Jesus, obviously another major player in the Story of God.
In offering to build each a tabernacle Peter was honoring all 3 of them.
I think it made perfect sense. In fact it actually FORESHADOWS the importance of what happened next…V5…
Matthew 17:5 (NIV)
5 While he (peter) was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!"
God now speaks into this event and He speaks a title over Jesus.
God had spoken this title over Jesus before, when Jesus was Baptized.
Matthew 3:17 (NIV)
17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
But this time it was different, the pronouncement of “sonship” at Jesus Baptism was to IDENTIFIED Jesus.
On that mountain top Peter had offered to build Moses, Elijah and Jesus a Tabernacle as if all (3) were equal. God speaks into this and in doing so confirms that Jesus is greater than either Moses or Elijah.
The pronouncement at His Baptism was to IDENTIFY Jesus, This pronouncement was to ELEVATE Jesus!
Up to this point in history the LAW and the PROPHETS were the revelation of GOD to the people of God but with the coming of Jesus there was a NEW revelation of God and this revelation of God was greater than the Law and greater than the prophets because this revelation was the Son of God!
This would have been HUGE for these Jewish Disciples!!!
This is confirmation of what Jesus preached in His sermon on the Mount when He said…
Matthew 5:17 (NIV)
17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
The Disciples response…V6…
6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified.
DARN RIGHT!!! If you heard the voice of God Wouldn’t you?
I absolutely love the tenderness of this next picture. One of the most powerful events in the history of the world has just happened. God speaks and confirms that Jesus is the Son of God and ruler over EVERYONE and EVERYTHING…and what does the ruler over ALL do?
He walks over, bends down and comforts the Disciples…V7
Matthew 17:7-8 (NIV)
7 But Jesus came and touched them. "Get up," he said. "Don't be afraid." 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
Then Jesus does something He has done before, he tells them to keep silent about what they have seen. V9…
Matthew 17:9 (NIV)
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, "Don't tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."
This is the 5th and the last time in the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus commands that the truth about Him be kept secret…but this time Jesus adds…”until after my resurrection.”
He adds that now because the cross is now clearly in sight.
As they are walking down the mountain with Jesus you can just imagine all that is racing through their minds trying to understand all that they had just witnessed.
The Disciples ask Jesus a question V10…
Matthew 17:10 (NIV)
10 The disciples asked him, "Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?"
It is likely that the Disciples were asking this question to clarify two confusing points for them…
The 1st had to do with timing and Chronology of the Messiah- The Disciples understood from the scriptures that the return of Elijah would precede the coming of the Messiah .
The 2nd issue was that when Elijah came he was suppose to set all things right…how could Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God be talking about suffering and dying if Elijah was going to set everything right?
Matthew 17:11-13 (NIV)
11 Jesus replied, "To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things.
12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands."
13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.
To the 1st point Jesus confirms…Elijah indeed would precede him as the scriptures promised…and in fact Elijah had preceded the Messiah in the person of John the Baptist.
To the 2nd point Jesus says…”they killed Elijah the messenger of the Messiah, likewise they will kill the Son of God.”
Although there was still more revelation ahead and more understanding needed. Peter James and John were changed on that Journey with Jesus.
They were changed because…
1st-They had encountered the Glory of Jesus- they had experienced some of the Glory of Jesus as Jesus was before Creation and as He would soon be again after His resurrection.
They were changed because…
2nd- They had a new understanding of the Supremacy of Jesus- God had shown them that Jesus was above even the Law and the Prophets. Jesus was above everything they had known and above everything they ever would know.
The “unveiling” of Jesus was not complete for Peter James and John. More revelation would be needed for them and more understanding would come but they had taken a journey with Jesus to a mountain top and in that journey Jesus had unveiled more of Himself to them and they would never be the same again.
Great…for Peter, James and John! …But what about us?
Of course we now have the record of this event and that in itself is wonderful and revealing but is there any direct application for us here and today?
I have to tell you that I struggled over the application for this message more than any message I have ever done. I would start writing…and it would be clear that was somehow not right…I would write again…and again what I would write would make sense, but it somehow just would not feel right. I would pray, wait…nothing. On Thursday night I was up from 2:00 am on sitting, waiting, praying….NOTHING. I honestly did not know how God wanted to apply this message to us.
Finally it came to me and it was obvious why I struggled. I am a man of MANY WORDS, so often too many words…
God needed to wrestle with me to get through MY many words so He could get to HIS few words.
Here was the message I believe I got from the Lord...
“I invite ALL to a journey to the Mountain with me”
But there was more…”Do you believe that journey is really possible?”
Peter, James and John took a journey with Jesus and saw the Glory of Jesus. I believe with all my heart that through this passage Jesus invites us to journey with Him to see His Glory just like Peter James and John did.
But there is a problem, many of us don’t believe that journey is possible! Many do not believe we can experience the Glory of God.
But we can experience the Glory of God …
Let me show you…
Moses is facing one of the toughest challenges of his role as leader of the people of God and so Moses petitions God…
“If you don’t go with me please don’t take us from here. We need your presence, it is only your presence that makes us the People of God…if you don’t go with us we are no different than any other people.”
God promises that His presence would go with Moses and then Moses makes a bold request…
Exodus 33:18 (NIV)
18 Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory."
And God does! …not fully because Moses could not handle all of it, but God answers and shows Moses His Glory.
Then there is this from Paul…
2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV)
6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
God sent Jesus for the very purpose of us being able to know the light of His Glory…in our hearts… to have his Glory our hearts and not our heads we MUST be able to experience God’s Glory.
Then this prayer by Jesus…
John 17:3 (NIV)
3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
Jesus prays that we would know (experience)God and know (experience) Him.
We have to believe we CAN experience the Glory of God and we must ask for it, long for it, journey for it and wait in Hopeful Expectation of it.
I believe that through this passage today, Jesus is inviting us to renew our journey with Him and to experience His Glory.
I believe also that through this passage Jesus is inviting us to journey with Him so He can confirm in our hearts that He IS the Son of God and we can experience His Supremacy over ALL things. Renew our journey with Him to experience His Supremacy
I know, I know we all confess that Jesus is the Son of God and master over everything…but let’s be honest with ourselves. While we say that we KNOW Jesus supremacy over all things we are overcome by so many things…
- Overcome by fears about the way we look
- Overcome by fear about the economy and our money
- Overcome by the fear over the moral direction of our society
- Overcome by the fear of the power of our culture.
- Overcome by fear about our comfort
- Overcome by fear about our health and overcome with fear about death.
To all these fears Peter writes…
2 Peter 2:19 (NASB)
19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.
Everything that we live in fear of ultimately becomes our Master !
But the truth of Jesus supremacy over ALL THINGS that sets us Free!
Colossians 1:17 (NIV)
17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Jesus invites us today and everyday to journey with him to renew our understanding and confirm…He is the Son of God, Jesus has supremacy and control over EVERYTHING!...and it is that truth that assures of us Hope and Sets us Free.
This journey to the Mountain with Jesus would be a corner stone of Peter’s journey with Jesus and it would be catapult for his Faith.
Peter would later write this about his journey to the mountain with Jesus and it’s impact…
2 Peter 1:16-18 (NIV)
16 We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
Peter’s journey to the mountain with Jesus gave Peter assurance that what he was giving his life to was not some man invented story but the truth of the Story of God lived out in the life of the Son of God.
Peter journeyed through his life and in the end turned from living in the STORY of JESUS to living in the GLORY of Jesus!
Jesus is inviting everyone of us today and every day to do the same.
Anything less is just plain going to be a waste!
If you want an enticing picture of what you can experience on a journey with Jesus. If you want to know what awaits you as Jesus unveils and reveals more and more to you as you get closer and closer to him.
Look to John who was on the mountain that day.
Towards the end of his life as John was writing the Revelation of Jesus that God had given to him. Jesus suddenly appears before him…John records his response to Jesus appearance.
Revelation 1:12-17 (NIV)
12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.
John had walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, shared meals with Jesus on the earth, but he never responded to seeing Jesus like this!
But now Jesus appears to reveal to John what Jesus looks like after His resurrection,after His ascension. Jesus reveals Himself to John now that He had returned to full Glory…and in the presence of this Jesus, in the presence of the Glorified Christ John falls at His feet.
That is Jesus as He is today!
This is the Jesus who invites us to journey with Him.
This is the Jesus who invites you to experience His Glory and take refuge in His supremacy
”Don’t stop at believing in me, journey with me to the mountain. I have so much for you there.”