Last Sunday we read the account where Jesus wanted to know from his disciples whether they know him and were willing to face the reality of the events that was about to happen to in their lives because they were his followers.
But, there was a gap between what they knew and what they believed.
About believing, we learned that it is not enough to say that we believe in Jesus but we have to be delighting in that fact, embracing that fact, and making Christ the treasure and the Lord of our life by surrendering to him.
- It means to be willing to deny ourselves by the power of the Holy Spirit and carry our cross daily.
- It means to lose our lives for Christ and the Gospel.
- It means that we are not ashamed of Christ and his words in this adulterous and sinful generation.
When we look at this lifestyle, to some of you it may sound quite like an impossible task to accomplish but I believe our passage today will enable our hearts to realize that yes it is possible.
Let’s look at it closely.
The passage starts with a prophecy made by Jesus and then the fulfillment of it in the following verses.
In verse 1 Jesus said to them “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”
Verse 2 – After six days, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
The first question that rose in my mind was why only these three men and not the others. After researching for an answer I concluded that there is absolutely no clue within the scripture that reveals anything about the choice of these three men.
However if you research on the internet you will see a lot of assumptions made by people but we need to be careful when we read anything that is not explicitly mentioned in the scripture or else we will end up interpreting the passage wrongly.
After taking them to the mountain Jesus transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.
Why Moses and Elijah?
Most commentaries say that Moses represented the Law and Elijah represented the prophets. Moses was a prophet as well as the law-giver of Israel; Elijah was expected as the forerunner of the Messiah. The presence of Moses and Elijah as forerunners attests to the culmination of a purposeful revelation of God’s Son with the history of Israel.
Verse 5 – Peter says to Jesus “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified.”
And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”
Can you imagine? God himself, the creator, the alpha, the omega – spoke to them out of the cloud saying “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”
What a privilege it must had been for these three guys to hear the voice of God speaking to them.
And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead might mean. And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”
This question was asked by the disciples referring to the prophesy made in Malachi 4:5-6
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
In Matthew 11:13-14 Jesus reveals who this Elijah was
“For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.”
Without over complicating the whole passage with lots of details I want to quickly talk about the application of this passage in our lives which I think is most important.
The Purpose of Jesus’ Transfiguration
To know the application of this passage in our lives we need to know the purpose of Jesus’ transfiguration.
And to plainly put it, the purpose of Jesus’ transfiguration was to make himself know to the disciples in his full glory, power and might.
All this while they knew Jesus as a teacher, a friend, a brother. As a fellow human being who had some extraordinary powers to perform miracles and heal the sick.
Through the event of his transfiguration Jesus wanted to reveals to them that just as he was fully human he is also fully God. In fact he is God first, human later.
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them,[k] fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.”
For the Peter, John and James this was not an ordinary moment. We see their excitement when they mention about it their later writings.
John wrote in his gospel, “We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only” (John 1:14).
2 Peter 1:16-18 – Peter also wrote of it, “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. 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.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with Him on the sacred mountain”
It was the most powerful encounter in the life of these men that changed them forever. And if you track the lives of these three men through the rest of the new testament you will what an impactful lives they led bringing glory to God.
- Denying their selves by the power of the Holy Spirit and carried their cross.
- Lost their lives for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. In fact James was the very first one to be-headed by Herod because of his faith.
- Never ashamed of Christ and his word.
Imagine you are working in the largest company in the world (Toyota Motors – 4th Largest), you are working at the lowest rank possible, maybe as a sweeper or something. And you are the most lazy and wicked person one can imagine, even stealing from the company for selfish gain.
One day you meet an old guy who joins you as fellow sweeper, he is warm and friendly, you start enjoying his company, because he’s good guy you start getting influenced by him and his nature and feel convicted of all the all the wrong things you’ve been doing, but no matter how hard you try you are unable to change because of your inner heart condition.
And one day this old guy takes you into a room and removes his mask and reveals to you who is really is. You get to know that he is actually the owner of the company. The Boss of all bosses.
Imagine him telling you that he knows you by your name, that even though he was hired as a sweeper the decision was made by him. Among millions of people he chose you to work in his company.
Imagine what that will that do to you.
Now, imagine him telling you that he always knew how wicked, lazy and crook you were. But he still wanted you around and never wanted to see you leave the company and suffer.
Even after sending his manager to correct and rebuke you never changed. And the only way he could change you was if he himself can come down to your level and reveal himself.
Tell me how would you feel?
Now, imagine him telling you that the day you joined the company you were also assigned shares in the company, that you are not just a sweeper but a partner in the company.
Will this kind of an experience do something to you?
Brothers and sisters, this is just an earthly scenario which sounds so exciting.
This is true and it has happened to us in the heavenly realms. Jesus, the creator God, the all powerful, all mighty chose us to be his sons and daughters before the foundations of this world, but we lived in ignorance and sinned against him, although we knew Him, we did not honor him as God or gave thanks to him, but become futile in our thinking, and our foolish hearts darkened, claiming to be wise, we became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
The purpose of Transfiguration was to reveal Jesus to us in his full glory so that it changes us from within and enables us to live lives that glorify him on this earth.
Those who witnessed the transfiguration bore witness to it to the other disciples and to countless millions down through the centuries which includes us.
If you are wondering how you will live such sacrificial life for the sake of Christ and his Gospel. The answer is by knowing who Jesus is whom we worship.