Sermon for Transfiguration, Sunday February 2, 2020
Sermon for Transfiguration – February 2, 2020
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Matthew 17:1-5 (NKJV)
1 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”
In the Name of Jesus Christ,
Who is the brightness of God’s glory,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –
Hey! Look! Watch out! Heads up! When we want to gain someone’s attention, we speak loudly or use particular words to gain that attention. We may wave our hands or even jump up and down. We may talk with our hands and make gestures.
When we want someone to notice something that is written…we underline it or highlight it or maybe even use one of those fancy sticky arrows.
In the Bible, especially in the New Testament, when the Spirit of God wants us to take special note of something the word ‘Behold’ is often used. We show God and His Word respect when we carefully consider and carefully handle His Word. We should always take our time and concentrate when studying the Word, whether the word ‘behold’ is used or not.
Still, it is of note that in the Word of God before us, the word ‘behold’ is used a couple of times, because there are things on the Mount of Transfiguration that we dare not miss. So, we consider these words under the theme: “Behold! Three things not to miss on the Mount!”
May God the Holy Spirit bless our study of the Word. Amen.
1 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves;
Even though the word “Behold” isn’t used in the first verse, as we meditate on these words we may wonder: “Why did Jesus only take Peter, James and John up on the mountain?” Why didn’t He take all of the disciples? For that matter, why didn’t He lead the multitudes up on the mountain top to witness evidence of His Godhead and to see His glory?”
Did Jesus play favorites? Did He care more about these three disciples than the others? No. The Bible tells us simply (Romans 2:11, NIV): “…God does not show favoritism.” God is impartial, righteous and holy. He sees the heart, and is not swayed by external appearances. He is good to all. The Lord Jesus reminds us of that fact when He says that the Heavenly Father (Matthew 5:45, NKJV):
“…makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Far from showing favoritism, when Jesus took Peter, James and John upon the mountain, He was favoring all of us. How so? Let’s not forget that the Holy Spirit used these three men to write perhaps 7 epistles. The Spirit of God did this for the sake of all, so that we might see evidence of Jesus’ Godhead and Glory -- through their eyewitness accounts.
In fact, both Peter and John would later be led to write about the things they saw, the Holy Spirit also making application for us. In First Peter, we are told that the things these men saw and heard on the Mount of Transfiguration confirm the inspired word of the Prophets…and we should listen to them. So, it is written (2 Peter 1:16-19):
“…For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…”
It was because John was on the Mount of Transfiguration and saw Jesus’ glory – and His other miracles – that he could say (John 1:14):
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory,the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus wasn’t playing favorites…He was favoring you and me. For through the words given them by the Holy Spirit, you and I are enabled to see Jesus’ Glory. Yes, and what a sight it was:
…and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
It is difficult for us to fully comprehend those disciples saw on the Mount of Transfiguration. We are told that Jesus was ‘transfigured’ before them. The word that is used is the one from which we get the word, “Metamorphosis.” It means to transform, to change in form. There was a change in Jesus appearance and His face shone brightly – like the Sun – and His clothes became white as the light. The other Gospel writers say it was ‘white as snow (Mark 9:3)’ and ‘flashing like lightning (Luke 9:29).’
Now the Book of Exodus tells us that after Moses spoke with God, the skin of his face shone (Exodus 34:29-35). In that case we might say that Moses’ face reflected the Glory of God.
However, when Jesus was transfigured, it was His own Glory that shone forth, not that of another. We can only imagine what it was like…but that’s ok, because the Holy Spirit wants us to notice something else.
Did you notice the word, “Behold”? We are not to miss the fact that Moses and Elijah appeared to them and spoke with Jesus. Moses and Elijah were two of God’s Old Testament Prophets (whose word was confirmed by what Peter and the others saw in Jesus).
Moses -- It was through Moses that God gave His Law in written form. God also promised through Moses that He would raise up for His people a Great Prophet, the Messiah (Deuteronomy 18:18-19).
Elijah – was sent to the northern kingdom of Israel. When Elijah the Prophet completed his work for the Lord God, He was taken directly to heaven. God later promised to send one like Elijah to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 4:4-6). John the Baptist was that one, who pointed out Jesus as the Chosen Lamb of God to bear the sins of the world.
But what are we to notice here? Are we simply to note that Jesus rubbed elbows with these two great prophets? We are note that He spoke with them.
What did they talk about? While Matthew’s Gospel doesn’t mention the content of their discussion, the Gospel of Luke does and also includes that word ‘Behold’ (Luke 9:30-31):
30 And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
We are often impressed with self-less acts…like when someone dies to save another. While worthy of honor, even such a death only postpones the death of the other. We might be willing to die for our children, but our death would not free them from their debt of sin. Such acts pale in comparison to what Jesus did for us.
Jesus came to take our place…long before Calvary. Let us understand that God demands that you and I be perfect, righteous and holy. God’s Law demands that we have perfect love for God and for our fellow human beings.
Jesus took our place and lived in flawless love to God and humankind under God’s Law (Galatians 4:4-7). When that perfect life had been lived, He then took our sins and the punishment they have earned upon Him. He subjected Himself to beating, spitting, scourging, crucifixion and death.
This is the decease He was about to accomplish, the matter that they discussed, the thing the Spirit would have us behold. Jesus came to die for you. He came to defeat sin for you. He came to remove Eternal Death from your future. He came to crush Satan and remove you from his clutches forever.
Jesus didn’t come merely to become an example to be emulated. He didn’t come merely to chat with Moses and Elijah in on a mountain top. He didn’t take those men with Him so they could erect tents. He came to offer His blood as the propitiation, the satisfactory payment for your sins and for mine.
For most people, February 14th is Valentine’s Day. On Valentine’s Day people will express their love for others by means of flowers, cards and candy. Red is the color of the day. Red is the color of love. Red is the color of blood, and blood reminds us of the greatest love of all.
Our Lord Jesus loved us…and still loves us. He expressed that love by perfectly keeping God’s commandments as our substitute. He expressed His love for us…not by giving flowers, cards or candy – things that can be purchased at little cost…but by shedding His Blood to pay our debt of sin.
Yes, and He could make satisfaction for our sins because He was more than a man. Please don’t miss the other behold in verse five:
5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”
We’ve all seen clouds. Why with all the fog lately, we’ve even been surrounded and overshadowed by them. This cloud was certainly different that our fog…but…
What is so important that we notice? What must we see and hear? We dare not miss the voice of God, and the simple message it brings – Jesus is God’s Beloved Son. God is well pleased with Him. Yes, and we understand why – He perfectly kept God’s Law and followed the plan of Redemption completely. God loves us because of Him. We are not beloved of God because of our living…but because of His Life.
May the Spirit of God also lead us to heed the Word of the Father and listen to Jesus! He speaks to us not from clouds or in dreams, but from His Word.
Soon we will enter into the season of Lent. We will meditate on His sufferings and death on our behalf. But, before we leave the Mount of Transfiguration; before we come to Mount Calvary and the Cross, it is important that we not miss who goes the way of the Cross for us - the Only Begotten, Beloved Son of God.
The hymnwriter, Thomas Kelly helps us to remember when he says (TLH 153:3b):
Mark the Sacrifice appointed, See who bears the awful load’ ‘Tis the WORD, the Lord’s Anointed, Son of Man and Son of God.”
The Transfiguration surely shows Jesus’ Glory as God. The Crucifixion and the Resurrection will show us Jesus’ glory as the Redeemer.
May the Spirit of God help us to see clearly His Glory! Amen.