Friday 25 February 2022


The story of the Transfiguration.

Luke 9 v 28/36; Matthew 17 v 1/8.  Mark 9 v2/8
This is one of the most dramatic stories in the Bible. It comes just after Jesus had been asking His Apostles who they thought He was and received Peter’s great confession, and He had told them He was on the way to the Cross to die, and then be raised.

Jesus wanted to be on the mountain top, and took with Him on the journey three Apostles with whom He appeared to have a special relationship, namely Peter, James and John; these three Apostles were also with Jesus when He raised Jairus’ daughter, and in His agony in the garden. The mountain was thought to be Mount Hermon, one so high it could be seen from many miles away. The climb must have been strenuous, for Luke tells us they were feeling sleepy and tired.

Jesus was going up the mountain that He might receive God’s confirmation that it was the intention for Him to go to the Cross. Jesus we find always was anxious to consult with God at His every step. Here is a lesson and good advice for us.

Jesus we are told was transfigured on His Mountain, meaning His appearance changed. There He met two of Israel’s great names, Moses who brought the law from God, and Elijah the supreme prophet through whom God spoke, and they discussed the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem. They advised Jesus to go forward being the One foretold of in the Old Testament prophecies.

We are told a voice was heard from the cloud saying, this is my beloved Son; listen to him uttered for the benefit of the three disciples.  Jesus with all his claims is endorsed by the Father.  Anyone who does not listen to Jesus the Messiah does not listen to God and so rejects God who sent Jesus. The three disciples see the glory of Jesus and recognise his greatness above Moses and Elijah, and they hear the divine authentication of Jesus as the eternal Son. Suddenly they could only see Jesus.

 Jesus commanded that they tell no one in order to stop a popular movement that would make him into a political freedom fighter, so blocking his path to suffering and dying to save his people. The disciples did not then understand what was meant by the term ‘rising from the dead’, but they expected the resurrection of all mankind at the end of the age, after the coming of Elijah as told in the Old Testament.

The passage ends telling John the Baptist restored all things preparing the  coming of Jesus, the ultimate restorer.  Both Jesus and John the Baptist suffered contempt, for the prophets Isaiah and  Malachi had forecast the coming of Elijah, as preparing the way for Jesus.  Many people thought John was Elijah, but it was not intended Elijah would personally appear. 

Jesus’ transfiguration gives a glimpse into his divine nature, and it is followed by a continual struggle against evil.  We are told of the radiant and divine glory of Jesus as the Son of God.  He is greater than Moses who represented the Jewish Law, and also greater than Elijah who represented the prophets.  Whereas Moses radiance reflects God’s glory, Jesus radiates the light from heaven.  Moses and Elijah are not reincarnations, but come from being in the presence of God.

When Peter realised what was happening he offered to build three tabernacles for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. He was struck with awe and wanted to prolong the experience, and offered to build three tabernacles. Jesus rebuked him for he was in error in that he was equating Jesus with Moses and Elijah.  

 Peter and his companions did not grasp the greatness of the Messiah, and Peter saw Jesus as someone similar to Moses and Elijah, and by wanting to build tents, was wanting to prolong this experience without realising what he is saying, for he was probably overcome. We all like to feel we are on top of the world both figuratively and actually, but most of us live their lives more realistically on the level or down in a valley.

Many people are puzzled as to how God speaks to men, and they scoff at such talk. I believe a lot of what is claimed to be from God is self-manipulated. I once visited a Theological College where ordinands were completing their training, and I was surprised to hear how God had told so many to go to Church in the South of England; I am sure God really does care for the North as well.

God speaks to us in several ways. Sometimes it is through a preacher. I had a lady who came to Church very infrequently, and one time she said I always seemed to be getting at her. I told her that as I prepared beforehand and never knew when she was coming, it may be that someone higher than me was getting at her.

Many people were converted by one of the posters containing Scriptural messages placed by the London City Mission in the Tube Stations. Sometime God speaks through our conscience, or when we pray about something and an answer comes into our mind, not always perhaps the answer we want although probably for your ultimate good.

This can happen at worship. When Billy Graham came to England thousands went to hear him and came away on a spiritual mountain. They had heard the world’s greatest and most successful preacher, massed choirs singing glorious hymns; then the following Sunday went to Church and realised they had come down to earth with a shattering bump. Instances were quoted of Vicars mocking Billy. and wanting their old staid services, some Bishops even wanted to stop him coming. .

This passage tells of Moses who had died many years before, as did Elijah, yet there they are alive, but in glory. This should indicate to us that when our last breath is breathed in this life there is another to come, another world beyond the grave.
There is much mysterious about the future, things we cannot understand, but let us be sure God has all planned and Jesus is taking care of those who have gone to be with Him, as He will with us.

The story of Jesus on the mount of transfiguration shows us his divine nature, which is to be followed by the constant struggle against evil, where he has to cure a boy with an unclean spirit. The mountain is Mount Hermon.

The transfiguration offers a glimpse into the radiant and divine glory as God’s Son, and judge of all.  White was a sign of heavenly brightness, and before he became man.   Jesus is greater than  Moses who represents the Jewish Law, and Elijah who represents the Old Testament prophets.

Whilst Moses reflects God’s glory, Jesus radiates light from the inside.  Moses and Elijah are not reincarnations, but rather come from being in the presence of God.

Once more Peter does not grasp the greatness of the Messiah, only seeing Jesus as someone similar to Moses and Elijah, and rushes to build three tents for them, possibly to have them stay there.  Peter was in a state of fear, causing him to say the wrong thing.

A voice from out of the cloud is herd saying, ‘this is my beloved Son, listen to him’, is uttered for the benefit of the three Apostles.  Jesus is here acclaimed by the Father, and anyone wo does not listen to the Messiah of God, rejects God who sent him.

The event described is one of the outstanding ones in our Lord’s earthly ministry.  A veil is lifted which hangs over the world to come.

We are told the fashion of Jesus’ countenance was altered, and his clothes were white and glistening, and the Apostles with him  saw his glory.

They had just been hearing of the Cross and passion, and the self-denial and suffering they had to submit to if they wished to be saved. They had a glimpse of the glory to follow and a specimen of the future power Jesus would have.

Let us take comfort in the hope in the hope of things held in waiting for us, which will make amends for all we suffer now.  The passage show how the safety for all true Christians who have been taken from this world.

Jesus stood in glory with Moses and Elijah standing and speaking with him. Moses had died fifteen hundred years before, Elijah had been taken up by a whirlwind nine hundred years earlier, yet here were these holy men alive.

There is a look given in this passage of a resurrection life to come. All is not lost when our last breath passes here, there is another world beyond the grave.  We must remain faithful to Christ and take comfort that until that day comes and the resurrection begins, the people of God are safe with Jesus.

We must wonder where our lost loved ones are now,  do they have knowledge of us on earth?  These are questions we have no answer to, but I believe they do know about us.  Some people will think I am wandering a bit, but I don’t wish to expand on this personal belief lest I mislead and give false expectations to anyone.

Let us just have faith that if they were believers in Jesus  he is caring for them.  He showed Moses and Elijah on the mountain, and he will show us all who have been with him one day. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are with his safe keeping, not lost, just gone before us.

We are told Moses and Elijah talked with Jesus about the Cross and his journey to Jerusalem.  It is a big mistake by some Ministers who dismiss the Old Testament on the grounds the people know nothing of Jesus Christ. They may not have the clarity we have, but there were prophecies of his coming. All of which were accurate. We have the blessing that we know we can be saved by the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, and his rising for our justification.

We finally see the immense difference between Jesus and other teachers who God has given us.  Peter thought all three men, Jesus, Moses and Elijah were of equal honor and was rebuked.

The three Apostles see the glory of Jesus and hiss greatness over Moses and Elijah and hear divine authentication of Jesus as God’ s eternal Son.  This means giving attention to the teaching of Jesus above all else, even above the Law and prophets, for such teaching supersedes, and rightly interprets the Word of God to the new covenant.

The lesson of the Transfiguration is that we must always let God speak to us and follow His Word; He has a plan for all our lives. When we turn to Him we too can reach a mountain top, but also we can close our minds to Him, and lie in the valley

Strive to hear the voice of Jesus and follow wherever he goes.  Never be satisfied with a Church which does not give the teaching and commands of Jesus and his Apostles.

 May God bless his Holy Word to us, and may his Holy name be praised.

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