From: Su Min
Subject: (20 Jan) Transfiguration
Monday 20th January 1997
Epistle to The CyberChurch
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him.
TEXTToday we look at Matthew_17:1-13. See also Mark_9:2-10,_Luke_9:28-36.
CONTEXTJesus had just predicted his death and resurrection, and proclaimed that "some are standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom." (Matthew_16:28)
Was this to mean His second coming? I am lead to believe Jesus predicts His transfiguration.
UP THE MOUNTAINAfter six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John, the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. (Matthew_17:1) After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain where they were all alone.(Mark_9:2).
About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John, and James with him and went up onto a mountain top to pray. (Luke_9:28)
The mountain is probably Mount Hermon, near Cesaria Philippi. Mt. Hermon rises 2814 metre above sea level. Jesus takes his three trusted disciples away from the crowds, up to a secluded mountain spot, to be alone, to pray, to worship and to experience a special revelation of His kingdom glory.
Mini-lesson:From time to time, Our Lord will lead us to a mountain top experience: there to meet Him in all His glory, there to see God, there to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.
TRANSFIGURATIONThere he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. (Matthew_17:2)
We should take some pains to understand this transfiguration phenomenon.
It is unique, and stands as a pivotal point in the life of Jesus.
The Greek word translated to "transfigured" in the text is Strong's Concordance #3339, metamorphoo, to change, to transfigure, transform. It means not just a change of appearances and look, but a change of substance, a transformation of essential form, beginning from within. The reverse of God made flesh: it was the reversal of the human flesh of Jesus to His Deity, His true form as Son of God. It was a brief revelation of Jesus in all his glory, as Messiah, as Victor, as King of King, Lord of Lords. The transfiguration marks an important stage in the revelation of Jesus as The Christ and The Son of God.
MOSES AND ELIJAHJust then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Moses and Elijah are two of the giants of the Old Testament. Their presence here at the transfiguration is an endorsement of the fact that Jesus is the fulfilment of the OT prophecies. Moses represents the Law( having himself written it down) and Elijah, the Prophets. The fact that Moses died but Elijah passed from this life without dying, suggests that they represent two groups of people that Christ will bring with Him to establish His kingdom: dead saints who have been resurrected, and living saints who have been translated.
The content of the discourse between Jesus, Moses and Elijah is revealed to us in Luke_9:31."They spoke about his departure which he was to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem".
The word "departure" in the NIV text is "decease" in the KJV, and in the Greek, "exodos", Strong's Concordance #1841, an exit, departing, death. Not by coincidence, the same word for the second book of the bible, and for the great departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage into freedom in the promised land. Indeed, the appointment Jesus had in Jerusalem would lead Him along the Via Dolorosa, to Calvary, from the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky, departing, in an exodus from the grip of death, leading His people out from slavery and sin into everlasting light. Lord I lift Your Name on high!
STAY ISOLATED?Peter said to Jesus, "Lord it is good for us to be here. If you wish I will put up three shelters- one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah." (Matthew_17:4)
Peter was of good intention. Peter loved the Lord. Peter felt good with the mountain top experience. Peter wanted to make it permanent. Peter did not want this spiritual high to end. If the Lord was willing, build a shelter there, camp out there, dwell there up in the mountain.
CLOUDSWhile he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them (Matthew_17:5a)
The study of "clouds" could take a full semester...
The cloud of the presence of God led the Israelites through the wilderness (Exodus_13:21,_Exodus_19:9,_Exodus_24:15,_Exodus_34:5,_Exodus_40:34,_Numbers_11:25, 1_Kings_8:10)
A cloud is present at the transfiguration, at the ascension (Acts_1:9) and at the second coming (Acts_1:11,_ Revelation_1:7)
GOD SPEAKS… and a voice from the cloud said," This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!". (Matthew_17:5b)
Even as Jesus appears transfigured, God The Father appears as a cloud and speaks, conforming to us that Jesus is God the Son. "...This is my Son,"
God declares His love for Jesus ..."whom I love"
God goes on to declare that the Father-Son relationship is enhanced to perfection "....in whom I am well pleased": this satisfaction is derived from the perfect obedience of The Son to the Father's perfect will.
Endorsing the presence of Jesus on earth as a leader of the lost people, a Good Shepherd to the lost sheep: God says, “Listen to him!"
Jesus comes preaching the message of repentance. "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near."
Mini-lesson.Even today, God speaks to us, endorsing the Sonship of Jesus. God speaks to us saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" He who has ears, let him hear.
TERRORWhen the disciples heard this they fell face down to the ground, terrified.
Mini-lessonWhat is our response when ushered into the presence of God? Terror? Fear? Awesome respect? Love? Comfort? Protection? Depends on our relationship with Him.
If we are facing Him as unrepentant sinners, then indeed we quake with fear, all the way to hell! But if we face our God as redeemed children, then do we not rest in the cleft, in the Rock of Ages, in the palm of His hand, under the shadow of the wings of The Almighty, in the bosom of the Good Shepherd, securely on His shoulders? As the Father welcomes the returning prodigal son, filled with compassion, running towards the son, throwing his arms around him and kissing his son (Luke_15:20), so too will Our Father greet us. Yes. fall down on our faces in respect and worship. But also enter into his presence with worship and praise.
REASSURANCEBut Jesus came and touched them, "Get up", He said, "Do not be afraid".
Min-lesson: And even today, in the midst of our terror, our confusion, our wandering, our listlessness, our anguish, our pain, Jesus, our Saviour, our Friend, comes alongside us to touch us and say "Get up. Do not be afraid".
DOWN THE MOUNTAINWhen they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
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".
When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. The view of Elijah and Moses had gone. The visitation was over. It was time to get back, down to earth. Jesus warns them to keep the incident private, for the world was not yet ready to perceive such revelation.
OUR MOUNTAIN TOP EXPERIENCEPart of the application of this text to our lives I believe, is to see our spiritual high moments as mountain top experiences: temporary transient separation from things of the world: go up the mountain: experience the presence of God Almighty, hear God tell us to listen to Jesus, be fill the power of the Holy Spirit. Then, having worshipped, come down and dwell amongst men, letting the light of God shine through us to them. Seek to succour the poor, minister to the homeless, the orphan, the widow, uphold the oppressed, befriend the alien, heal the sick. And spread the good news.
BENEDICTIONMay our loving God grant you a mountain top experience: that your spirit may be filled with the Holy Spirit.
May He guide you back amongst the lost sheep, that you may tend them, that you may feed them. AMEN!
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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