Summary: If your God is not a God of miracles, what kind of God is He? The greatest miracle of God is the miracle of our salvation.
Does God Perform Miracles? Matthew 17.1-9
NKJ Matthew 17:1 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!" 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. 7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, "Arise, and do not be afraid." 8 When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. 9 Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead."
This Sunday brings us to the end of the Epiphany season. Next Wednesday we will begin the season of Lent and our preparations for the celebration of Easter. But I want to emphasize that our celebration of Transfiguration today is very special. It shows us a lot about God, about our salvation and our hope.
A group of psychology students were performing an experiment on lab rats. They placed the rats in a large tank of water in a room that was completely dark. With special video equipment they observed the rats to see how long they could stay swimming. After six hours the rats were about ready to drown and had to be rescued. Next they took another group of rats, and placed them in the same tank. This time, however, they allowed for a very small light to shine in the room. These rats were able to stay alive for 17 hours! Their conclusion was that the little bit of light made all the difference for the animals. There was hope. (Sermoncentral.com)
I. The Miracle of the Transfiguration
Take a look at our text again in Matthew seventeen. Notice that in chapter sixteen Peter makes his bold confession that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus commends Peter for this true confession of faith. But saying something and living it are not always the same thing. In chapter seventeen Jesus gives Peter, James and John a boost of assurance. He takes them up a high mountain. There He is changed. He becomes brilliantly white. Jesus appears talking with Moses and Elijah, who both remind us of close encounters with God. Moses met with God on Mt. Sinai, and Elijah was taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot. No Jewish person could miss the significance of the bright light and the cloud that overshadowed them. God showed His presence to the ancient Israelites in the form of a bright pillar of fire that appeared over the Tabernacle.
Then there is the voice that speaks: “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased, listen to Him.” Note two things about this. Jesus is the Son in whom He (the Father) is well-pleased. There isn’t too much about this world that pleases God, and when there is, it has something to do with Jesus. Jesus is the one God sent to save this world through His own death and resurrection. God directs His disciples to focus their attention on Jesus and His words, “Listen to Him.” Peter would later say that in this miracle the “prophetic word was made more sure.” (2) John, his Gospel, would write, “We beheld His glory, glory of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth.” (3) The Transfiguration was a miracle that drew their attention to Jesus.
II. The Nature of God
Now I have to ask a tough question. Did this miracle actually happen? Did Jesus’ appearance change to flashing white light? Did He really appear with Moses and Elijah? And did the voice from heaven really speak? Does God perform miracles like this? Turn with me to Job 9.10. In this chapter Job is proclaiming the greatness of God. In verse ten in particular He says that God is the one, “who does great things beyond searching out, and marvelous things beyond number.” Notice those words “beyond searching out.” That is a good definition of a miracle. And He does so many that they are beyond number. One of the very clearest characteristics of God is that He performs miracles.