Summary: As John stood on that mountain & saw the transfiguration of Jesus, what did he see?
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
A. I want to read a passage of Scripture that I imagine is familiar to most of you. It is where Matthew tells about the transfiguration of Jesus, & it is found in Matthew 17:1-8.
"After six days Jesus took with Him Peter, James & John the brother of James, & led them up a high mountain by themselves. There He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, & His clothes became as white as the light.
"Just then there appeared before them Moses & Elijah, talking with Jesus. 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.’
"While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, & a voice from the cloud said, `This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!’ When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came & touched them. `Get up,’ He said. `Don’t be afraid.’ When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus."
This Transfiguration scene must have been one of the most exciting events in the life of Peter, James, & John - & maybe even for Moses & Elijah as well. And I am convinced that it can mean a great deal to us, too.
The Greek word translated as "transfiguration" is the word "metamor-phothe," from which we get "metamorphosis." As any student of biology knows, a "metamorphosis" is "a transformation, a complete change of appearance & form." (Example: Caterpillar into a butterfly.)
B. Jesus certainly went through a metamorphosis - & more than once. First, He left the glories of heaven to come to earth in human form - to live with us - to share our pain & suffering, our hungers & temptations. For 33 & 1/2 years He lived upon the face of this earth in human form.
But at the time of this scripture that we have read, Jesus coming to the end of His ministry upon this earth, & for a few minutes on a mountainside in Galilee, Peter, James, & John are privileged to see another metamorphosis, as Jesus is once again clothed in His glory, the glory of Almighty God.
PROP. This morning I want us to look at the transfiguration through the eyes of the apostle John, & behold what he beheld. So what did John see? As John stood on that mountain & saw the transfiguration of Jesus, what did he see?
I. JOHN SAW HIS GLORY!
Years later, in the 1st chapter of his Gospel, vs. 14, John says, "The Word became flesh, & made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One & Only, who came from the Father, full of grace & truth."
John knew what he was talking about, for on that mountainside they had seen Jesus transfigured, His appearance changing dramatically, His face & clothing shining like the light of the sun. And just as that happened, Moses & Elijah appeared & began talking with Jesus. So awed was Peter by this sight that he said, "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."
But that obviously wasn’t God’s plan, for "While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, & a voice from the cloud said, `This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!’"
B. About a week before the transfiguration Jesus had asked His apostles this question, "Who do people say that I am?" They replied, "Some think that you are Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the other prophets. Some even think that you might be John the Baptist come back from the dead."
Then Jesus asked them, "But what about you?...Who do you say that I am?" It was Peter who answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God" [Matthew 16:16].
C. I have always wondered how the other apostles reacted when Peter said that. Did they all join in, saying, "He’s right, you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Peter is absolutely right!" Or did they look at one another in confusion? Did they turn to Peter & ask, "Why did you say that? Are you really convinced that He is the Messiah?"
I think that there must have been some late conversations around the campfire as they discussed what Jesus had said. They re-examined His miracles, & talked about the people who had come to Him. "Is He really the Christ, the Messiah we long for, whose coming we have prayed for again & again?" There must have been many lingering questions until, on this mountainside, Peter & James & John saw the glory of God.