Summary: Glory! (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reading: Matthew chapter 17 verses 1-13.
(a). Introduction (Verse 1):
1After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
(1). The Purpose:
• For both Jesus and the disciples these six days were a time of reflection:
• And this secluded mountain gave them time for contemplation.
(a). For the disciples.
• Each day of that past week the disciples must have pondered and discussed,
• What Jesus meant by His death and resurrection.
• No doubt they tried to figure out how this related;
• To the Old Testament promises about the kingdom of God.
• If Jesus were going to build a church,
• What would happen to the promised kingdom?
(b). For Jesus.
• It too was a time of contemplation,
• Luke in his version of this event tells us (chapter 9 verse 29);
• Jesus went up the mountain to pray.
• He was thinking & praying through he situation that was a head of him in Jerusalem.
(2). The mountain:
• The text does not name the place where this miracle took place:
• So we do not know (but that of course does not stop people guessing!).
(a). Tradition says Mount Tabor.
• But Mount Tabor is quite small (1,900 ft high),
• And it was also topped with a fortified city,
• Which would hardly give the peaceful setting Jesus required!
(b). Mount Hermon.
• Both Matthew and Mark tell us it was a “high mountain”.
• Most scholars believe it was Mount Hermon, which is 9,400 ft high.
• And it is only 14 miles away from Caesarea Philippi (continuity with chapter 16).
(C). Mount Jebel Jermak (or Jermuk).
• Which is in upper Galilee,
• The highest elevation in that entire region (rising 4,000 feet above the Mediterranean Sea)
Two reasons why it may have been this mountain:
• From this mountain it was a relatively short distance to Capernaum,
• Verse 24 tells us Jesus seems to have gone there soon afterwards.
• Mark chapter 9 verse 14 tells us:
• “A large crowd and the teachers of the law” surrounded Jesus.
• This mountain was not in the far north, populated mostly by Gentiles,
• But where Jewish people and their leaders were based.
(d). The honest answer is we do not know!
(3). The disciples.
• Peter, James & John regularly emerge as an inner group among the twelve,
• Once again if we are honest we do not know why these three were chosen!
We can only guess:
• In view of Peter’s great confession in chapter 16 verse 16,
• It is probably no surprise he was chosen to go.
• John had an affinity with Jesus, a real close bond.
• He is referred to as “The disciple whom Jesus loved”.
• Of course Jesus loved all the disciples but John enjoyed a special relationship.
(C). James (john’s brother).
• James was the first of the twelve disciples to be martyred for Christ,
• Perhaps this warranted this special privilege.
Quote: Dr. G. Campbell Morgan:
• Has pointed out that on three occasions Jesus took these disciples aside to go with him,
• All three occasions had to do with death:
• Jesus was teaching these three men that He was victor over death,
• (1). He raised Jairus’ daughter.
• (2). In the Garden of Gethsemane, he surrendered to death.
• (3). The Transfiguration, Jesus taught them that He would be glorified in death.
(b). The voice of prophecy (verse 2-6):
(a). Physical illumination:
• It was clearly not easy for these men to put their experience into words,
• And the gospel writers describe what happened to Jesus in slightly different ways.
• Matthew says (verse 2):
• “His face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as light”.
• Mark says (chapter 9 verse 3):
• “His clothes became dazzling white”.
• Luke says (chapter 9 verse 29):
• “The appearance of his face changed and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning”.
• Remember the brightest artificial light they knew was a feeble candle or an oil lamp.
• They knew nothing of powerful spotlights or floodlights.
• The sight before them was breath-taking.
• It was both frightening and impressive and they were stunned by it.
(b). Spiritual illumination.
What the disciples saw was spiritual as well as physical:
• The veil of Jesus’ humanity was briefly drawn back,
• And they saw Jesus in a way they have not done before.
• This is the only time while he was on earth,
• That Jesus revealed His glory in this way: