Summary: Just as God illuminated His holiness as He gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on the top of Mount Sinai, He also illuminated His mercy when the nature of Christ was revealed on the top of the Mount of Transfiguration.
Law Illuminated, Matthew 17:1-9
The famed 19th Century preacher, Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “Truth may be compared to some cave or grotto, with wondrous stalactites reaching from the roof, and others reaching from the floor, a cavern glittering with spar and abounding in marvels.
Before entering the cavern you inquire for a guide, who comes with his lighted torch. He conducts you down to a considerable depth, and you find yourself in the midst of the cave. He leads you through different chambers.
Here he points you to a little stream rushing from amid the rocks and indicates its rise and progress. Then he points to some peculiar rock and tells you its name, then takes you into a large natural hall, tells you how many persons once feasted in it, and so on.
Truth is a grand series of caverns, it is our glory to have so great and wise a conductor as the Holy Spirit. Imagine that we are coming to the darkness of it. He is a light shining in the midst of us to guide us. And by the light he shows us wonderful things. He teaches us by suggestion, direction, and illumination.”
In John 16:13 the words of Jesus are recorded, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…”
Jesus is the ultimate source of illumination. In today’s Scripture reading we listened to the account of the transfiguration of Christ. Jesus had taken with him Peter, James, and James to the top of a high mountain and there God revealed to them the fullness of the true nature of Jesus.
Jesus was – and is – oh so much more than a wise teacher or even a great prophet. In this passage of Scripture the true nature of Jesus is illuminated. That which was previously darkened and difficult to see became plainly visible.
The magnificent nature of Jesus was made observable – the truth was illuminated.
This morning I am going to share with you about the law of God which was and is made fully visible in the person of Jesus Christ – God the Son. You see Jesus is the fullest expression of God’s glorious nature to humanity.
In Christ we find the fullness of the nature of God expressed. God is both Just and full of mercy, God is both Holy and full of grace. When we consider the person of Christ and as we seek to live out our faith in Him we do well not to neglect any aspect of the truth of God’s nature in favor of any other.
In order to comprehend God’s grace we need not abandon His Law and in order to realize His holiness we need not forget His mercy.
In fact, to fully comprehend the grace that was given to us in the person of Jesus Christ we must first consider the Law that was delivered to us through the prophets of God.
In Matthew 5:17 Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (ESV)
When Jesus was transfigured it was the law of God which was finally and completely illuminated before us. That which was previously veiled in the darkness of sin and guilt before the Law of God was made known through the grace of the Son of God.
In Exodus 34:29 is says, “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.” (ESV)
I read the story of a children’s pastor, who listened as a fourth-grade Sunday school teacher shared a concern. Completing a quarter’s lessons on the Ten Commandments, he had asked the kids, “What is the hardest Commandment for you to keep?” to which most of them responded, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
He couldn’t understand why fourth graders would find that command a problem until a mother quizzed her son on what he thought committing adultery meant. Without blinking, the boy replied, “Thou shalt not sass back to adults.”
Often, we misunderstand the Law of God as well, don’t we? While we may understand what adultery is, I am afraid that many Christians, and certainly scores of people in the world, live their lives in utter darkness concerning the Law of God.
There are those who place the Law of God above all else and in so doing they fall into the trap of legalism. There are others who, for the sake of grace, fall into the equally ill-fated trap of rejecting the moral authority of God’s Word.