Summary: The transfiguration reveals that Jesus is powerful (he is God!), primary (he must come first), personable (he cares about us), and passionate (he desires all to be saved). God wants us, like the disciples present, to "listen to him!"
Opening Our Eyes to God’s Glory
Do you ever get the sense that you take God for granted? Some of us grew up in homes where going to Sunday worship was expected of us. We grew up always knowing the love of God from an early age. And perhaps we’re spoiled a little. We don’t remember what it was like to not know God.
The story of the transfiguration reminds us of who God really is, of who Jesus really is. I’ve preached on this story before, but when I studied it this week, I tried to look at it with new eyes, asking God to give me a fresh approach. And God gave me four words that describe our Lord Jesus, and four corresponding implications for us.
1. First, our Lord Jesus is: Powerful – At the Transfiguration, God pulls back the veil and allows Peter, James, and John to see the full, pre-incarnational glory of Jesus, who is in very nature God himself (Philippians 2:6). The word “transfiguration” in the original Greek is “metamorphos” from which we get our word “metamorphosis.” Jesus radically changes from the inside out, back to his full godly form. As Paul would later write, “In Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body” (Colossians 2:9, NLT). Jesus shines brighter than an August South Texas sun. In the other gospel parallels, Mark describes Jesus as brighter than any clothes could be bleached (Mark 9:3). Luke compares him to a bolt of lightning (Luke 9:29). Max Lucado writes that this is “Christ as His truest self, wearing His pre-Bethlehem and post-Resurrection wardrobe” (Max Lucado, “Fearless”).
The implication for us is that Jesus is more than just a good teacher. He’s more than an influential leader. He’s more than a superb role model. He’s more than a profound ethicist. Sure, he’s a prophet, and yes, he’s a priest, and even a king. But he is first and foremost ... God! He is God in human form. A child once described him as “God with skin on.” Jesus told his disciples, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father” (John 14:9). Want to get to know God better? Want to know God’s will? Study Jesus in the scriptures. I listen to the Bible on tape during my daily commute. I like to listen to different books of the Bible, but I try to come back regularly to one of the four gospels. Why? Because I want to know Jesus better. If I know Jesus, I know God. Jesus reveals to us the heart of the Father, because he is God in human form. The transfiguration shows me that Jesus is powerful, and secondly, that he is ...
2. Primary. Jesus is #1. He’s at the very top of the power hierarchy. Another “P” word that describes this is “preeminence.” Jesus is preeminent in our life. Look at today’s story: At first, Peter, James, and John see him talking with Moses and Elijah. And Peter follows his pattern of, “When you don’t know what to say, just say something!” Do you know anybody like that? Well, Peter says something like, “This is nice, Jesus. How about if I build tents for the three of you?” Maybe he wants to stretch out this spiritual high as long as he can. But God interrupts him with a booming voice from a descending cloud, echoing what God said earlier at his son’s baptism: “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” And then he adds an extra line: “Listen to him!” And suddenly, it’s just Jesus. No more Moses. No more Elijah.
The implication is simple: Jesus wants first place in your life. If you put something or someone on an equal footing with Jesus, well, it just might get taken away. Moses the lawgiver and Elijah the prophet illustrate how Jesus fulfills the law and all the prophecy of scripture. Peter gets distracted, so God takes them away. Be careful what you put on an equal par with Jesus. We serve a jealous God, because he knows that anything else is an idol that will disappoint and hurt us, so God must come first. It reminds me of God telling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his one and only son, the son of promise. It was a test, to see if Abraham would keep God first. And Abraham passed, and God provided a substitute sacrifice and rewarded Abraham’s faith. I also think of when Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Jesus exaggerates to make the point that...he...must...come...first in our lives! Jesus is primary! He is powerful and primary, and yet, he is also ...