Summary: Why did Jesus take Peter, James and John up to the Mount of Transfiguration? Because there was something that He could only teach in that place and in that way. Find out what that means to us.
OPEN: The real McCoy really wasn’t...
That is, the real McCoy wasn’t really a McCoy. His real name was Norman Selby. Raised on a farm in Indiana he left home around 1890, and after year in training, emerged as a boxer with the name "Kid McCoy."
In a day of bare fisted boxing, the Kid was something. He said he’d fight anyone, anywhere, and he did. For years he averaged a fight a month, and won most by knockouts. But the popularity of his reputation created an atmosphere where a host of imitation Kid McCoys soon cropped up - perhaps hoping to cash in on his reputation and the potential purses he would be offered.
That created a certain amount of confusion until “The Kid” agreed to a title fight with the legendary Joe Choynski on March 24, 1899. With that fight, “The Kid ended the confusion of his identity for all time. In a titanic slug-fest that cost him three broken ribs, Kid McCoy finished off the legendary Joe in the 20th round. After the fight, the San Francisco Examiner’s boxing writer declared, "Now You’ve SEEN The Real McCoy!"
APPLY: In our text today, we read about Jesus taking three of disciples on a special road trip.
Jesus had just begun a new phase in the preparation of His disciples. His time was short. In just a few days Jesus would be betrayed, and suffer and die on the cross. And because of the shortness of his remaining time, Jesus had begun the training of his disciples in earnest, preparing them for the fight that lay before them. A fight in which they would ultimately be asked to give their lives - for every disciple (except John) died a martyr’s death.
This trip up the mountain was a SPECIAL trip for Jesus… and it had a SPECIAL purpose. There was something that Jesus wanted to teach Peter, James and John on this mountain that He could teach them in no other place and in no other way.
And you can tell HOW important this teaching was to be, by how dramatic it was. In fact, it was so dramatic that this incident is recorded not only in Matthew, but also in the Gospels of Mark & Luke.
And then later, when Peter wrote his 2nd letter, he stated: "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ’This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’
We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain." II Peter 1:16-18
As I said, this was a special trip for Jesus and His disciples… and it had a special purpose.
I. Notice what happened when Jesus leads His disciples up the mountain:
No sooner had they reached the pinnacle when Jesus turned around and his entire continence changed. His face began to shine like the sun, and His garments became as white as the light. And, as if that weren’t enough, two men appear beside Jesus. We’re not told how the disciples knew who they were, but they suddenly realized these two men were Moses & Elijah.
Moses, the man to whom God gave the Law on Mt. Sinai
And Elijah - perhaps one of the greatest prophets of God who ever lived
The disciples are understandably bewildered… and terrified.
Peter (never at a loss for words) stammers "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters— one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." Matthew 17:4
All three Gospels agree, Peter didn’t have a clue what he was saying, but this seemed as good a comment as any. As Mk 9:6 informs us: “He did not know what to say”
Just then, as Peter utters his comment, a massive cloud envelops all of them and the voice of God declares: "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" (Matthew 17:5)
At this point, the disciples can’t handle it any longer, and they fall on their faces in abject fear. The next thing they know, Jesus is touching them and telling them to stand up. They have no need to be afraid. And when they look up – everything has disappeared:
There’s No Elijah, no Moses, no cloud.
All they see is Jesus.
II. And, that is all that happens on the Mountain
There’s no special prayer time, no extended sermon or Bible lesson, no comment (even) on what has transpired. All Jesus says is: “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” Matthew 17:9