Summary: Watching with Jesus in prayer, deliverance by the Cross, listening to His voice, our service of Him.
THE TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS
1. THE TRANSFIGURATION
In the midst of His busy Ministry, Jesus sought opportunity to draw apart for prayer and fellowship with His heavenly Father. This is an example for all of us to follow, no matter how busy we are. In fact, the busier we are, the more we need God’s support! If God’s own Son needed spiritual refreshment whilst on His earthly pilgrimage, how much more do we sinful mortals!
On this occasion Jesus took with Him three of His disciples: Peter, James and John. No doubt our Lord’s prayer-time took longer than they expected, and they became sleepy. Jesus would say to them on another occasion, “Could you not watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation” (Matthew 26:40-41). Drowsiness is often an enemy to prayer-fulness.
What they saw and heard when they awoke filled them with wonder!
Jesus had changed in His physical appearance, shining with the brightness of His heavenly glory. His clothes shone bright white. The witnesses saw Moses and Elijah talking with our Lord. In fact, they even heard part of the conversation.
Moses represents the law of God, which the children of Israel had broken - as have we all! Elijah represents the Old Testament prophets, who called them back to God. These two men appeared in a recognisable form from heaven itself: Moses the man whose burying place is known only to God (Deuteronomy 34:6); and Elijah, who did not even pass through death, but was carried up into heaven on a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:11).
The New Testament was originally written in Greek, and what Luke says was discussed by Jesus and these two great men from the past was quite literally: “the exodus which Jesus would accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31). Moses had been the one who had led the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, the “exodus” or “leading out.” Now Jesus was to accomplish a departure of his own.
2. WHAT ‘DEPARTURE’ WAS JESUS GOING TO ACCOMPLISH AT JERUSALEM? (i) His death; and (ii) His ascension.
(i) That Jesus came into the world to die is the constant teaching of Scripture. Jesus Himself often repeated this fact: His pupils were hard of hearing when it came to the difficult things He had to say - and we are no different! He mentioned it quite soon after coming down out of the mountain, but His disciples could not understand it (Luke 9:44-45).
But there was a way in which our Lord’s death was to be like the exodus for which Moses the man of God is famed.
What was it Moses accomplished, guided by God’s own hand?
The setting at liberty of the Hebrew slaves of Egypt.
What did Jesus accomplish through His death?
The release of captive souls from the bondage of sin, death and hell.
(ii) It was also from Jerusalem that Jesus ascended into heaven after His resurrection, “leading captivity captive” (Psalm 68:18; Ephesians 4:8). The likeness to Elijah being carried up into heaven in a fiery chariot seems an interesting parallel.
So that Jesus would accomplish all that God intended for Him, “When the days drew near for Him to be received up, He set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). This is the turning point in Luke’s Gospel.
3. A LESSON FOR THE DISCIPLES
Man is limited in his understanding of spiritual events, and even the closest friends of Jesus were mystified by what they were witnessing.
With his usual enthusiasm, Peter wanted to erect three tents, or temples: one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Jesus.
Suddenly a cloud covered them all, and when it lifted Moses and Elijah were no longer there.
The voice of God spoke from heaven: “This is my Son, my Beloved; Listen to Him!” (Luke 9:35).
Not Moses. Not Elijah. But listen to Jesus.
Not the Law. Not the Prophets. But Jesus.
As His own mother said at the wedding in Cana of Galilee, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5).
We do well to listen to this voice, and to all the voices which tell us to listen to Jesus.
Where might we hear what He is saying?
In the Bible,
but also in the voice of an awakened conscience,
in the counsels of fellow Christians,
and in the promptings of His Holy Spirit as we draw near to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
If we are hearing contradictory voices,
we must test what we hear against the Holy Scriptures, which is the Word of God as surely as Jesus Himself is called the Word of God.
Our God is not a god of confusion.
4. COMING DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN