Summary: Jesus said, “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” There is only one way to Heaven. And that is by accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
There was a magician who was hired to do his act on a cruise ship. He had been there for several years and did the same act over and over because the crowd was continually changing. He enjoyed the good life, spending most of his time out on the deck working on his tan rather than new tricks. One day the Captain bought a parrot and the parrot came with him every night to see the magic show. The bird learned all the tricks as to where everything was hidden by the magician in his act. The Parrot would say, “The card is up his left sleeve, the flower is under the pot, he hid the money under his shoe…” Because the parrot caught on fast, it was getting harder by the day for the magician to come up with new tricks. The magician really disliked the parrot for giving away all of his tricks, but since he was the Captain’s, he couldn’t just weigh the bird down and throw him overboard. Late one night suddenly the engine room exploded and the ship sank within minutes. Miraculously, the magician found himself clinging to a log. He was the only one left alive. As the sun came up in the morning, he turned around and here at the end of the log was that parrot. They just glared at each other and said nothing. This went on for three days. On the fourth day the parrot finally broke the silence and asked, “OK, I give up--what did you do with the ship”
Mystery, trickery, we are all drawn to that aren’t we? This morning we are going to read of a mysterious event in the life of Jesus Christ, that wasn’t at all any form of trickery. We are going to look at some painted images of Jesus, experience His beauty and learn a little more of who this Man was, the Son of God, sent to earth to redeem mankind.
In rich and unparalled visions of Jesus Christ as God and as Man, artists have strived for nearly two millennium to create the perfect image of Jesus Christ. Nowhere was this attempt so strong as in Italy during the Renaissance period.
The word Renaissance is a French word meaning new birth, a name given to the movement in Europe that inspired men to abandon the restraints of the Middle Ages and to develop modern interests, enthusiasm and ideals. Its most noted feature was the Revival of Learning, an awakening of mind and a thirst after the new knowledge. This resulted in numerous investigations of natural events, in a widespread study of art, music and literature and in a broadening of outlook to a degree never before known.
Before the fifteenth century clergymen were the only educated class. They were accepted as authority on all subjects. But in the Renaissance men and women all over Europe began to think for themselves. Many came from the East into Western Europe, bringing literature, arts, and other treasures, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. They greatly helped in developing the new thirst for knowledge and the appreciation of human interests.
Many well-known artists arose during this period, their works would never be surpassed – Raphael, Di Vinci, Michelangelo, Leonardo, and others including a man named Guido di Pietro who later took the name Giovanni upon entering the Dominican order to become a friar. In Florence during the first half of the fifteenth century, this much loved Tuscan painter devoted much of his time to painting wall murals based on the life and suffering of Jesus Christ.
Giovanni’s work was so beautifully executed that after his death he became known as Fra Angelico – the Angelic one. It is said that when he painted the crucifixion for the Convent of San Marcos in Florence, he openly wept. This was a man drawn to worship through his artistic talent.
Also during this period something phenomenal occurred. The first book ever be printed was mass produced. It was called the 42 line Bible, or the Gutenberg Bible. It was named after its printer and with few exceptions all of the Bibles printed had 42 lines of type. For the first time ever, common men and women would have access to the inspired Word of God, the Bible, the most published book in the world. We have many in our homes, but do we take time to read and study them?
Today our text comes from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 17 verses 1-8, but we could read the same account in the Gospels of Mark, Luke and a reference in 2nd Peter. We read of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ. To me, this is the most beautiful image of Jesus Christ in all of the Gospel accounts.