Summary: “A cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘this is my beloved Son. Hear Him’” Luke 9:34-35.
Theme: This is My Son, obey Him
Text: Gen. 15:5-12; Rom. 3:21-31; Lk. 9:28-36
Every successful student needs to listen carefully to what is being taught and also needs to read about what has been written on the subject. This makes what we hear and read an important aspect of our lives. These days, however, reading and listening have become very difficult things to do because of the many distractions that take up our time. These distractions come in the form of TV, video, computer games, records, CD’s and now the Internet. Today the average person spends very little time reading but we all still know that the most important thing about a book is not its cover but what it contains. You can buy a book with the most beautiful cover and never finish reading it because its contents are not worth reading. On the other hand you could buy a book with a cover that is not the least appealing and find out that it is the best book you have ever read. The value of the book is not in its cover but in its contents. In a similar way the benefits of what we hear depends on how we listen. You can listen and not understand what you hear because you are listening to too many things at the same time. How we listen is very important since almost everything we do is a result of what we hear. The Scriptures say it simply that “faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Hearing is an integral part of the communication process. But today we do not really hear what is being said because we are not listening. Listening requires a lot of discipline. It requires respect for others and their opinions. It requires staying linked to each other and learning about others. Just as it takes reading a book to know its contents and listening properly to understand what is being said, the value of a person is not in his or her looks but in his or her character. You cannot judge a person by how that person looks and many people who have done so have lived to regret it. To know a person you need an insight into the character of that person. You need to know his or her attitudes and behaviour. In today’s gospel reading God, as it were, opens the book for us to see its contents and speaks for us to hear. God allows us to see Jesus as He really is. He allows us to see the glory of God and to have a special revelation of who Christ is in the words “this is my Son, obey Him”.
The revelation of Christ’s glory as His appearance changed and His clothes became white and glistening in the transfiguration was God’s seal of approval to Peter’s confession of faith that Jesus is the Son of God. The word glory refers to the wonder of Christ in all His godly might and splendour. In His transfiguration Christ revealed the glory of God. The transfiguration was also the Father’s way of encouraging the Son as He began to make His way to Jerusalem where He would be crucified. The Father had spoken at His baptism before the beginning of His ministry and now speaks before the ending of His earthly ministry, both times to encourage Him. Jesus death was going to be a very painful one but beyond the suffering of the cross would be the glory of the throne.
“This is my Son, obey Him!” reveals Christ’s divine nature and exalted Him above Moses and Elijah as the long awaited Messiah. That we should obey Him confirms His divine authority. This experience of His transfiguration was a special revelation of the promised kingdom of God. It was God’s affirmation of everything Jesus had done and was about to do. The disciples at this time were confused about the kingdom of God because of Jesus’ words about the cross. Jesus by His transfiguration was assuring them that the OT prophecies would be fulfilled, but first He had to suffer before He could enter into His glory. Moses and Elijah were the two greatest prophets in the Old Testament – Moses represented the Law and Elijah the prophets. Moses had delivered Israel out of bondage to Egypt and Elijah had delivered them from bondage to false gods. But Jesus would die to set a sinful world free from bondage to sin and death. Their appearance and their sudden disappearance leaving Jesus alone showed Jesus as the fulfilment of both the Old Testament Law and the prophetic promises. Seeing Jesus in His glory was to strengthen the disciples and prepare them for what Jesus and they would go through. James was the first to be martyred and this experience must have been tremendously reassuring and given him strength. We have every reason to follow our transfigured Lord in faith and trust. As God entered into a covenant with Abraham and blessed him, so God has entered into a covenant with us and blessed us. But as Abraham walked by faith and trusted the Lord so we also should walk by faith and trust the Lord. Abraham was called a father of many nations when he had no child – when he was old and when Sarah was past the childbearing age. “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore it was accounted to him for righteousness.” The glory of Christ has been revealed so that we can recognise Him, acknowledge Him as our Saviour and Lord and follow Him in faith and trust. The experience of the disciples was a wonderful one but experiences are not the basis for a consistent Christian life. The basis of a consistent Christian life is the Word of God. Experiences come and go, but the word remains. Our recollection of past experiences will fade but God’s Word never changes. Our own personal ‘transfiguration’ comes from inner renewal, and that comes from the word. As we surrender ourselves to the Lord, He transforms us from within so that we are no longer conformed to the world but become more like Christ.