Summary: Of the Transfiguration of our Lord, God helps us to know why it was done for Jesus, the disciples and you and I.
Title: WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW WHY?
Text: Matthew 17:1-9
Date: February 10 2002
Wouldn’t it be great if you knew why God does the things he does, especially when it comes down to what is going on in your own life? If your loved one had to be rushed to the emergency room, I would think it would be so much more comforting to know Why God allowed such a trial to take place in the first place. At least it would provide comfort and be a reminder that God is in control. However, this is reality! Most of the time you and know what God is doing in our life, but we usually don ‘t understand why He is doing it. You know, for example, that God is the Lord of life and death. So when someone in your family dies, you know that God somehow had a hand in that. But why God lets some people die at a young age, or why God let’s death at times come in such a tragic way, that is not always easy to figure out. When Jesus was here on earth, most of us understand from the Bible what was going on, and why. Why Jesus came to earth, why he let himself be crucified—we understand, he did that to earn salvation for us.
Today we have before us the Transfiguration of Jesus. What actually happened there that day? And more importantly why? How does that tie in with you and me, with our faith today? What can we learn today that will draw us even closer to our Lord?
God spells out pretty clearly what happened that day up on the mountain but not so much why it happened. We read in our text, it says, “He (Jesus) took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.” Jesus prayed a lot. Particularly at special times in his life, Jesus would go off somewhere and pray. The next verse reads, “As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning”, keep in mind that Jesus is both True God and True man. Jesus did not give up his being God when became human. Rather, much of the time he simply didn’t use his godly powers. He did not show himself as God. But for this one day, he does. He shows himself there as God. This is why his body, even his clothes, become intensely bright, “Like a flash of lightning”, it says. That’s his holiness shining through. Most of the time Jesus looked just like anyone else. If he were sitting in a pew here this morning, you wouldn’t even know it was Jesus, not from his appearance, anyway. However, if he were sitting here in his transfigured form, I think you’d know immediately that Jesus was in attendance. He would be hard to miss.
So Scripture gives us information on what happened, but I believe it is good to know also why the Transfiguration happened, don’t you? Aren’t you curious? Don’t you wonder just why he chose that moment to show his Divine nature? I believe that after you hear about all the why’s, you will not only understand Jesus better but also you will yet again be able to see his love for you through the transfiguration.
Why did Jesus become transfigured at this particular time in his ministry? Would you believe that, for one reason, (1) it was to strengthen Jesus in his resolve to go through with his mission? You would think that the Son of God did not need strengthening but remember he lived in the flesh. He got tired. He got hungry. He suffered as you and I might suffer. He also had to deal with doubts, uncertainties of every kind, and we know that he even asked that his mission be taken from him at one time, when he said, “let this cup be taken from me.”
When Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, Jesus had thoughts of his death on his mind. It would be not too far ahead when Jesus would suffer and die in our place. And although Jesus was God, the flesh that he wore made it difficult to go ahead with his task. At the very least there was unease. You can be assured that one of the why’s of the transfiguration dealt with the strengthening of Jesus because of what Moses and Elijah had to say. Scripture says, “they spoke about (Jesus’) departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.” Moses and Elijah talk with Jesus about his up-coming crucifixion, and most likely what it is going to accomplish for us all. Therefore it is clear that God the father helped God the Son become strengthened when the glory of the Lord renewed Christ’s strength. It helped Jesus as a man say with newfound strength later on, “Not my will but your will be done!”