Summary: to definitively answer the question of Luke 9, “who is Jesus”, with God’s own answer; to encourage Jesus as He begins the journey to Jerusalem where He will die; and finally to demonstrate what can happen when we take time out of life to pray and listen
Who Does God Say That Jesus Is? Series: Breaking Boundaries
Luke 9:28-36 April 19, 2009
Most often, all it really takes to hear God speak to us is that we give Him the opportunity. Last Friday, Good Friday, we set up a devotional journey around the church called “Stations of the Cross”. It was a youth version, which I found shared online, and Ellen our secretary did most of the leg work for me, and a number of our teens and adults did the walk and heard God speak in powerful ways. At each of the stations we were invited to reflect on Scriptures about Jesus’ journey to the cross and empty tomb, and at several people were invited to write prayers. These are poignant and insightful and real and vulnerable and moving.
I had a number of people express gratitude for the opportunity, which was kind and encouraging. But really, it wasn’t nearly as much about the actual event as it was about simply carving out space for God to speak. I’ve seen this time and time again in my years of ministry – the “vehicle” is always less important than simply making the time to listen for God. When we do, amazing and life-changing and transforming things happen… like we will see in this morning’s study in Luke. And it might surprise you to see that the very best role model we have as far as carving out time and space for God to speak is Jesus Himself.
But before getting to Luke 9:28-26, I need to back up and refresh our memories. We’ve been following Jesus through the Gospel of Luke since Christmas, and noticing how Jesus broke every boundary that existed between people and God – He did so deliberately, powerfully, and passionately. And He did so with the intention that we, His followers, should also work to break down every boundary that exists between people in our culture and the eternal God of the Universe.
As we studied Luke 9, we have seen that the central question has been “who is Jesus?”. The question was present earlier in Luke, but chapter 9 brings it to the forefront. When we last left Jesus and His disciples, they were having this exact conversation: Jesus asks, “who do you say that I am?”, and Peter replied, “You are the Messiah sent from God!” (Lk 9:20). You might recall that from there Jesus went quickly to re-defining what it meant to be “Messiah”, in terms of suffering, which we saw vividly last weekend as we journeyed to the cross and the empty tomb. Jesus said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” (Lk 9:23). This is pretty sobering, both then and now. And whenever we are called to something really difficult, such as being a follower of Jesus that must “turn from selfish ways, take up a cross daily, and follow”, it sure helps to have a big picture, a motivation, a vision of why we would do this and what the end result would be. I think that is part of why what happens next, happens next…
Transfiguration: Luke 9:28-36
28 About eight days later Jesus took Peter, John, and James up on a mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly, two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared and began talking with Jesus. 31 They were glorious to see. And they were speaking about his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem.
32 Peter and the others had fallen asleep. When they woke up, they saw Jesus’ glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As Moses and Elijah were starting to leave, Peter, not even knowing what he was saying, blurted out, “Master, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 34 But even as he was saying this, a cloud overshadowed them, and terror gripped them as the cloud covered them.
35 Then a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him.” 36 When the voice finished, Jesus was there alone. They didn’t tell anyone at that time what they had seen.
A Needy Jesus? (vs. 28)
Do you think Jesus had needs? We accept that Jesus was fully human, and so we are comfortable with the idea that Jesus had physical needs for food, sleep, go to the bathroom, exercise, etc. What about emotional needs? We know He needed to cry at Lazarus’ tomb. We know He enjoyed going to parties. So how about the idea that Jesus needed a bit of encouragement on the way to the cross? Certainly we see that need in Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed for another way. But I think it is possible that Jesus the man needed something at this point in time as well. And we see what Jesus did about it: “Jesus took Peter, John, and James up on a mountain to pray.” He created space to be with God, He retreated to pray.