Summary: Looking at the Transfiguration and Peter's remark - it is good for us to be here. Why our Church must move forward to be what God calls us to be.
The Transfiguration – Matthew 17: 1 - 13
As an introduction to the message, here is a little background to the transfiguration. I was not fully aware of what it was and what it meant so just in case I am not the only one, here is that background.
This is one of the most important, yet one of the least understood parts of the gospel. To me it encapsulates the essence of Christ’s ministry on earth. The Transfiguration is a pivotal moment, and the setting on the mountain is presented as the point where human nature meets God: the meeting place for the temporal and the eternal, with Jesus himself as the connecting point, acting as the bridge between heaven and earth.
Transfigure literally means to change shape or form and this is what happened here, Jesus changed in appearance before their very eyes. “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” Matt 17:2
Let’s try to make sense of what else happened here.
1. While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” vs. 5
This cloud harks back to the Shekinah cloud that is described in the book of Exodus.
By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Exodus 13:21
The cloud was a physical representation of God’s presence with His people.
2. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. vs. 4
Moses – The Law
Elijah – The Prophets
The Old Testament is sometimes referred to the Law and the prophets.
Both the Law and the prophets point to and find fulfilment in Jesus.
3. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, vs. 2
In the Psalms we read many times, “make your face shine upon us”, what does this mean?
• To turn your face
– Look away, show displeasure
• Show your face
– Look on, show pleasure in.
• Face shine
– Show His glory
– Bask in His glory – glory of His salvation
Here are some examples of this “Heavenly Brightness” in the Bible.
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. Exodus 34:29 – 30
I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude. Daniel 10:5 – 6
…among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. Revelation 1:13-15
I find it amazing how similar the Daniel and Revelation quotes are. They both are talking about Jesus, but were written in such different times and different circumstances.
I hope this helps give you some background on the transfiguration. Let’s move on to the message.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters - one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” vs. 4
What is Peter saying here?
Well first the scripture lets us know that Peter was not sure what he was saying, I’m sure I would be lost for words if I experienced what Peter saw. However, Peter seems to say, “this is great here, let’s never leave.”
There are generally two reasons why we change things in our lives.
1. Things are so bad here
2. Things are going to be so much better there
What if the first is not so true and the second is yet to be proven?
As a Church we are actively seeking God’s vision for the framework of Ministry here in Floreat. Maybe we ask ourselves – why would we change things as they are when it’s not so bad and things are not guaranteed to be so great when we change?