February 18, 2018 Speaker: Rev. Brandon Eggar Series: The Gospel according to Luke: Encountering the Real Jesus
Due to technical dificutlies this weeks sermon was not recorded. The following is the text of the sermon from Brandon's notes.
Our Scripture reading this morning is taken from Luke chapter 9 and verses 28-36, verses which tell the story of Jesus’ Glorious Transfiguration…of the time when his appearance was dramatically changed on a mountain. So, Luke chapter 9 and for context’s sake we’ll begin reading in verse 27. Let us now hear God’s Word. (READ)
Well, if you were with us last time you’ll recall that in looking at verses 18-27 of chapter 9, we considered three things. First, we considered Peter’s Confession, that is, his confession that Jesus and Jesus alone is the anointed King, the King who’s come to redeem God’s people and restore to God’s world. Second, we considered Jesus’ Clarification of Peter’s Confession. For although Peter believed that Jesus was the Messiah, he, and the rest of the disciples, hadn’t yet come to grips with the reality of what it meant for Jesus to actually be the Messiah, for they didn’t yet understand that because Jesus is the Messiah he must suffer and die, for only through his death can we be redeemed. And then third we considered Jesus’ Call to Discipleship, for to follow the crucified Jesus entails being willingly to deny oneself and to take up one’s cross, for it’s not just a cross for Jesus; it’s also a cross for his followers. So, the confession, the clarification and the call…and all of it centered on the cross.
But here’s we need to recognize: as central as the cross is, the cross doesn’t get the final word. Yes, Jesus must die, but he must also be raised, and that’s why in the very midst of all this talk of suffering and death are words that spoke of resurrection and glory and the Kingdom of God.
- Look at the end of verse 22. Jesus says…On the third day I’ll be raised from the dead.
- And then in verse 26…The Son of Man will come in his glory and the glory of his Father and of the holy angels.
- And then finally in verse 27…But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.
The victory of his resurrection…the glory of his return…and the manifestation of his Kingdom.
These are the promises Jesus gave amidst all the talk of the cross and its necessity. And it’s the last of these promises in verse 27…the one about some standing there who wouldn’t taste death until they’d seen the Kingdom of God; it’s this promise that actually sets up the stupendous event known as Jesus’ Transfiguration.
Now I said last week that I think verse 27 is ultimately speaking, not about the event we’re considering this morning. Rather, I think it’s ultimately speaking about the events of Jesus’ resurrection and to the coming gift of his Spirit. For you see, when Jesus came forth from the grave, God’s Kingdom was unleashed in the world, and then on the Day of Pentecost, when he poured out his Spirit on the Church, God’s Kingdom was made available to all who trust in Jesus. And therefore, I don’t think verse 27 is speaking directly about the Transfiguration; however, that doesn’t mean verse 27 isn’t related to the Transfiguration. So what’s the relationship? Well, it’s this…Jesus’ Transfiguration was a preview of his Resurrection and of Pentecost. It was a sneak peak of God’s coming Kingdom, his Kingdom that’s embodied in the person of Jesus, for in the Transfiguration Jesus gave three of his disciples a foretaste of what’s to come post-crucifixion when Jesus would be seen and known as the true Lord whose conquered sin and death. And therefore on that mountain, Peter and John and James got a glimpse of the glory that was to come after the cross.
Now in looking at the details of the Transfiguration there are three things I want us to see.
THE GIFT OF THE TRANSFIGURATION (v. 28)
And the first is this: I want us to see is that the Transfiguration was a…Gift, a gift given by Jesus to three of his disciples, the three disciples who formed the inner-circle of the Twelve.
Now we just can imagine how these disciples must’ve felt after hearing Jesus speak about the necessity of the cross. We can imagine them being perplexed and pained and even overwhelmed, so much so that they would’ve entirely missed Jesus’ words about his resurrection and his glory and of seeing God’s Kingdom. And because he knew this, Jesus chose to lead the core of the Twelve, eight days after his words about the cross, up on a mountain in order to give them a vision of he truly is…to give them a taste of his coming glory, a taste meant to encourage and sustain them even amidst all the terrifying news about the cross. And seen in this way, Jesus led Peter and John and James up a mountain because he knew what they needed most. He knew they needed a gracious glimpse of his glory.
And my friends, the same is true for us. For what we need most when we find ourselves dejected and downcast is a renewed sight of Jesus, who is the Lord of Glory. In the midst of our pain and perplexity we need again and again to perceive who Jesus truly is. We need to see him as the all-powerful Lord who holds our lives in his hands and who’s promised to never leave us nor forsake us. For you see, the only way we can bear the cross that Jesus calls each us to bear is if we’re given a sight of Jesus’ supremacy and sufficiency, his supremacy and sufficiency that’s able to shine and save even amidst our personal scarcity.
And seen in this way…the Transfiguration was gift, and as a gift it holds out to us the promise that when we seek Jesus, and specifically when we seek him in prayer, for notice this whole scene unfolds in the context of prayer, for according to verse 29 Jesus’ glory was unveiled while he prayed. Prayer was the catalyst for the manifestation of Jesus’ glory. Point being: In prayer Jesus meets us in our need and in so doing he renews our vision of who he is…that he’s our Glorious King who’s with us and who’s for us, and seen in this way the Transfiguration is a gift.
THE ACTUAL TRANSFIGURATION (vv. 29-33)
But then secondly, we need to see…The Actual Event of the Transfiguration. So what happened on that mountain?
Jesus was Transfigured (v. 29)
Well, Luke tells in verse 29 that after Jesus had led his three disciples up on the mountain that the most amazing and unexpected event occurred, for Luke tells us that while Jesus’ prayed his…face was altered and his clothing became dazzlingly white (literally, they began to flash like lightening). On that mountain, Jesus’ face and form became radically different, so that he began to blaze with indescribable brightness.
Now when we read this we’re to hear the echoes of what happened to Moses in Exodus 33 and 34. We’re to hear the echoes of the time, when on a mountain, Moses prayed that God would show him his glory. And how’d God respond? Well, he told Moses that…he’d make all his goodness pass before him. But to this he added…however, you can’t see my face, for a human shall not see me and live. For a human being can’t look directly into the face of God and survive, and so rather than revealing himself face to face, God gave Moses a veiled glimpse of his goodness, and as result of seeing God’s goodness we’re told that…the skin of Moses’ face shined and it shined so brightly that he had to cover his face, for the people were afraid to come near him.
Moses’ face shined and now here too, on this mountain, Jesus’ face shined. And what Luke wants us to see is the connection as well as the contrast between Moses and Jesus. The connection? Well, Jesus is the new Moses. And the contrast? Well, Jesus is greater than Moses. And how do we see this in the story? Well in this way, for you see, Moses’ face shone because it was reflecting the glory of God. As the moon reflects the light of the sun, so Moses’ face reflected God’s glory. But here in the Transfiguration, Jesus’ face and form weren’t merely reflecting God’s glory. No, they were revealing God’s glory. For God’s glory wasn’t something Jesus received; rather it was something he possessed, for glory, goodness, beauty, majesty and splendor are intrinsic to the very person of Jesus, for out of him God’s glory shines forth and pours out!
And one of things we need to recognize is this: The Transfiguration occurred not because Jesus pulled back his humanity so that his glory could be seen…as if his humanity was a barrier to the revelation of God’s glory. No, the picture Luke paints here is one where God’s glorious brightness actually pierced through Jesus’ humanity, which means his flesh didn’t disappear in the Transfiguration; rather it became translucent, so that his humanity became the very vehicle through which God displayed his glory.
Now you need to think this through, for God had told Moses that no one could see his face and live. We creatures, and sinful creature at that, can’t handle a direct sight of God’s glory. But what if God became a human? What if God had a human face? Well, then we could look at him face to face. We could then see his glory and live. We could gaze at it and actually be changed by it, for as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3.18…And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image, from one degree of glory to another.
Do you want to see the transforming glory of God? Then the Transfiguration says…look no further than Jesus, for he, as the writer of Hebrews tells us…is the very radiance of the glory of God.
The Conversation (vv. 30-31)
So on the mountain Jesus was revealed to be the glorious God in the flesh, but that’s not all that happened on the mountain, for there was also an amazing appearing and subsequent conversation. Verse30…And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
Now why Moses and Elijah? Well, because these men were the Two Great Representatives of the Old Testament…Moses representing the Law and Elijah representing the Prophets. And as the chief representatives of the Old Testament they were also the two great pointers, pointing away from themselves, so as to point ahead to the ultimate Deliverer to come; who’s none other than Jesus. And in this way, their presence on the mountain was a vivid reminder that the entire story of Old Testament finds its fruition and fulfillment in Jesus. Jesus is the heart of the Old Testament, for it’s centered upon him and it’s all about him. It points to him and it’s to be interpreted through him. You can’t read the Old Testament rightly apart from the lens of Jesus. And that’s one reason Moses and Elijah appeared.
But there’s another reason they appeared, and it has to do with the fact that both of these men were, in a sense, spared a normal death. For Elijah, rather than dying, was taken up in a chariot of fire. And Moses, although we’re told at the end of Deuteronomy, did indeed die; we’re also told that he was mysteriously buried by God himself, and that no one ever knew the exact location of his burial. It’s as if one day he went walking and never returned. And this mystery led many to say that Moses, like Elijah, had been spared a normal death and was transported directly into Heaven. Now why does this matter?
Well, what were these three conversing about? Well, they were conversing about Jesus’ departure, and the word ‘departure’ is literally translated… ‘Exodus;’ and it refers to Jesus’ impending death. Two men who’d been “spared death” were talking with the One who came to suffer death…who’d suffer death in order to accomplish the true Exodus for the people of God, so that through his death you and I might be spared the finality and full consequence of death, for Jesus gave himself over to death that he might overcome death, and in overcoming death he might free us from death and in so doing deliver us from the domain of darkness, so as to bring us into God’s restoring and healing. For Jesus’ exodus on the cross was his exodus into his resurrection, which means for us that his departure is our deliverance. His death is our life. His crucifixion is our resurrection. Therefore, let none fear death, for the death of Jesus has set us free. And it’s these sorts of things that Jesus spoke about with Moses and Elijah on the mountain.
And what an amazing conversation it must’ve been! Had we been there I think we’d have been utterly speechless, that is unless we’re like Peter who just felt the need to speak if when he had no idea what he was speaking about.
Peter’s Comment (vv. 32-33)
Look at verses 32-33…Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, (while Jesus was transfigured and as he conversed with Moses and Elijah, the disciples were taking a nap! They were drowsy and their senses were dulled), but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the two men were departing from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it’s good that we’re here. Let’s make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” And then Luke adds…not knowing what he said.
Now at first I think Peter was simply expressing his amazement at this dramatic event…It’s a marvelous thing that we’re here. And it was. To see Jesus transfigured; to witness the appearance of Moses and Elijah. It would’ve been good to be there. And you see if that’s all Peter had said then everything would’ve been fine. But that’s not all he said and in the rest of what he said he proved his ignorance. And of what was he ignorant? Well, he was ignorant of who Jesus really is, for he could only see Jesus as an equal with Moses and Elijah…let’s build three tents, one for you, one for him and one for him.
But Peter also showed his ignorance in that he wanted to capture and control this moment. For rather than seeing the Transfiguration as a preview of glory, Peter wanted to it be a perpetual. Point being: Peter wanted the glory, but he wanted it without the cross. “Jesus, let’s just stay here forever and forget all this talk about you having to die and about us having to take up our cross. It’s good that we’re here now, so let’s just stay here forever”.
But what would’ve happened if they’d stayed on the mountain? Well, then the full glory that Jesus came to bring would never have come. For the only way Jesus can reveal the full and saving glory of God was if he descended into the valley of the cross. For the only way God’s glory can flood the earth and fill our lives is if Jesus is first stripped of his glory on the cross…to be stripped of it so that we might share in the glory of his resurrection and in the glory of receiving his Spirit, for again the Transfiguration was a foretaste of what was to come. So yes, it was good that they were there, but it wasn’t good that they remain there, for Jesus must go to the cross, for only through his humiliation can he (and we with him) enter into his exaltation; first the cross and then the glory.
THE IMMPLICATION OF THE TRANSFIGURATION (vv. 34-36)
And that brings us to the third thing we need to see and that is…The Implication of the Transfiguration.
For after Peter’s clumsy comment, Luke tells us that a cloud rolled in and overshadowed the mountain, and this was no ordinary cloud. No, this was God’s Glory Cloud, the same cloud that rested on Mount Sinai during the time of the Exodus…the same cloud that descend on the tabernacle in the wilderness and the very same cloud that filled Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. And now here it is again on this mountain where Jesus was. And Luke tells us that out of this cloud came a voice, the voice of God the Father.
Now this isn’t the first time we’ve heard this voice in Luke, for we also heard it when Jesus was baptized at the beginning of his ministry, when his Father spoke to him directly and said…You’re my beloved Son; with you I’m well-pleased. And there it was a word of love given to encourage Jesus to fulfill his ministry. And now here that same voice is speaking again at the turning point of Jesus’ ministry, but this time it’s not directed at Jesus, instead it’s directed at his disciples, for it’s a word given to them (and to us) so as to encourage us to keep following Jesus all the way to the Cross and beyond.
Now notice what God the Father said. Verse 35…This is my Son; my Chosen One; listen to him! This is my Son; stop talking and start listening. This is my Son; close your mouths and open your ears. This is my Chosen One, therefore cease trying to be in control and instead contemplate him not only on the mountain, but in the valley. This is my Chosen One; set your heart and your mind on him; listen to him.
And then Luke tells in verse 36 that…when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And that’s point. That’s the implication of the Transfiguration…for it’s meant to teach us about the centrality of Jesus. For from the Father’s point of view (and really that’s the only view that matters)…from his point of view it’s all about Jesus, about Jesus alone. For…
- Jesus alone has died for you that you might be forgiven and freed
- Jesus alone has been resurrected for you that you might be given a sure hope
- Jesus alone is the place where you can enter into the presence of God, so as to be embraced by his love
- And it’s in Jesus alone that you can see the glory of God…his glory that rescues and redeems and restores our sin-tattered and death-riddled lives.
So, let me ask you again: Do you want to see his glory…his soul-ravishing, life-transforming glory?
Well if so, then you’re in the right place this morning. For it’s first and foremost in corporate worship that Jesus leads up the mountain where we, we who are awake and wide-eyed, might gaze upon his glory and his beauty…
- To gaze upon him as we listen to his voice as it’s spoken to us in his Word
- To gaze upon him as we give ourselves to him in love and gratitude
- To gaze upon him as we break bread and drink wine at his Table
- To gaze upon him that we might be transformed by him, so that we might look like him, and in looking like him, reflect him in the world.
It’s in worship, in this corporate prayer service, that we’re given a glimpse of glory. Do you come expecting to see his glory so that in turn you might show his glory? For it’s good that we’re here, but it’s also good that we go from here that we might reflect Jesus’ glory and goodness as we seek to faithfully follow him through the bright valley of the cross and in the glorious hope of his resurrection. So let’s listen to him that we might see him and show him. Let’s pray…
Recap from last week
The Gift of the Transfiguration (v. 28)
The Actual Transfiguration (vv. 29-33)
The Implication of the Transfiguration (vv. 34-36)