Oct 08, 2017 | Lee Becknell

A Preview of What is to Come

“A preview of what is to come.”

 Matthew 17:1-9

Theme: “The transfiguration is a miniature picture of the Kingdom. It is also a picture of what we will be someday, when we get our glorified bodies. Peter got a glimpse of what the child of God will be someday, when he saw Jesus transfigured. 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

The glorious prospect of being like Christ is before every person.

For some time now, we have been in a sermon series on the Ministry of Jesus Christ.

This morning we once again find ourselves with Jesus and what an experience we will share today.

A man was arraigned for murder in Los Angeles about 60 years ago.

It was a difficult case with a lot of circumstantial evidence. The man’s defense lawyer, however, thought of an ingenious ploy. In his summing up speech, he said: “Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, you must find my client not guilty of murder - if there is the slightest doubt in your minds that he is not the murderer.” And now I have one final witness. “The true murderer is about to walk through the door.” All eyes swung towards the door but no one came in. The lawyer continued: “You see, Ladies and Gentlemen, there is doubt in your minds, otherwise you would not have looked towards the door.”

The jury retired to deliberate and came back five hours later with a “Guilty” verdict.

The lawyer was beside himself and before the judge could pass sentence he sprang up and said, “But I proved that you had a doubt about my client’s guilt. How can you possibly find him guilty?” An old wrinkled man in the jury stood up and said: “As everyone looked towards the door, I watched your client. His eyes did not turn towards the door. He did not look towards the door because he knew no one was coming through; because he himself was the guilty one.”

In contrast to that Los Angeles Courtroom, where the star witness did not appear, this morning’s Gospel reading is all about a star witness who did appear.

And He came to answer the question that was on everyone’s lips: “Who is Jesus?” Who was this star witness?

He was none other than God the Father, who answered the question by revealing Jesus’ glory to the disciples Peter, James and John and by saying: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

This morning I would like to share with you the following thoughts.

1. Jesus only wants what is good for us.

Matthew 17:1-4, “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. 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.”

You Become What You Behold.

2 Cor. 3:18, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed in to his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

The key, Paul says, is that we “behold [see] the glory of the Lord.” In other words, we are transformed into his image by looking at his glory. You become like what you constantly behold.

The Greek word for “transfigured” is metemorphothe, from which we get the word metamorphosis. We use this word to describe the change that occurs when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.  Jesus’ “face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.” This reminds us of Moses at Sinai.

After his encounter with God, Moses’ face shone so brightly that the people were frightened and Moses had to wear a veil over his face (Exodus 34:29-35). The disciples know the Moses story and surely make this connection.

Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

2. Listen to Jesus.

Matthew 17:5, “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!”

“Listen to him!” Sounds easy right? But it’s not as easy as it would seem.

One reason why it’s not as easy as it would seem is that listening to Jesus means following Jesus.

And following Jesus means becoming like Jesus and doing the types of things Jesus does. It means being transfigured—like Jesus. And transfigured means to be changed.

Peter was an action man rather than a contemplative one.  Both action and contemplation are needed–and the trick is determining which is required at a given moment.

We who tend to be eternally busy need to hear that! There is a time for action, but there is also a time for prayer—for studying the scriptures—for listening—for reflection—for meditation.

Our actions are more likely to obtain the desired results if we first take time to pray, to read, to listen, to reflect, and to meditate.

The old adage says, “Haste makes waste,” and that is certainly true. Equally problematic is the fact that our busyness often stands in the way of clear thought. Also, it is often an excuse for avoiding close personal relationships.

“While (Peter) was still speaking” (v. 5a). The voice interrupts Peter—otherwise how can God get a word in edgewise?

God commands the disciples (and the early church—and us) to listen to Jesus. How do we find our way in an increasingly complex world? God answers, “Listen to him!”

3. Don’t be afraid.

Matthew 17:6-7, “When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.”

Fear is a common response when confronted with God or angels. “The fear of the Lord” is a common phrase in the scriptures and captures a sense of awe regarding God. The Jewish people revere God so highly that they avoid pronouncing God’s name lest they inadvertently make wrongful use of it (Exodus 20:7 10 Commandments).

Today, we have lost this sense of holy awe.

We are so fond of the idea that we have been created equal that we resist acknowledging that even the creator might be of a higher order.

When Loretta Lynn was chided for calling her old friends, President and First Lady Carter by their first names, she responded, “I call Jesus by his first name.”

Cute story! But, our loss of reverence is not harmless. It does not diminish God, but it does diminish us. The person who stands in God’s presence without reverence is far worse than the barbarian who is unable to appreciate fine art or beautiful music.

MATTHEW 17:7, “But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Get up, and don’t be afraid.”

Jesus has been restored to his usual self, and reassures his disciples with his touch. Any kind touch has the ability to sooth, but Jesus’ touch has the power to heal (8:3, 15; 9:29; 20:34).

“Don’t be afraid” is a frequent scriptural theme. Fear is a common human experience, but scripture includes Godly reassurances that God’s people have nothing to fear from God or man.

How about the fear of death. It was good for them to see Moses and Elijah. Great passage for a funeral. It is proof that we will be with Jesus when we die.

4. Only Jesus is our Savior.

Matthew 17:8, “When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.”

God acknowledged Moses and Elijah by having them appear with Jesus, but the voice speaks only of Jesus.

This is an uncomfortable view in a multicultural world—in churches that prize tolerance, sometimes as their highest value.  It is, nevertheless, the clear word of the New Testament. 

Jesus is much more than an acquaintance or someone you might know on Facebook, text message, Tweeter, etc.

Moses and the prophets are helpful, but in the end, there is only Jesus.  Science and education can be helpful, but in the end, there is only Jesus. 

Medicine can be helpful, but in the end, there is only Jesus.  Music and art can be helpful, but in the end, there is only Jesus.  Jesus alone!  That needs to be the focus of our proclamation.



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Series Information

There are so many things from Jesus. In this series, we will start as baptism and look throughout his ministry and see what parables he taught, miracles he performed, and what lessons we can learn from him and his life.