SERIES MESSAGE #3: “THE TRANSFIGURATION BEFORE THE PILLARS”
Originally preached November 11, 2012
Rev. Jeremy B. Stopford, Retired Pastor
Today’s “Special”: “Jordyn’s Joke!”
A duck walks into a store and asks the manager if he sells grapes. The manager says no, so the duck leaves. The next day the duck goes back to the store and asks the manager if he sells grapes. The manager says,”NO, we do not sell grapes,” so the duck leaves the store. The next day the duck goes back to the same store and asks the manager is he sells grapes. The manager is furious now and says,”NO, WE DO NOT SELL GRAPES! IF YOU COME BACK AND ASK IF WE SELL GRAPES AGAIN, I’LL GLUE YOUR BEAK TO THE FLOOR!” The next day the duck goes back to the same store and says to the manager, ” Excuse me, do you sell glue at this store?” The manager says,”No, we don’t sell glue.” The duck replies,”Thats good. Do you sell grapes?”
For two Sundays, we have been zeroing in on the Biblical lives of Peter, James, and John. The Apostle Paul in Galatians 2 calls them the “pillars of the faith”. Our Savior called 12 disciples to be His apostles. Out of those 12, He was especially close to these three. And out of these 3, John was soon to be called “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” We learned that the decision to call certain people to be His apostles was preceded by prayer – something we, too, should do on a regular basis! We also learned that He saw all people as just that, individual people with individual needs. And last week we learned about the “observation” of the 3 – and we asked ourselves, “do we see Jesus working – where you are?; in your heart? in others?
Today, a familiar story which appears in each of the first 3 gospels – each writer telling it from his viewpoint (just as we would expect from the eyewitnesses of a car accident). Let’s see what we learn from each one. PRAYER
#1—MATTHEW: JUST THE FACTS, MAN (17:1-8)
Like Sgt. Friday in “Dragnet” of old, Matthew, who appeals mainly to his Jewish hearers, tells the story of Jesus’ transfiguration. He gives us the basic facts:
* “6 days” (Luke says “8 days”) – basically the number of days between Sabbaths depending upon what was your first day of reference, because the Jews counted any part of a day as a whole day.
* The 3 pillars – Peter, James, and John – are by themselves with the Lord Jesus.
* Jesus was “transfigured” – the word in the Greek is “metamorphosed” – the SAME word used when a butterfly comes out of a cocoon. See 2 Cor. 5:17 where we become new creatures. See Romans 12:1,2 – the word “transformed” is the same word as here written “transfigured”.
* The clothes were as white as light
* There were Moses and Elijah
* Peter opens his mouth “to change feet”, as it were – he always talked before he thought.
* The voice of the Father giving His pronouncement of blessing upon His Son
* Seeing Jesus (v, 8) – in His glory is to be their “norm of life.”
#2 —MARK: BETTER THAN A LAUNDERER (9:1-8)
Mark writes his gospel from a servant’s perspective, so we should expect the references to our Savior to involve service.
In his account on the transfiguration, he says basically the same facts as Matthew.
However, he does add some interesting details about our Savior’s transfigured appearance:
* “Shining” – brighter than lightning!
* “white” – like snow. This should remind us of Isaiah 1:18, where when we respond to our Savior’s invitation, we are as “white as snow.” And it is said of those who are the martyred in the book of Revelation, that their clothes are white – just like their Savior.
* “Launderer” – a fitting description of Someone Who is coming to serve
#3—LUKE: TELL THE STORY AGAIN! (9:28-36)
Like Matthew and Mark, Luke, too, tells the facts of the transfiguration. But Luke is a doctor, so it shouldn’t surprise us that he gives us some descriptive details that are not in the other two gospels.
Luke zeroes in on the conversation between Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. What did they talk about? What would we think they would talk about – the desert? the chariots? the Miami Dolphins? No, they talked about the cross, and of Jesus’ upcoming death for sinners. This is what we are to glory in (Galatians 6:14)
What moved these three the most about what they saw? How can we find out? By checking the Scriptures! John’s book of Revelation is a testament to Jesus’ glory. By the time John wrote Revelation, James had been martyred and was in glory. And Peter gives us some insightful remarks as to how the transfiguration affected him.
2 Peter 1:16-18 tells us that the Transfiguration affirmed to Peter’s soul the uniqueness of Jesus alone, and the trustworthiness of the Scriptures.
Do we have that faith? Do we have that trust? We must answer those questions for ourselves!
CLOSE IN PRAYER