Matthew – God’s Purposes
It was a tradition throughout the Old Testament days to pile up rocks as a memorial on the ground where people witnessed a momentous occurrence or glorious moment of provision and protection from God’s hand or from hearing from God, Himself! When they heard from God, it was memorable time to say the least!
Our next chapter begins with a glorious scene on a mountaintop, and ends with Peter catching a fish in order to pay his taxes. What a contrast! Yet, Jesus Christ the King is the theme of the entire chapter.
Matthew 16, NLT
Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. 2 As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. 3 Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.
4 Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
5 But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” 6 The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.
7 Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus.
9 As they went back down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
10 Then his disciples asked him, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?”
11 Jesus replied, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, but he wasn’t recognized, and they chose to abuse him. And in the same way they will also make the Son of Man suffer.” 13 Then the disciples realized he was talking about John the Baptist.
The Transfiguration revealed four aspects of the glory of Jesus Christ the King:
1. The glory of His person.
As far as the record is concerned, this is the only time Jesus revealed His glory in this way while He was on the earth. The word translated transfigured gives us our English word “metamorphosis.” A metamorphosis is a change on the outside that comes from the inside. (Example is when a caterpillar builds a cocoon and later emerges as a butterfly.) Our Lord’s glory was not reflected but radiated from within. There was a change on the outside that came from within as He allowed His essential glory to shine forth.
In his gospel, John emphasized the deity of Christ and the glory of His person.
Warren Weirsbe helps us to understand,
“Jesus Christ laid aside His glory when He came to earth (John 17:5). Because of His finished work on the cross, He has received back His glory and now shares it with us (John 17:22, 24). However, we do not have to wait for heaven to share in this “transfiguration glory.” When we surrender ourselves to God, He will “transfigure” our minds (Rom. 12:1–2). As we yield to the Spirit of God, He changes (transfigures) us “from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18). As we look into the Word of God, we see the Son of God and are transfigured by the Spirit of God into the glory of God.”
Wow, did you get that? We are transfigured by this same power!
2. The glory of His kingdom.
At the close of His sermon about cross-bearing, Jesus promised that some of the disciples would see “the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matt. 16:28). He selected Peter, James, and John as witnesses to this event. These three friends and business partners (Luke 5:10) had been with Jesus in the home of Jairus (Luke 8:51), and they would go with Him into the garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion (see Matt. 26:37).
Peter caught this message and never forgot it. “We were eyewitnesses of his majesty. And so we have the prophetic word made more sure” (see 2 Peter 1:12ff.). The experience Peter had on the mount only fortified his faith in the Old Testament prophecies. The important thing is not seeing wonderful sights, but hearing God’s Word. “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” (Matt. 17:5).
3. The glory of His cross.
The disciples had to learn that suffering and glory go together. Peter had opposed His going to Jerusalem to die, so Jesus had to teach him that, apart from His suffering and death, there could be no glory. Peter certainly learned the lesson, for in his first epistle he repeatedly emphasized “suffering and glory” (1 Peter 1:6–8, 11; 4:12—5:11).
Moses and Elijah talked with Jesus about His “exodus” that He would accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke 9:31). His suffering and death would not be an accident, but an accomplishment. Peter used the word exodus in describing his own impending death (2 Peter 1:15).
For the believer, death is not a one-way street into oblivion. It is an exodus—a release—from the bondage of this life into the glorious liberty of the life in heaven. Because Jesus died and paid the price, we have been redeemed—purchased and set free. Our redemption in Christ is final and permanent.
4. The glory of His submission.
Peter could not understand why the Son of God would submit to evil men and willingly suffer.The Transfiguration was God’s way of teaching Peter that Jesus is glorified when we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. The world’s philosophy is “Save yourself!” but the Christian’s philosophy is “Yield yourself to God!” As He stood there in glory, Jesus proved to the three disciples that surrender always leads to glory. First the suffering, then the glory; first the cross, then the crown.
In his humanness on the Mount of Transfiguration Peter tried to tell Jesus what to do. He wanted to build three booths (memorials) for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah so that all of them could remain there and enjoy the glory! But the Father interrupted Peter and gave other directions: “LISTEN TO HIM!” The Father will not permit His beloved Son to be put on the same level as Moses and Elijah. “Jesus only” (Matt. 17:8) is God’s pattern.
We must be careful to worship and adore “Jesus Only” with our lives. It is easy to “worship” our church family, the building of memories where we found Christ, the places where we had epiphanies, our worship bands or choir directors, our pastors, elders who mentored us but we must stay focused to worship of Jesus only. All other things or people should only point us to Jesus. We worship Jesus with our very lives, 24/7, because He is THE Truth, Way and Life!
Listen to Him.
Dear Lord and Savior,
Thank you for making a way for us to come to our Father in Heaven with thanksgiving and praise. Thank you for all you have done, are doing and will do in our lives. Thank you fro saving our souls through your redemptive work on the cross for us. Thank you Holy Spirit for guiding us this day with strength and renewed faith with joy unspeakable and full of glory!
In Jesus Name, Amen
And I’m singing…
Oh, it’s joy unspeakable and full of glory
Full of glory, full of glory
It is joy unspeakable and full of glory
Oh the half has never yet be told…