Sunday, April 22, 2012

Luke 9:28-36 - The Transfiguration

Transfiguration of Jesus
Transfiguration of Jesus
Peter wrote about it in 2 Peter 1:16-18. He had seen the Majesty and beheld the Glory on the mountain, and it made the truth of Scripture surer for him than anything. He had seen it with his own eyes. Peter was writing about the Transfiguration, the passage we will study in this message.

Contextual Notes:
The Transfiguration with its prediction of glory is the natural sequel to the previous passage with its prediction of suffering, bringing to light the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. When Jesus had revealed to his disciples what he would soon face, then they saw his glory. In Matthew and Mark, the Transfiguration is seen as a preview of Jesus’ Second Coming glory, but in Luke, the emphasis is on the heavenly glory Jesus will receive at his exaltation to God’s right hand. Perhaps this is why the Transfiguration happens at this time in Jesus’ ministry. Just after Peter’s confession of Jesus’ Messiahship (Luke 9:18-20), Jesus reveals for the first time to the disciples the true suffering role of the Messiah (Luke 9:21-22) and calls them to cross-bearing discipleship (Luke 9:23-27). The Transfiguration is an encouragement and hope for the disciples for the dark days ahead.
Key Truth: Luke wrote Luke 9:28-36 to teach believers that God gives us the encouragement of His Glory to hold on and trust Him through difficult experiences.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about .
Pray and Read:  Luke 9:28-36

Sermon Points:
1.   God gives us the encouragement of His Glory to hold on and trust Him through difficult experiences (Luke 9:28-36)

a.   Eight days after Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ of God, Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a mountain for prayer. Again, Luke shows Jesus praying at a significant point in Jesus’ ministry. Suddenly his appearance is transfigured with glory, with two visitors, Moses and Elijah talking with him.
b.   What is the Transfiguration? The word transfiguration means to change form or appearance. It is taken from the Latin translation of the Greek verb used in Mark 9:2 (metamorphoo) from which we get metamorphosis. The Transfiguration is the lifting of the veil over Jesus’ person for the benefit of Peter, James, and John to have a glimpse of his true glory, the glory He had before he came to earth and the glory to which he would return after his resurrection.
c.   Luke 9:28 – up onto a mountain to pray: None of the Gospels record the site of the Transfiguration, but Mount Tabor in southern Galilee or Mount Hermon near Caesarea Philippi are traditional sites. In the Bible, mountains are often places of God’s revelation. Moses received God’s law on Mount Sinai/Horeb. On Mount Carmel, Elijah saw the manifestation of God’s power over the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18)
d.   Luke 9:29 His face changed: Like the face of Moses which glowed from the Glory when he came down from Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:17; 34:29), Jesus face changes in the Presence. Paul points out that Moses’ glory faded, but the glory of Christ which we will receive is eternal (2 Cor 3:17-18). His clothes became bright: Like the clothes of angels and other heavenly beings, Jesus’ clothes glowed with the reflection of the Glory.
e.   APPLICATION: Is that true of me and you and people we know? When we are spending time in the presence of God regularly, our face changes. It changes from angry, upset, irritated, and critical to a contentment despite the circumstances, a joy despite the sorrow, a new perspective with better priorities informed of Scripture rather than the complaining and politics of the office and family. So what does your face say about how much time you are spending in the presence of God?
f.    Luke 9:30 – Moses and Elijah: Why these two? They signify the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah) confirming Jesus’ fulfillment of the OT Scriptures. Luke seems to make the point at the end of his Gospel in the post-Resurrection appearance of Christ on the Emmaus Road where Jesus began with the Law and the Prophets to explain to them how all these things must occur to fulfill the Scripture (Luke 24:27).[1] Both Moses and Elijah were known for their powerful miracles, and Jesus’ miracles recall their works: Moses, the quail and manna are recalled in the feeding of the 5000 and Elijah is recalled in the raising of the widow’s son. Moses once asked to see God’s glory on a mountain, but his request was denied by God then. But his face shone so that he had to veil his face to protect the people (Exodus 33:12-23; 34:29-35). Now, however, Moses’ request is granted, and he sees the glory of the Lord. Elijah stood to see the Presence of the Lord on Mount Horeb but only heard God’s quiet voice (1 Kings 19). Both men’s lives also ended unusually. Moses died alone, and God buried him in an unknown location on Mount Nebo and carried him to glory (Deut 34:6), and Elijah went into God’s glory in a fiery chariot without having to die (2 Kings 2:11; Malachi 4:5).
g.   Luke 9:31 – his departure: The Greek word (exodos) is our transliterated word exodus. It would be fulfilled at Jerusalem. It can refer as a euphemism for death. Luke alone among the Evangelists tells us the topic of conversation among the three is Jesus’ exodus, a term which probably refers to the entire event of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension (Acts 2:33). Moses, who led the people to deliverance from Egypt in the first Exodus, now speaks with Him who will bring a New Exodus of deliverance from sin.
h.   Luke 9:33 – Three shelters: Peter interrupts and wants to build three tabernacles like are used during the Feast of Tabernacles (Exodus 25:9; Lev 23:43). Scholars have puzzled over Peter’s statement. Was he wanting to celebrate God’s sudden presence? Did he want to make the experience permanent? Henry Blackaby says Peter’s statement proves he was the first proto-Baptist. As soon as God moved, he wanted to build a building! Perhaps Blackaby was closest to what Luke meant, because Luke notes, “He did not know what he was saying.” Peter was notorious for speaking whatever came to mind. Sometimes, like at Luke 9:20, he was right on. Sometimes, like here, he didn’t know what he was talking about. I wonder if Luke has inserted some humor here. In the midst of a completely sublime event, Peter jumps up and says something ridiculous (I sure know how to do that well myself!), and the surprise juxtaposition of the sublime and the ridiculous is funny. Unfortunately, many Bible scholars, without any sense of humor, perhaps miss the humor.
i.    Still, Peter was saying something he should not have, and God the Father Himself corrected it. Peter was ignorantly offering equal honor to Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. God then speaks from heaven, proclaiming the uniqueness of His Son and His Divine approval of Him just as He did when Jesus was baptized and he fully embraced his mission, knowing what it would involve: his suffering, death, burial, and resurrection.
j.    Luke 9:34 – A Cloud appeared: The overshadowing cloud is a familiar OT symbol of God’s Presence. In Exodus 24:16, God’s voice called to Moses “from within the cloud” at Mount Sinai (e.g., Exod 13:21-22; 14:19-20; 16:10; 19:9, 16; 40:34; Lev 16:2; 2 Chron 5:13). The disciples’ fear parallels the fear of the Israelites at Mount Sinai, a common reaction to a heavenly visitation or divine act of power.
k.   Luke 9:35 – A voice came from the cloud: God gives the same message as at baptism, identifying Jesus as both the Messiah and the Suffering Servant. The Father quotes from Psalm 2:7 “This is My Son” (the uniquely related to the Father but also the Messiah descended from David) and Isaiah 42:1 “whom I have chosen” (which Luke will use again at Luke 23:35) and adds, “listen to Him” (Deut 18:15, where God warns Israel to heed the “prophet like Moses,” the new Moses to come; Acts 3:22-23). God calls us to listening faith. All these allusions point to a figure who is the Suffering Servant and the Davidic King of the End Times.
l.    Luke 9:36 – Jesus was alone. The Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah) are fulfilled in the Christ of God.
m. APPLICATION: The Transfiguration encourages us in two areas that I see. First pursuing God’s plan is always best, even if there are difficulties and painful experiences. Second, it is best for us to stick with God’s plan. It may be painful now, but in the end it will turn out for God’s glory and for our good.

[1] Later Luke mentions the Law, the Prophets, and Psalms, the three-parts of the Hebrew OT (Luke 24:44), but between here and there he adds information about Psalm 110:1 at Luke 20:41-42. Luke also makes a verbal connection between Luke 9:22 and Luke 24:20-21.