A. THE PURPOSE OF HIS GLORIFICATION
(Please read Luke 9:28-36)
1. Jesus came to serve; not to be glorified
This is one of the rare portions of Scripture in the Gospels, speaking of Jesus’ upliftment; of His glorification by His Father. Another instance was directly after His baptism when the Father spoke audibly from heaven, declaring Him to be His Son.
Over against these episodes, we read much of His sufferings; walking hot dusty paths to reach far distant places; buffeted by a violent storm while crossing the lake of Galilee in a small boat; sleeping in the veld when lodges refused to accommodate Him; the people of His home town attempting to through Him off a nearby cliff; leaders who slandered His Name, etc. That is the reason why He warned His disciples in the previous verses that those who wanted to follow Him were to take up their crosses and follow Him. His life on earth was not that of a king in a palace, cared for in comfort by devoted servants; no, He came as a servant to serve mankind.
2. So, why did the Father find it necessary for this glorification of His Son?
Firstly, I believe, it was for Jesus’ own sake. He was not only fully God, but also fully man and needed to be strengthened for the trial of the crucifixion that awaited Him. For a person to die on a cross with the curse of the sin of all mankind resting on Him, while suffering the attack by hordes of evil spirits and with God the Father concealing His face from him, is the most terrible thing that could ever happen to him. So the Father provided this event in His life to strengthen His Son and to prepare Him for that traumatic event. (We will recall that his first glorification when the Father spoke to him from heaven, also happened just before a major trial: his confrontation with satan in the wilderness.)
Secondly it was to give further proof to His disciples and through them to all mankind, that Jesus indeed was His Son.
B. The transfiguration of Jesus
Now let us take a closer look at what happened. Jesus climbed up to the top of a mountain where He would not be disturbed by people. Did He know what would happen or did He go there just to spend time in prayer, preparing himself for his approaching crucifixion? We are not told.
He took only three of His disciples with Him, because He knew it was going to be a very special time, holy moments. He singled out those that were nearest to Him in faith, love and obedience. This would be a special training course for his top leaders.
As also later happened in Gethsemane, He probably seperated himself from them for more a period of more intimate fellowship with his Father. There He prayed.
They, in turn, perhaps also had started off praying, but were overcome by fatique. God woke them up in time to see this supernatural manifestation of his glory. What happened was that while praying, Jesus was suddenly being changed into the likeness of a heavenly being. Mathew describes it as follows:
And He was transfigured before them. And His face shone as the sun, and His clothing was white as the light.
It may have happened during the night, which would have made it even more awesome. Even if nothing more had happened, it would have had an enormous effect on the Lord – strenghthening his faith for his coming trial.
C. The two heaveNly men and their ministry to Jesus
The disciples also saw two men, likewise clothed in heavenly splendour, conversing with Jesus. These were Moses and Elijah. Even though they had lived hundreds of years before and the disciples had never seen them in the flesh, their identity was supernaturally revealed to them. Why did God choose these two men specifically to strengthen his Son for battle? There were several good reasons.
Let us consider Moses. He was first in receiving God’s Law, that is God’s revealed will. He received it in condensed form on two tablets. During the following years he received it from the mouth of God in minute detail and penned it onto scrolls which were passed on to all following generations. The Law of God was clear on the issue that the one who sins, shall die. The Law however also revealed how a sinner could be saved by a blood offering. Moses would speak to Jesus of all these contents of the Law, pointing out the necessity of his crucifixion in order that the Law may be fulfilled. He, Jesus was to be that peace offering, that Lamb without blemish that would take away the sin of the world.
Elijah, again, was a prophet and represented the prophesies that had been made through the ages, both to the Jews and to the heathen nations. These prophesies reprimanded men for knowingly sinning against God. They pronounced God’s judgment upon them, but also brought wonderful promises as to the Saviour that God would raise up to deliver them and restore their joy forever. He, Jesus was that promised Saviour and had to die on Golgotha to fulfill these great promises.
Do it because you love Him and them.
So, what these men probably said to Jesus, was that because of his love for his Father He had to become his perfect Lam, his Promise Keeper, so that his words would be fulfilled. If He shrunk back, the Father’s words would be broken, his promises fall flat and He would be put to shame. All mankind would also be lost forever for the Father had no other plan for their salvation. Two most powerful and convincing reasons for strengthening his determination to do what only He could do.
They could influence others because they had been through similar hardships.
Moses and Elija also were two men of action. They directly confronted the representatives of satan, overcame them by the power of God and set free the people of God that been in slavery to the devil and to sin. So these men could, from personal experience, give testimony to the Lord Jesus of the power and faithfulness of the Father to empower a human being for his otherwise impossible task.
Moses was the man who had been instrumental in the release of the people of God from the power of the devil, working through Pharoah, the Egyptian, leading them out of slavery and into freedom. Likewise now Jesus was to break the power of Satan and lead mankind out of spiritual slavery to freedom.
Elijah had been a mighty spiritual soldier. On Mount Carmel he confronted the agents of satan, overcame them by faith, killed Jezebel’s false Baäl prophets and demonstrated the omnipotence of God to His people. Jesus would likewise fight and overcome the devil and all his evil spirits on Golgotha and so free all those who put their trust in Him.
You have all along been God’s chosen instrument for this task.
These two representatives of Scripture, the Law and the Prophets, unanimously spoke of Christ’s suffering and resurrection which were now about to be fulfilled. They were confirming that His coming tribulation was not to be seen as the greater power of satan, but as the fulfillment of God’s plan which He had in place even before man was created. These two mighty men were thus sent from heaven to encourage Jesus, the son of man for the battle that lay ahead.
Human beings can be better than angels.
It is also notable that men, and not angels, were sent to speak to him, because angels never experienced the struggle we as people experience here on earth. Moses and Elijah had both experienced similar bone-jarring clashes with the forces of evil and knew how to encourage Jesus with their words.
Receive with meekness and humility the Word which God is implanting into your heart
Note too, that although Jesus was God’s own Son, He was humble enough to submit himself to be encouraged by the sons of men.
E. To crown it all, his Father spoke to him from heaven
Out of the cloud that took away the two witnesses, the voice of God flowed, “This is my beloved Son; listen to Him!” What a wonderful peace it must have brought to our Lord Jesus Christ to hear His loving Father speak so well of Him. These words might have strenghthened Him even more than the words of the other two heavenly beings. What He heard was that his Fater loved him above all else and had complete confidence in him to fulfill his calling. Hallelujah.
You may still feel, “But why would the Son of God need to be encouraged; after all, He was and is God Almighty”. To this we can only reply by re-emphasizing that jesus was also fully human and in Gethsemane He cried out, “Father, let this cup pass from me, … ” . He suffered as intensely as any other human being would have suffered. No He suffered more, because He carried the guilt of all mankind.
F. THE EFFECT THIS EVENT PROBABLY HAD ON JESUS
The effect of this event was that Jesus stepped forth boldly to the cross and won the victory for us. Hallelujah.
Heb 12:2: … Jesus, … who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God.
Let us never underestimate the power of God’s Word to strengthen us for battle.
G. THE IMMEDIATE EFFECT ON THE DISCIPLES
Peter’s “brilliant” idea.
Eventually Peter recovered sufficiently to speak, but he was so overcome by emotion that he couldn’t think clearly. He didn’t want these blissful moments ever to pass. So he suggested they build huts for the three heavenly beings so they could remain right there – presumably forever! They, the disciples would then, of course, be able to share in there glory – forever.
But this could not be. Jesus still needed to be crucified to earn for us still greater glory by shedding His bloo. So the two men departed in a cloud – mission completed. The cloud was symbolic of the presence of God. They had, had their share of suffering on earth and were now in heaven where they would never suffer again.
When the disciples saw the two men disappear into the cloud, their joy turned to fear (9:34). Why? Having seen these heavenly beings and experienced their glory, they might have become intensely aware of their own depravity of grace.
We often read that Jesus’ disciples were afraid. They were strong men, fishermen who were used to a dangerous life, yet now they feared. Most people often fear. Why? Let us read 1 John 4:18:
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
From this verse it seems as if we are afraid because we are expecting to be punished. However the more we love God and and other people, the less we will be harrassed by fear. When love enters into a room, it drives fear out the door. Love is so much stronger than fear. Remain in the pervaiding presence of God till you are aware of his intense love for you. Then let that love drive out all fear.
If you are afraid of other people, trust the Lord to fill your heart with love for them and most of your fear will disappear. That does not mean that you must expose yourself to evil people. You will act in wisdom but will not be driven by fear.
H. THE LONG TERM EFFECT ON PETER, JAMES AND JOHN
How the faith of these three disciples must have been strengthened by what they had seen and heard. In later years, while ministering, they would always recall these holy moments. Peter recounted this in his letter in 2 Peter 1:17:
For He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
I. HOLY MOMENTS
One last remark; It was such a holy experience that they never mentioned it to anyone else. Every Christian who walks intimately with the Lord will, at one time or another in his life, have an experience that would be just between him or her and the Lord – too holy, too intimate to put into words and share with ohers.
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