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52: Jesus’ Transfiguration

May 14, 2009

Major Text: Luke 9:28-36a; Matthew 17:9-13

Harmony Texts:

Matt. 17:1-8       Mark 9:2-8      Luke 9:28-36a
Matt. 17:9-13    Mark 9:9-13     Luke 9:36b

Outline:

  1. Jesus Prays and is Transfigured Luke 9:28-31
  2. The Blinded Disciples are Reassured Luke 9:32-36
  3. The Disciples Sight becomes Clear Matt. 17:9-13

Context/Discussion/Comments:

Jesus and His disciples are still in the area of Caesarea Philippi. It is believed that Jesus’ transfiguration took place on Mt. Hermon, which is near Caesarea Philippi, but some believe it happened on Mt. Tabor. The “about 8 days” in Luke is an approximation of the “6 days” in Matthew and Mark. This does not pose a problem because Luke’s “8 days” could be referring to the time since Peter’s confession and the “6 days” could be referring to the time since Jesus taught on His future death and resurrection. In this one week period of time Jesus has really given the disciples something to think about. “Who do you say that I am?” “I am going to suffer, die, and be raised again in three days.” And now He is going to be transfigured before three of His most dedicated disciples. As we have stated in some of the previous lessons, Jesus has really begun concentrating His ministry on building His disciple’s faith. To do so, He gives Peter, James and John a glimpse of the future glory of His Kingdom. We too, as His true “born again” followers, can look forward and be assured of our own transfiguration when we die or if we are alive upon His return to set up His Millennial Reign.

The background and foundation to Jesus’ transfiguration is prayer. Jesus often went up to a mountain to pray. Many of the Gospel writings imply that Jesus spent all night in prayer. Decisions were made in the early morning hours about what was to happen during the day. All is quiet at night. One doesn’t have interruptions. One can speak and listen. Your prayer time or prayer discipline may be at a different time but it must be quiet, free of interruption, and be conducive to hearing what God has to say regarding your petitions. Mine is now in the early morning too, after I reached about 45 years of age. I naturally wake up with things on my mind which need to be shared with God and require His input, wisdom, and direction. If that happens to you, use the time to visit with God. Don’t worry about not getting your sleep. You may not get the sleep you think you need but you will not be denied your rest. God will give you rest. You will rise in the morning assured that God is involved, interested, and in control.

What I’m leading up to is the point that meeting God in prayer at a time when we can converse without interruption and where we can hear Him speak enables us to also be transfigured. Instead of transfigured, let’s use the synonym transformed. True, we were transformed when we were “born again”. We became new creatures in Christ. His Holy Spirit came to dwell within us. But God desires to meet with us regularly. He wants our fellowship and we want His. He wants to calm our fears, solve our concerns, direct our paths, give us His wisdom, and provide us with assurance that all is well and that He is Sovereign. We may come before Him thinking just the opposite but we are to leave conformed to His will and His way. Therefore, we are transformed through prayer in the power of His presence. He will be that bright light in what we claim is our dark hour. We can put our trust in Him. We can approach the day, transformed, knowing that all is well, that all is in His hands. It may take more than one meeting with God. Remember, He can transform us only as much as we yield to Him, only as much as we are willing to listen to Him.

The three disciples woke up from their sleep and saw Jesus transformed and talking to Moses and Elijah. It was blinding bright. Peter suggests that they build booths, probably so that the brightness can be covered and so that they could come there again to meet Jesus and these great prophets. He was confused about what he saw. He may have thought this to be a permanent phenomenon. Instead, God envelops all of them in a cloud. He envelops all of them in His arms. Now the disciples can get closer and they hear God’s still small voice say “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him”. We are to do likewise, allowing ourselves to be engulfed in God’s arms so we can hear Him.

Jesus and the three disciples return off the mountain. Jesus tells them not to say a word about what happened until after His resurrection. Jesus’ transfiguration was special, sacred, and they were not to “lord” it over the other disciples until they envisioned the same phenomenon upon Christ’s resurrection. There are questions on the way down such as “If you are the Son of God, why isn’t Elijah coming down with us to prepare the way?” Jesus explains that John the Baptist was the “Elijah” preparing the way. I’m sure they had heard this before [see Lesson 32] but now they understand.

Lessons/Applications:

  1. Others will be convinced that Jesus is the Son of God through the confident, consistent testimony seen in the transformed lives of believers.
  2. Be assured that God has the power to transfigure [transform] us into His presence. The “glow” in our hearts caused by His transfiguration gives hope to all who believe.
  3. Genuine, humble, earnest prayer to God will, in one sense, transfigure us too. His will and our will become one, unified. We will become like Him; sanctified, purified, Holy, and able to see things from God’s perspective. We are able to enter His Glory and return to glorify His Name. We may not shine but we will be changed. Be consistent and disciplined in praying.
  4. We may come to God in our confusion, lack of understanding, frightened, and in a chaotic state of mind. We may say and ask things while praying that make no sense, especially to God. That’s OK because He will answer. His answer will be one of assurance, calming our fears. His answer will make sense. Listen for and listen to God’s answer.
  5. When we listen to God, the things that confuse us will suddenly become clear. It will be a memorable and sacred moment. The Spirit of God and our spirit will become one. It will become a moment of private and personal worship for us.

“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is;

His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Romans 12:2b

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