SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY
Passage: Luke 9:28-36
Jesus Transfigured on the Mount
“28 Now it came to pass, about eight days after these sayings, that He took Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 As He prayed, the appearance of His face was altered, and His robe became white and glistening. 30 And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him. 33 Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said.
34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” 36 When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found alone. But they kept quiet, and told no one in those days any of the things they had seen.”
Memory Verse: Luke 9:35 (NIV)
“ A VOICE CAME FROM THE CLOUD SAYING, “THIS IS MY BELOVED SON, WHOM I HAVE CHOSEN, LISTEN TO HIM.”
Lessons from Jesus’ Transfiguration (Part 1)
In previous editions, we thought about the confession of Peter that Jesus is the Messiah. Soon after that Jesus predicted his denial by the Jewish leaders and subsequent killing to the dismay of the disciples and further told them about what to do to become his true followers. He told the disciples and everyone who wants to follow him into the Kingdom of God to deny himself, take up his cross, follow him daily, lay down his life for Jesus’ sake and proclaim his name without being ashamed. In this edition we want to learn some lessons from Jesus’ transfiguration.
Jesus was about to die and exit from the world after his resurrection. He wanted to be sure his disciples knew who he was and that is why he asked them who they thought he was. The answer given by the disciples through Peter was a near perfect answer indicating their knowledge of him. However Jesus wanted them to know more about him so he thought it wise to take three of his key disciples, Peter, James and John, to a mountain where he usually prayed. The first lesson we can learn from this passage is that Jesus loved to communicate with his Father so he made time to commune with Him on daily basis through prayer. Jesus prayed not because he could not do anything without prayer; but because he wanted to teach us the need for total dependence on the One who sent him. Jesus showed that the Father is the Source of his power and without Him his ministry on earth could not be successful. What Jesus did shows that he acknowledged the Father to be the Sustainer of his ministry so even in his busy schedules he made time to meet privately with him.
There are many Christian ministers and lay members of the church who though believe God to be their source of life, wealth and ministry they do not make enough time to pray privately. They participate in almost every public prayer session, and even pray for many in public but do not make time to pray privately. Many Christians are so busy with their personal lives that they hardly make any time to pray privately. When we refuse to pray privately we destroy our relationship with the Father. Even though public prayer is important, private prayer is more effective when it comes to our personal relationship with the Father.
Every believer should understand that God is the Source and Sustainer of all life. Without him we are cut off from the Source of Life. We can be better connected through effective and consistent prayers. Any Christian who fails to pray disconnects himself from the Source of power for believers.
Apart from Jesus teaching us about the need to pray to get connected to God, the story of his transfiguration also teaches us to know that when we connect to God, we reflect the glory of the Father. According to Luke’s account, the appearance of Jesus’ face changed as he was praying, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightening (v. 29). This means that prayer does not only change things but it has the power to change the person who prays to reflect the glorious nature of God. Through prayers one is connected to the real Source of one’s being and eventually reflects the glorious image of God man was created to reflect. Those who refuse to connect to God through fervent and consistent prayers of faith hardly reflect the image of God He created us to reflect.
The truth is that those who pray consistently experience the inner peace and joy which emanates from God. This peace and joy permeates every aspect of a person’s life and eventually translates into his physical appearance. The sick person who prays overcomes the pain and psychological trauma which can affect his or her facial appearance and physical strength negatively. Those who worry about almost everything in life are more likely to develop health problems and even grow more wrinkles than those who worry less.
The Bible teaches that those who hope in the LORD shall renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31). It is through prayers that one’s hopes in the LORD are renewed and deepened. It is my prayer that believers will acknowledge the positive impact of prayer on ones’ physical and spiritual condition and make prayer a consistent habit. Prayer should not be offered in times of difficulties only. Prayer should form an integral part of our whole lives because it solidifies our relationship with the LORD God Almighty.
In the next edition, we shall look at other lessons we can draw out of this passage. It is my prayer that we shall not disconnect ourselves from the Source and Sustenance of life because of our prayerlessness. Instead we shall remain connected to the LORD through our consistent prayer life and be covered with the glory of God at all times.
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Lessons from Jesus’ Transfiguration (Part 2)
It is obvious that Jesus took the disciples to the mountain to help them confirm whom he is and also strengthen their faith concerning what he had taught them. As Jesus was praying and his clothes and face changed gloriously, something happened. Two prominent Jewish leaders who had exited the world many years before the coming of the Messiah appeared. They were Moses and Elijah. Moses and Elijah represent the law and the prophets respectively. God used them mightily to save his people in times of their hardships. They were messiahs in their times. For instance God used Moses to set his people free from Egypt. He also used Elijah to destroy the priests of Baal and saved many Jews from being killed or forced into idolatry. They are two people the Jews would have loved to see their tombs and honour them but God denied them. Yet they appeared with Jesus. There are several lessons to be learnt from Luke 9:30-31. Let us learn some lessons from this aspect of the passage.
The appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus confirms that Jesus is the Messiah the law and the prophets predicted many years before he was born. The law and the prophets predicted the coming of the Messiah who would deliver his people from bondage. The Jews were looking forward to such a messiah and that is why they thought Jesus was one of them when they saw his works.
Moses and Elijah’s appearance confirmed the authenticity of the Messiahship of the Christ as the Son of God. It was as if they came to tell the disciples, “This is the Messiah we talked about in the Old Testament.” Beloved this should be enough to teach us that indeed Jesus is not an ordinary human being as some may want us to believe. Jesus is the Son of the Living God as Peter had earlier confessed. He is the only one who can save us from our present and future predicaments. He is greater than even the greatest Jewish prophets . There is no one born of a woman who can be greater than our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. His arms are opened to receive anyone who acknowledges him and comes to him. If you have not done so, take a step of faith today and come to Jesus. If you are already among his flock, remain in him always and you will never regret you did.
The appearance of Moses and Elijah also teaches that the world in which we live is not the ultimate destination of mankind and that even physical death cannot prevent mankind from reaching his final destination. It is clear that even though everyone knows Moses and Elijah have exited the world, they are still alive. Whether they are in heaven or paradise, Moses and Elijah still exist but in a more glorious form. Their physical bodies have been transformed into glorious bodies, far different from ordinary human beings. This confirms what Paul thought in 1 Corinthians 15 about the resurrected body of the believer.
According to Paul, the body which is sown in dishonour will be raised in glory (v. 43). The glorious bodies of Moses and Elijah also depict the glorious place from which they appeared on the mountain. It is a reflection of the glorious nature of God as well as the glorious city in which they dwelled. It also shows that those who are faithful to God will continue to live gloriously even after their physical deaths. The same cannot be said of those who rebel against God. It is therefore imperative for us to remind ourselves that death is not the end of one’s life. The author of Hebrews states clearly that there is judgment after death (Hebrews 9:27). We should therefore allow ourselves to be ruled by God so that we can have a better place of rest for our souls even if we die before Christ comes again.
Indeed Moses and Elijah came for a purpose. They appeared to probably encourage Jesus about his impending suffering, death, resurrection, and final departure out of this world through his ascension. It is also probable that their coming was to confirm to the disciples everything Jesus had told them concerning his impending suffering. Moses and Elijah’s appearance as well as their discourse with Christ shows that everything written in the law and the prophets finds fulfillment in Christ. There is no contradiction between the law and the prophets because Moses, representing the law, and Elijah, representing the prophets, spoke with one voice concerning the Messiah. If Moses and Elijah came to confirm Jesus’ Messiahship as well as his suffering and glorification just as Christ had said, it goes to also show that there is unity and continuity between the Old and New Testament scriptures.
There is no contradiction between the Old and New Testament scriptures. The New is a continuation of the Old.
I feel sad when I hear some Christians underrating or even discarding the relevance of the Hebrew Scriptures. This is a complete misunderstanding of what Scripture teaches . It has been proven time and again that there is no book in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testaments) which does not have anything in connection with Christ. We can better understand the New Testament when we understand the Old Testament.
It is my prayer that all Christians will understand the inspired scriptures given to us by God (1 Timothy 3:16) and know that the “all scriptures” mentioned by Paul included the Old Testament as well. Let us not despise what the law and prophets teach us!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Lessons from Jesus’ Transfiguration (Part 3)
We have so far looked at some lessons from Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain. We have learnt about the need to pray in order to stay in constant touch with God. We have also learnt about how prayer can transform the one who prays. In addition we have learnt that the appearance of Moses and Elijah on the mountain with Jesus is very necessary for our understanding of who Jesus is as well as the relationship between the Old and New Testament Scriptures. In this edition we want to learn more lessons from the other sections of the passage above.
It is always very difficult to account for the reasons why Jesus chose to go to the mountain with only Peter, James and John. It is however probable to think that they were the closest to Jesus. They had a deeper fellowship with the Master and that is why the Master saw it fit to reveal his glory to them. It does not mean they were in any way better than the rest of the disciples. After all they slept while the Master was praying. This shows that it was only by grace that the Master chose to go the Mount of Horeb with them. This shows that they were only privileged to have been invited by the Master to reveal his glory to them. This privilege of being invited by the Lord has been extended to many people including you. Yet it takes only the willing hearts to accept the invitation and follow the Master. It is important to state that those who accept the invitation to climb the mountain with the Lord are the ones who can behold his glory.
We do not have to forget that climbing a mountain such as Horeb is not an easy one; it requires a lot of determination and endurance. It is only those who are willing to follow the Master (in spite of the challenges they face) who can experience the glory of the Master. Do not be intimidated or discouraged by the mountain of challenges you are facing today as you follow the Master; think of his glory which is about to be revealed in your life and endure to the end!
When Peter and his companions awoke from their sleep they saw the glory of Jesus and the two men standing with him. The Master did not want them to miss the reasons for which he took them to the mountain. He wanted them to witness a confirmation of what the Father was about to do in Jerusalem within the shortest possible time. He did not deny them that glorious opportunity because of their sleeping attitude. Jesus wanted them to be convinced of what was about to happen and to also strengthen them against the hard times. He also wanted them to be the ones to let the world know who Jesus truly was. So he gave them the opportunity to see, hear and taste the glorious presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The glory of the Lord which was revealed to disciples astounded them so much that they wished they would always remain in that presence. Peter made a statement suggesting that they did not need to leave that place, but rather build three tabernacles; one for Moses, one for Elijah and one for the Master. Peter said’ “It is good for us to be here.” Inasmuch as I agree with the author that Peter did not know what he was saying, there is also a very important lesson to be learnt from it. Peter’s statement shows the glory which is found in the presence of the LORD and the need for us to desire to dwell in His presence at all times. Peter realized that the glory which was revealed to them on the mountain at that time could not be compared with any other experience he had ever had. He felt the peace, the joy and the presence of the supernatural and became convinced that it was the best place to be. It teaches us that there is a feeling of awesomeness in the presence of the LORD. None of life’s experiences can be compared with the experience of being in the presence of the LORD. Indeed the best place to dwell is the presence of the LORD.
It is little wonder that David expressed great joy with those who invited him into the presence of the LORD (Psalm 122). He knew that in the house of the LORD there is liberty, peace and prosperity. He knew that outside of the presence of the LORD is chaos, suffering, hardship, sorrow, anguish and all the bad things imaginable. Peter felt it was unwise to leave that magnificent presence and go back to the foot of the mountain which was full of hatred, disturbances and confusion. He felt it was best to remain in the house of the Almighty forever.
This is also in line with what David said in Psalm 23:6. According to David he would dwell in the house of the LORD forever as he experienced God’s goodness and love. It also implies that those who dwell in the house of the LORD will experience His goodness and love. It is sad when some people look at church meetings as ordinary meetings with friends and loved ones. Some even see it at a place to make friends and not to encounter God. If all of us shall understand the importance of being in the presence of the LORD we shall encounter God during our worship services and desire to be in His presence at all times. May you experience the divine presence of the LORD as you faithfully worship Him today and forever!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Lessons from Jesus’ Transfiguration (Part 4)
I believe the LORD has taught us very important lessons from the story of the transfiguration of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In the last edition we learnt that our choice by the Lord to be his followers is a great privilege which should be taken seriously. Yet following the Lord requires climbing the mountain and those who endure to get to the top despite the various challenges, will taste the glorious presence of the Lord. We have also made the point that what Peter said was not necessarily bad. In this last edition of this series, we are hoping that the Lord will teach us more about this passage.
We have already made the point that Peter’s intention for them to stay on the mountain was not actually wrong. However it is obvious Peter did not understand that going to the mountain and tasting the glory of the Lord was a time to be equipped for the challenges ahead. This is something we should not lose sight of. When we receive new insights or renewed strength from the Lord, it becomes imperative for us to channel them into the work for which the Lord has called us. The strength and knowledge we receive from the Lord is not for our personal interest or to merely satisfy our selfish desires; we are supposed to use whatever we receive from the Lord for the good of God’s people to the glory of the Lord. This implies that whatever blessings we receive when we encounter the Lord must be extended unto others without asking for anything in return.
As Peter continued to speak, the LORD God Almighty appeared in the form of a cloud and enveloped all of them. It should be stated that the appearance of God in the form of a cloud is not new or strange. In the Old Testament God appeared in the form of clouds to Moses and the entire Jewish community on their way to Canaan. God took possession of the tabernacle in a cloud. When God took possession of the tabernacle, Moses could not enter it (Exodus 40:34-35). It was this same cloud which appeared in the temple and made it difficult for the priests to stand and minister (2 Chronicles 5:14). It is little wonder that the disciples became sore afraid when the cloud appeared.
This shows how heavy the presence of God is. Yet it is important to say that God will not cause anyone who walks with His Son to die because of His presence. Even though it was a fearful sight to behold the disciples did not die because of the presence of Master Jesus. We can say with confidence that no matter how dangerous the path may be, those who walk with Jesus will come out safely. With Jesus we are better secured irrespective of our personal weaknesses. I will want to entreat all and sundry to make Jesus their best companion. Those who make Jesus their best companion have nothing to fear or worry about.
God did not appear in order to frighten the disciples but to confirm to them who Jesus is and how mankind should relate to him. God spoke through the cloud to those gathered, especially Peter, James and John saying: “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”
The wording in Luke sounds slightly different from how Matthew put it. Matthew qualified Son with the adjective ‘beloved’ but it does not change the import of the statement. God wanted the disciples to know that Jesus is not an ordinary prophet as people were thinking but the chosen Son of God the Almighty. The notion that Jesus is an ordinary or extraordinary human being is still held by many who go to the extent of comparing him with prophets such as Mohammed. But it is obvious from the divine voice which spoke on the mountain of configuration that Jesus is not an ordinary human being but rather The Son of God. He is the Son of God not by birth but by a divine initiation.
This makes Jesus the most outstanding being which ever walked on the surface of the earth. This was to help the disciples to hold him in high esteem and to feel proud and privileged for being the disciples of the Son of God. It was to remind the disciples to renew their commitment to Jesus, follow him faithfully and endure the hardships which accompany being Jesus’ disciples. It is true that those who truly know Jesus are more likely to walk well with him. It is my prayer that we shall all get to know Christ better through his word and other experiences and be able to make him better known.
God did not only proclaim Jesus to be His Son, but He also demanded that we obey him knowing that he is the Son of God. The Father wanted mankind to know that Jesus is not an ordinary human being but His own Son and therefore carries his authority. This should lead us to the understanding that the word from the Son is the word of the Father and requires the obedience of all men. This implies that it is not enough to know that Jesus is the Son of God. What matters most is the obedience we attach to his teaching. Knowing who Jesus is becomes more meaningful when we learn to obey his teachings and commandments.
Unfortunately there are many people who have learnt and come to know who Jesus is but they do not obey his words. Many of such people can be found in our churches. Some are theologians, pastors, Bible teachers, church elders and lay members who have been attending church for several years.
Beloved inasmuch as it is important to study God’s word, it is best to learn to obey what he teaches us. Mere head knowledge about who Jesus is will not be enough to qualify us as true Christians.
May the LORD help us to be doers of the Master’s word and not mere learners of the Holy Scriptures!
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.