In the Gospel according to John 14:1-4, our Lord Jesus Christ spoke to both His disciples and to us, promising His return:
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”
When we fully and truly understand the above, we will find no words to express how comforted and honoured we are, to be called sons and daughters of our glorious Father-in-Heaven, our God and the Creator of heaven and earth. It is only through Jesus Christ, the glory of the One, full of grace and truth; that we are brought into covenant with God. Not only are we accepted and loved unconditionally, but we also have absolute peace and security; for our hopes, destiny and eternal life are in the powerful hands of our Lord God Almighty.
In my prayer, our Lord of Truth spoke to me through Luke 9:18-36. It is a timely reminder that our life on earth is but a temporary dwelling place.
Luke 9:18-22 reads:
“Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them: Who do the crowds say that I am? And they answered: John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen. Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered: The Christ of God. And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying: The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
As the Lord finished praying alone, His disciples joined Him. The Lord asked the disciples whom the crowd thought He was. The disciples replied saying some people thought He was John, the Baptist; some believed He was Elijah; and others thought He was a prophet. On hearing this, Jesus asked His disciples whom they thought He was. Peter replied and said, “The Christ of God.” In saying this, Peter signified Jesus as “the Son of the Living God, the Messiah, God’s Anointed.” Jesus then instructed His disciples to keep to themselves all that He had explained about His mission from God; that is, His sufferings on earth, His death and His resurrection.
The Lord continued in vv23-27:
“And he said to them all: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gains the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels. But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Kingdom of God.”
Here, the Lord challenged His disciples and now, also us; that those who want to follow Him must deny themselves from selfish desires, temptations and worldly gains. It also means that we may need to endure hardships with patience and perseverance, putting God first, before all other things in life. To take up our cross daily, following Jesus, is symbolic of taking one’s own cross to crucifixion. It means that we must be prepared to face the risk of losing our lives for the sake of God’s kingdom, without fear and compromise. It means that we need to have faith that the Lord will raise us in His glory to eternal life and bring salvation, to those who believe.
Jesus warned the disciples against dishonouring Him and His Word. We must honour God with humility and yield to Him in obedience. We are called to abide by His Word which became flesh, and be a testimony of His truth and glory with boldness and courage; to suffer for it, when suffering comes, without shame or disgrace. The glory of God is threefold. Firstly, the Lord came in His glory, fully Man and fully God. Secondly, Jesus came as the exalted Messiah; the glory of God. Thirdly, He is the beloved and only begotten son of God, the Father, who commits to Him the judgement and the glory of the angels who attend to Him.
When Jesus said that some would not die without seeing the Kingdom, He may have been referring to (1) Peter, James, and John, who witnessed the Transfiguration eight days later; (2) all who witnessed the Resurrection and Ascension to heaven; (3) all who participated in the establishment and growth of the church in the glory of God after Pentecost, as it spreads the gospel throughout the world until it is taken to all nations, before Jesus’ second coming.
Luke 9:28-36 continues:
“And about eight days after these sayings, He took Peter and John and James and went up into a mountain to pray. And as He prayed, the appearance of His countenance was altered, and His clothing was dazzling white. And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of His exodus, which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep. But fully awakening, they saw His glory, and the two men who stood with Him. And in their parting from Him, it happened that Peter said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here. And let us make three tabernacles, one for You and one for Moses and one for Elijah; not knowing what he said. And as he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them. And they feared as they entered into the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is My Son, the Beloved, hear Him. And when the voice occurred, Jesus was found alone. And they were silent, and told no one in those days anything which they had seen.”
Luke says about eight days after Jesus spoke to Peter, John and James (Matthew 17:1 and Mark 9:2), He led them up Mount Hermon to pray. As the Lord prayed, He was transfigured. Christ’s transfiguration was a revelation of the glory in which He will come to judge the world; and was an encouragement to His disciples to suffer for Him, just as it is to us today, when persecution of Christians is rampant in many parts of the world. Prayer is a transfiguring, transforming duty, which makes the face to shine; a glorious appearance. The word, “transfigured”, is later used to show the change which Christians must make to come into the likeness of Christ. To be part of God’s Kingdom, we will also have to be transfigured-transformed, by the renewing of our minds through our yielding to the Holy Spirit and by our obedience to every Word of God.
When Christ humbled Himself to pray, He was thus exalted. Moses, representing the Law, and Elijah, representing the Prophets; both appeared with Jesus. Then God’s voice singled out Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, who possessed divine authority. Luke reports that the topic of conversation with Moses and Elijah was Jesus’ exodus, suggesting His departure from the world. This confirmed Jesus’ decision to go to Jerusalem to suffer, ushering in the fulfilment of God’s plan, His death on the Cross. It is also believed that the conversation probably also included His Crucifixion, His Resurrection and His Ascension to Heaven. Indeed, the sufferings and death of Christ were what Moses and the prophets had foretold.
In v32, we were told that the disciples were “heavy with sleep.” Bearing in mind that this was in the night time, perhaps they were tired after their daily toil. However, they did not fall asleep while the transfiguration lasted. It could be during Jesus’ prayer, or possibly after that, that they fell asleep and it was during their sleep that His countenance was changed, and Moses and Elijah appeared. Upon the departure of Moses and Elijah, Peter suggested to the Lord that they make three tabernacles. One for Him, one for Moses and one for Elijah, but that was not what God wanted. Perhaps, it was Peter’s desire to build these memorials to commemorate the Exodus, God’s deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, the understanding that real faith is built on three cornerstones: the Law, the Prophets and Jesus. As he was saying this, a cloud, of the description of the Shekinah glory (The Glory of God) came and overshadowed them all. The disciples were then overcome by fear as Moses and Elijah entered into the cloud. Following that, they heard a voice from heaven saying: “This is My Son, the Beloved, hear Him.” When the voice was heard, Jesus was found alone. The disciples kept this vision private, reserving their testimonies and evidence of Christ being the Son of God until after the outpouring of the Spirit, and that doctrine was later published to the world.
The appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus signifies that the Law and the Prophets support Jesus in His messianic mission. Our Lord had to first suffer, die, and ascend to heaven. But one day, He will return in great glory to set up His eternal Kingdom.
The glory of Jesus on the mountaintop and the visions of the prophets combined to make it certain that the Second Coming is a living reality which all men must expect and for which all men must prepare. For as Revelation 1:7 says:
“Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him. Even so. Amen.”
Soon the Lord will come, to the terror of those who have pierced Him; those who have not repented; and all who have wounded and crucified Him afresh by their apostasy. Soon the Lord will come to the astonishment of this pagan world. When He comes, He comes to take vengeance on those who do not know God, as well as on those who do not obey the Gospel of Christ. Our Lord Jesus holds the same honour and power that is ascribed to the Father. He is the Alpha and the Omega; the first and the last; the beginning and the end; and all things are from Him and for Him. He is the Almighty; the same eternal and unchangeable God of all.
Let us examine ourselves and come before the throne of God in humility for Matthew 18:4 promises that: “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Yes, humility leads to greatness in the Kingdom of God and may we also be reminded that it is by His grace and mercy that God has brought us into His Kingdom for Colossians 1:13-14 says: “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Thank you, Jesus, for your amazing grace! Glorious is He who was and is and is to come!
Amen and Amen!