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Sermon (26-Feb): "Jesus Reimaged!" Matthew 17:1-9

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Matthew 17:1-9 (SLIDE)
1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.
3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified.
7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.”
8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Big Idea:
(SLIDE) The objective of this message is to see the impact of Jesus’ transfiguration on the disciples’ and our lives
(SLIDE) And…then there were three
- As I think on this passage, I think about Peter, James and John
- This account is in all the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke)
- And it seems as each has a slight variation to it but most importantly… these three were there on purpose
- All the disciples had meaning to Jesus—yet,
- We see that there were a number of times that Jesus was with these three which some would call, His inner circle
- They were with him when He raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead
- They were with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane
- And, they are with Him now…when He’s transfigured or changed before their eyes
- Some have wondered why these three…Peter, James, and John
- When I think of the three…years ago, I used to be critical of one in particular, Peter
- It always seemed as if Peter was either saying this or doing that
- Whether it was telling Jesus that he would never leave Him and be with Him to the end or
- Cutting off the ear of a soldier
- Peter frequently stood out among the disciples
- Then you look at the brothers—James and John—the Sons of Thunder
- First, what we know about James is he happens to be the first disciple/apostle martyred in the Book of Acts
- Both he and his brother John wanted to sit at Jesus’ right hand
- Their mother even advocated for them
- Later, John would pen arguably the most significant gospel of the four
- Self-identified as the “one who Jesus loved;” John would be the last to die
- So, we have the first and last martyr to die
- And we have the most outspoken who wanted to be crucified upside down
- Jesus intentionally chose each of them—Peter, James and John as well as the remaining disciples
- And, if we know anything about God and Jesus…It’s this
- There are no mistakes in God’s selection or plan
- It does not always line up with our rationale and reasoning
- But it does not make it any less true
- Reading the Gospels today can kind of throw you off
- Possibly because every single day of the three/three and a half years isn’t accounted for
- It’s not detailed but I can only imagine how everything played out in real time
- I imagine very few slow days but look at the days where the five thousand are fed
- The days where the deaf were healed and the blind received sight
- The disciples experienced some of history’s greatest moments
Transition: And, Jesus was right at the center of it but what about the disciples
The Disciples Were Learning That This Was Not Going to Go As Expected (SLIDE)
- There are so many times in the Gospels where we see that the disciples had no clue
- In their time following Jesus, they witnessed miracles
- Jesus walking on the water; Jesus healing a woman with the issue of blood
- But it’s not solely about the miracles He performed
- He challenged the religious system of His time and not in a cultish way
- He righteously challenged the Sanhedrin, Pharisees, and Sadducees…their beliefs and practices
- See, it’s one thing to stand for what’s right
- It’s another thing to stand righteously
- Not perfectly but righteously
- Standing righteously is knowing that it does not all rest nor begin or end with you
- And, we can thank God that it doesn’t
- Jesus stood knowing that God had His back
- Can you and I say the same?
- Now, admittedly so, we miss the mark sometimes… inadvertently
- Then there are those advertent, intentional/intended times
- I know all too well about those times
- Times where I was faithless, yet He remained faithful (2 Tim 2:13)
- The disciples never knew what they signed up for
- Years in, their life has been changed 100%
- Though their life had been changed; it wasn’t done yet
- Clearly it was not what they expected or were expecting
- Who would’ve expected to see Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah?
- Moses the one who God called friend…thousands of years ago
- He came as close as you can to seeing God face to face—
- The very one who was given God’s law for the people of Israel
- He wasn’t a mighty or spectacular person; in fact, he had a speech impediment
- In ways, he was reluctant, angry; faced insecurity issues, sought to please others
- Can anybody identify?
- Then you have Elijah…perhaps one of the most notable prophets of all time
- The prophet that challenged King Ahab and had the false prophets—the prophets of Baal—executed
- Yet, we also see Elijah running from Queen Jezebel
- Where God has to later question him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”(1 Kings 19:9)
- You see him bold and brave but you also see Him wondering if God is truly on His side on the other
- These two godly men; we see them on their brighter days and also on their not so bright days
- We all have them…the days we feel as if we are on the top of the hill ready to climb a mountain
- And the days when we feel as if we’re way below the mountain
- The days that we are challenged from sun up to sun down
- Moses and Elijah had both finished the assignment that God called them to complete
- Now, here, Jesus is talking with them both
- Possibly about what’s to come…think about it; Jesus said early in His ministry (SLIDE; Matt 5:17)
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
- So, we have the one who received the Law (Moses) and the “epitome” of the Prophets (Elijah)
- Along with Jesus…engaged in a full-blown conversation
- Naturally, Peter doesn’t hold back (17:4),
4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
Transition: Peter had good intentions—meaning shelter and reverence for the three—but…
Sometimes What We Have In Mind is Interrupted By What God Has In Mind (SLIDE)
- God had something else in mind
- For all of Peter’s good intentions, that wasn’t what God wanted at that time
- It’s always amazing when God’s plans meet ours
- And, even more amazing when His plans trump ours
5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
- I know some of us don’t like it and are caught off guard by God’s interruption like Peter
- This verse reminds me that when God speaks that I would do well to listen
- And, more so, when it comes to Jesus, I need to be ready to shift my thought process rather quickly
- That I need to be ready to change course and possibly drop my plans to adopt God’s plan for me
- It’s not easy for any of us to do; sometimes we have worked so hard on and invested so much in our plans
- Yet, we fail to realize that (SLIDE),
“True humility is able to look at God and proceed on.” – Watchman Nee
- Or I like what Francis Chan said which is is perfect in this case,
“God interrupt whatever we are doing so that we can join You in what You’re doing.”
- Peter, James, and John learned a lesson in humility that day;
- God had to interrupt what Peter was doing so that they all had an opportunity to join in on what God was doing
- There is no doubt that they were terrified in that encounter
- They learned that the Father’s eyes are always on the Son
- There’s a story (SLIDE)…
Years ago, [a man] took a break from his own ministry to care for his father as he died of cancer. His father had become a frail man, dependent on the son to do everything for him. Though he was physically not what he had been, and the disease was wasting him away, his mind remained alert and lively. In the role reversal common to adult children who care for their dying parents, the son would put his father to bed and then read him to sleep, exactly as his father had done for him in childhood. Bill would read from some novel, and his father would lie there, staring at his son, smiling.
The son was exhausted from the day's care and work and would plead with his dad, "Look, here's the idea. I read to you. You fall asleep." The son's father would impishly apologize and dutifully close his eyes. But this wouldn't last long. Soon enough, the father would pop one eye open and smile at his son. The son would catch him and whine, "Now, come on." The father would, again, oblige, until he couldn't anymore, and the other eye would open to catch a glimpse of his son. This went on and on, and after his father's death, the son said that this evening ritual was really a story of a father who just couldn't take his eyes off his kid. How much more so God?
Boyle adds: "What's true of Jesus is true for us, and so this voice breaks through the clouds and comes straight at us. 'You are my Beloved, in whom I am wonderfully pleased.'"
Greg Boyle, Tattoos of the Heart (Free Press, 2011), pages 19-20
- God faithfully had His eyes on the Son
- And, it’s not far off to think or better off to know…that He has his eyes on us
- Allow that to settle…the Almighty God has His eyes on you
- The times where we don’t understand God’s interruptions and may be “terrified” at what it is going on
- Jesus can always provide the comfort to us when we may most need it
- How significant His touch when we need it the most
- Author Don Bubna (Leadership, Vol.6, no.2) writes,
“Jesus didn't have to touch lepers. He could have been just as effective from a hundred yards away. But he touched them.”
- I know we think on the Jesus touching lepers and healing the blind
- There are times when it’s His simple touch when we are not battling an illness or sickness
- Maybe it’s other terrifying situations that we may be facing
- It holds true in different scenarios…one touch from Jesus can change everything
- And, to add to it, imagine if you can—once they touch Him, they look up
- What do they see? Rather, Who do they see?
- While terrified—sore afraid—they see the only One who can truly remedy that fear…Jesus
- For me, I picture those times when I have felt terrified of what MAYhappen
- In my mind’s eye, I picture God and Him working it out
- When you see God work it out, it encourages you to press on
- It fuels your faith for another time when you will need it again
- And you will; because as a believer, we move from faith to faith
- Many times, what we face, helps to build our faith
- I wish we were born with perfect faith
- But our faith needs to continually be strengthened to encourage us in life
- This was perfect for the disciples…left alone with Jesus to encourage them
- I choose to believe that their faith increased that day
- It may not have seemed that way to them but witnessing what they did;
- It let them know they were following the right One and what they saw was a foretaste of what was to come
- As I’m closing, Jesus transfigured, Jesus reimaged is what we look to see
- What Peter, James, and John saw is what we want to see minus being terrified
- Still, the awesomeness of Who Jesus is enough to do that
- As we open ourselves to the truth that what we have in mind will never upstage what God has in mind
- We ready ourselves that things don’t have to go as we expect them to
- We acknowledge that the Father has complete control
- Will you pray with me?
Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I ask you to forgive me for all of my sins known and unknown, I renounce them all. Lord Jesus, come into my heart. I receive you now as Lord and Savior of my life. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He died for me and arose and sits at the right hand of God praying for me, interceding for me. Lord Jesus, I give you everything. I thank you for saving me, delivering me and setting me free, in Jesus’ name!
24 “‘“The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’
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