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Matthew 17:1-13

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Most of us have seen some of the talent shows that have been popular on t.v. the past few years. American Idol was one of the first. It was followed by The Voice as well as America’s Talent. This hasn’t been just an American trend, other countries have had their own versions. One of the hooks that makes you watch the show is putting someone on stage that looks like they shouldn’t be there and then shocking us with their talent.
Probably one of the most famous examples is on the show “Britain’s Got Talent.” A woman named Susan Boyle walked on to the stage. She was not what you would expect a person of talent to look like. She was questioned by the judges in a way that was a bit condescending. Finally, they leaned back in their chairs, preparing themselves to be unimpressed. Then she sang. It was, “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables. After the first phrase, everybody sat up straight. Jaws dropped. The voice did not match the appearance. Clear. Beautiful. Shock turned to smiles. Tears. Standing ovations. They saw someone transfigured right in front of them. It was unexpected. They did not see it coming. Susan Boyle was transfigured—that is, who she really was became known. She was not transformed—she didn’t miraculously become a fantastic singer when they gave her a microphone. What was already there but unknown, was now fully revealed.
When we look at today’s text, we understand that Jesus was not an unknown. The disciples respected Jesus as a teacher and healer. He was someone that could do amazing things. But, they had never seen Jesus as they would see him on that mountain.
We know who Jesus is. Most of us have known about Jesus our entire lives, but have we allowed ourselves to open our eyes to who Jesus is? Are we willing to recognize Jesus in his glory and be prepared for him to be at work in our lives and in this world in ways that we can’t imagine?
In the text, Jesus went up the mountain with only a few of the disciples—his inner circle—Peter, James, and John.
There, he was transfigured in front of them. It was not what they were expecting. I am guessing that in their eyes that this was another hike up the mountain to be in solitude and spend time in prayer. Jesus did this throughout his ministry.
There is something about being in the mountains and looking out at the surrounding land. It clears your mind, it reminds you of your place in life, and how small you are. It gives you the opportunity to put everything away and focus on the beauty around you and the creator that made it.
Yet, Jesus had more than just a place to pray and meditate in mind. He had a meeting.
There, before their eyes, Jesus was transfigured—his face like the sun, his clothes as white as the light.
And then, suddenly, more guests.
Before them was Moses and Elijah. The disciples saw Jesus in ways that they had never seen him before. Moses and Elijah saw Jesus as they always saw him. It is the same thing with the work of Moses and Elijah. Moses, who with God’s help, provided the people with the Law and Elijah, one of the greater representatives of the prophets in the Old Testament were talking with Jesus.

The Law and the Prophets point to Jesus.

What did they talk about? We don’t know. Why were they there? We don’t exactly know. We don’t even know how the disciples knew who these people were. Either Jesus told them later, they announced themselves, or the Holy Spirit identified them to the disciples.
Why there? Some have put a practical emphasis on the visit—these two important figures were there to encourage Jesus as he made his way to the cross. This is possible, but there is also the connection that the presence of Moses and Elijah affirmed that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets.
It’s clear that Peter didn’t understand completely what was going on. He volunteered to built tents or shelters. Perhaps he thought that they were going to be there for a while, so he proposed building shelters for Jesus and his honored guests.
Some have connected it with the Old Testament Feast of Tabernacles. This was a harvest feast, but it was to commemorate that God had led them out of Egypt and that they had lived in tents in the wilderness for over 40 years.
Whatever the case, Peter missed the point. Even before he’s finished speaking, I wonder if he noticed a cloud starting to gather over him. Then, from that cloud came the voice of the Father.
Matthew 17:5 NIV
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!”
Matthew 17
And the disciples hit the ground in fear.
This is what we learn so far. The Bible isn’t hard to understand when we are trying to figure out who Jesus is. Over and over again, the Bible points to Jesus as God. The law points to Jesus—everything is directed to holiness and Jesus is the perfect embodiment of holiness. The Bible uses the words of the prophets to point to Christ. The Law, the Prophets, and even the Father endorses Jesus.
Jesus is is the complete fulfillment of the law.
Jesus says earler in:
Matthew 5:17 NIV
“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.
Hebrews 10:8–10 NIV
First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Jesus is also the fulfillment of the prophets.
Elijah was a prophet who called people to repentance.During Elijah’s life, God performed one of he greatest displays of his power to the people when he defeated the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel.
It had such an impact that the prophet Malachi prophesied that Elijah would come one more time to show that God is the one true God.
Malachi 4:5 NIV
“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.
Malachi 4:5
So, let’s review the scene—Jesus, transfigured into his heavenly glory. Jesus was not transformed—he did not change who he was, but he was transfigured—his true self was revealed. And then, as quickly as it all began, it was only Jesus. In the end, it is always only Jesus.
Matthew 17:5 NIV
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!”

Jesus is always present in our lives. (v. 6-8)

and saw a day when God would Jesus is always present in our lives. (v. 6-8)
The disciples were on the ground, afraid before the glory of God, trying to figure out all that was going on, and they were afraid. We read:
Matthew 17:7 NIV
But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.”
Matthew 17:
I never noticed this before—Jesus touched them. The eternal Son of God touched them. He assured them that it was o.k. “Get up and don’t be afraid.”
We live in a world that is accustomed to special effects in the movies. I imagine, given the time, some filmmaker could make a pretty dramatic reenactment of what happened on the mountain. Yet, in our western world, we are not shocked and amazed much by what we see. We have been conditioned to be skeptical of miracles, to mock superstition, to believe that the spirit world, angels and demons are something only for books or movies.
In our society, we’ve allowed the unexplainable to become something we question and doubt. I think the devil knows this and uses it to his advantage. I think we don’t see visible expressions of the devil and his work because if he would show himself, it would convince us that he is really dangerous. So, he works on our doubts and spiritual smugness.
Go to other countries where they are more attuned and less skeptical—the devil scares them by trying to convince people of his power. I have heard of missionaries from the U.S. go into different places and see things that they can’t explain and that they’ve never seen in the West. There is spiritual warfare.
Knowing this, we should be aware that in the end—it will not be angels or demons that decide our future. Satan doesn’t get the final world. In the end it has always been and will always be Jesus who remains.
I don’t know where it is in each of your lives where Jesus needs to be most present, but I pray that you will have your eyes open to see him at work. May he surprise you with what He can do. We can be blind to where God is working, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t working. Once we are in tune with where God is at work be prepared to be amazed.
Explain the need to put explanations for what can’t be explained. unveiled faces, reflecting Jesus glory

Follow and serve, even though we can’t explain it all.

The disciples went down the mountain, trying to figure it all out. Jesus asked them to keep what they had seen quiet for a little while, because He had more work to do. But, there would be a day when Jesus would come again.
For the disciples, they wondered if this appearance by Elijah was the beginning of the end. Jesus went on to say that Elijah had already come—the one who had announced the coming of the Son of God—John the Baptist.
Now it was time to continue following and serving.
We should follow and serve, even though we can’t explain it all. I wonder when it will be when we can fully understand and see the glory of God.
It made me think of Paul’’s words in 2 Corinthians. Paul writes about the day when we are changed and transformed—not transfigured. Jesus was transfigured—his true person was revealed. We will be transformed—changed so that we can see and witness God in his true glory. Paul writes, when we Jesus, the perfect fulfillment of the Law then this:
2 Corinthians 3:16–18 NIV
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:16-
Each one of us needs to be transformed. I want each one of us to be open to God changing us. In every area of our life, I want us to look at every area of life as those who have seen the glory of the Son. Knowing that Jesus is present with us at all times, follow and serve. Living not as the world sees things, but as those who have been transformed by God see things. See Jesus in your life and in this world today.
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