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PERCEPTIONS OF JESUS NO. 12  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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One of my most favorite books, often considered to be a children’s book, is The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. If you are not familiar with the book, it is an allegory about Jesus Christ. In this story, four children accidentally step through a time portal and enter into an alternative universe named Narnia. In this universe animals are able to talk, and actually live a human-like existence. A beaver and his wife take the children into their home and they determine to bring them to Aslan, a lion who represents Jesus. As they journey to meet Aslan one of the children asks Mr. Beaver if Aslan is safe. The beaver laughed at the idea of a wild lion being safe. He is the king of the forest. He is sovereign in authority, majestic in glory, and extremely powerful. He is definitely not safe. But though he is not safe, yet he is very good!
I think that is a very fitting description of Jesus Christ, who is the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. He is anything but safe. As Paul wrote in
Colossians 1:15–18 NASB95PARA
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
In our passage for this morning, , three of Jesus’ disciples were privileged to catch a glimpse of the majestic glory of Christ. What they witnessed was not the meek and mild man they had come to know, but rather they beheld the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. As we contemplate this text this morning we will look at Christ in all His glory, the Old Testament witness regarding His glory, and the disciple’s misunderstanding of the event that was unfolding before their very eyes.
Let’s read our passage together.

The Setting

The Parallel with Moses’s Sinai Experience

Six days
Three Witnesses
High Mountain
Glorious Appearance
Overshadowing Cloud
Voice from the Cloud

The Inner Circle
Moses had three witnesses to his mountaintop experience:

Moses and Elijah both had mountaintop experiences with God

Christ in all His Glory

Various biblical authors have written about the glory of Christ.
Daniel 7:13–14 NASB95PARA
“I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.
One of my favorites is from the author of
Hebrews 1:1–3 CSB
Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. God has appointed him heir of all things and made the universe through him. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Hebrews 1:1–4 CSB
Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. God has appointed him heir of all things and made the universe through him. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. So he became superior to the angels, just as the name he inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Another was written by John in
Revelation 1:12–16 NASB95PARA
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.
These passages perhaps help us to envision what Peter, James, and John witnessed on this glorious occasion. Look at verse 2 of our text. “And He was transfigured before them.” In other words their eyes saw the unveiling of Christ’s inherit glory. No wonder our text tells us that they were terrified! The word translated transfigured is the Greek term μεταμορφόω from which we get the English term metamorphosis. Metamorphosis is the process through which a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. It is also used to describe the process through which a tadpole becomes a frog. Makes me think of the old children’s song, “Bull frogs and butterflies ...”
The English term transfigured gives the idea of something crossing over.
R.C. Sproul wrote:
“We might say Jesus crossed the line from the natural to the supernatural, from the human to the divine, as the cloak of humanity that veiled His true glory was removed and His glory became visible.”
With Jesus’ glory unveiled He would not have been seen merely as the meek and humble man that He was. He would have been seen as the sovereign ruler of the universe. The One who at the word of His command can pronounce judgement on those for whom judgement is due. Though Jesus in His majestic glory is anything but safe, He is always good!
Let’s turn our attention briefly to the Old Testament witness.

The Old Testament Witness

Notice verse 3. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.
Why Moses and Elijah? If it were Enoch and Elijah we could say that it was those who had not died who came to meet with Jesus. But the Scripture is very clear that Moses died, and God buried him in an unknown location.
Perhaps it had something to do with both Moses and Elijah having had mountaintop experiences with God. But more than likely it is that they represent the Law and the Prophets, which is a biblical phrase that refers to the fulness of the OT witness. Both the Law and the Prophets looked forward to the coming of Messiah.
Do you wonder what it was that they talked about? If so, have no fear, Luke tell us.
Luke 9:30–31 NASB95PARA
And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
They were talking with Him about His upcoming crucifixion. Perhaps they were encouraging Him to stay the course. Perhaps they were focusing on the marvelous plan of redemption that was about to be accomplished by His substitutionary death and subsequent resurrection.
We don’t really know what aspect of His death they were talking with Him about. I suspect that there coming may have been more for the benefit of the disciples than for the benefit of Christ. Let’s turn our attention now to the disciple’s misunderstanding.

The Disciple’s Misunderstanding

Look with me at verse 4. Have you ever been around someone who has to say something, even when they don’t have something to say? I remember when I was taking a graduate class in music theory there was this young lady in the class who always had to inject herself into the discussion, even though she didn’t ever really have anything to say. I think she though she would get a better grade in the class by doing so. I think that is sort of the scenario for Peter in this passage. At a loss for words, he felt he had to say something. But, man, o man, what he said reflected his continued ignorance of who Jesus really was.

Peter’s Ignorant Zeal

Luke tells us:
Luke 9:33 NASB95PARA
And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not realizing what he was saying.
Mark tells us:
Mark 9:6 NASB95PARA
For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified.

A Lesson We Can Learn From Peter:

When you don’t know what to say, it is better to say nothing at all!

Possibly a reference to the Feast of Booths
Peter, perhaps unknowingly, made Moses and Elijah to be equal with Christ
I wonder how often, like Peter, I have brought Christ down to the level of man. It is really easy to do. When we try to explain to others who Christ, or any member of the Godhead is, we must be careful to NOT make them appear as mere mortals. The writer of Hebrews tells us:
Hebrews 12:28–29 NASB95PARA
Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.
We have looked at Christ in all His glory, the Old Testament witness, and the disciples misunderstanding. Let’s turn our attention now to the Father’s Correction.

The Father’s Correction

God the Father inserted Himself into this scene by offering words of exhortation to Peter, and his companions.

The Shekinah Glory

The Announcement

Reminiscent of the Baptism of Jesus
Emphasis on the word “this.” Jesus is the beloved Son, not Moses; not Elijah.

The Exhortation

The exhortation that the Father gave to Peter is a very fitting exhortation for believers today. Listen to Him!
Jesus’ Word is authoritative
Jesus’ Word is life-giving
Jesus’ Word leads us into the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake
One of the most basic differences between believers and unbelievers is that believers have responded to the sound of Jesus’ voice as He calls us to become one of His sheep.
John 10:27–29 NKJV
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
Perhaps you have heard the voice of Christ calling you to repentance and faith in Him. If you have not yet responded to His voice, I invite you to do so today.
Let’s briefly look at the disciple’s reaction.

The Disciple’s Reaction

Notice verses 6—8.
They worshiped Christ
They were terrified as they began to further understand who Jesus is
Perhaps they were terrified because of the Father directly addressing them
Perhaps they were terrified because they recognized their own sinfulness in the light of the true majesty of Christ
Perhaps they came to understand that though Christ is always good, He is anything but safe!
Their terror vanished at the touch of Jesus
They saw Jesus alone
This should have been their focus all along
This should be our focus as well — fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith
This experience had a profound impact on these men
John 1:14 NASB95PARA
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
1 John 1:1–3 NASB95PARA
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:16–18 NASB95PARA
For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
Today we have looked at the majestic glory of Christ. We have considered Him in all of His glory, we have looked at the OT witness of Him, and the disciples misunderstanding. I think what has impressed me the most is how the Father stepped in and pointed out to Peter and the rest that Jesus, and only Jesus is His Beloved Son. These other great men of faith are merely peripheral in comparison to Jesus.
May our hearts be encouraged to listen to the Beloved Son!
Let’s pray.
Closing Song:
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