Matthew 16:28-17:23 | Shaun LePage | August 5, 2007
A. Last Spring (07) Topeka Zoo—young male lion, up close behind glass, pawing at Lydia; gave us chills to be so close to such a magnificent and powerful creature
B. How do you think it would change your life to have a really close experience with God—closer than ever before? In several instances throughout history, God has allowed men to experience His glory—Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, Paul, John on Patmos, etc. They were terrified and forever changed
C. Mt 16:21; Shocking news—old news to us, but very difficult for disciples to comprehend especially since Jesus had just affirmed Peter’s great confession: “You are the Christ…” (16:16)
D. Matthew 17—miraculous glimpse of His glory and power to authenticate what He had told them
II. Body—Matthew 16:28-17:23—(Observations) the focus is still on the identity of Jesus
A. The Glory of Jesus (16:28-17:13)
1. (28) “Not taste death” various interpretations; not a mistake! Mt Mk & Lk all follow with Trans. A glimpse of what was to come; Peter’s interpretation: 2 Pt 1:16-18
2. (1) “Peter, James and John”—inner circle=“some of those who are standing here…”; “High mountain”=something big is going to happen (e.g., Sermon on the Mount, Great Commission, etc.) Mt. Hermon; Caeserea Philippi 1,000 ft up; 8,000 ft. from top
3. (2) “Transfigured” (μετεμορφώθη; changed); pre-incarnate and post-resurrection (real Jesus!); [Famous painting by Raphael of Transfiguration]
4. (3) “Moses and Elijah” (lots of symbolism) mountains (law / fire from heaven); represent “law and prophets” (OT); (reading too much?) dead saints and “raptured” saints (glimpse of future kingdom); Peter, James & John (those living at Second Coming); 2 witnesses—Rev 11?; “Talking to Him”—Lk: “about His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem”
5. (4) “Peter…tabernacles” right idea (worship) but wrong view of Jesus (=to Moses & Elijah)
6. (5) “Cloud…voice” Cloud over tabernacle in wilderness; (repeat of 3:17; baptism); Father rebuked/corrected Peter for putting Jesus on a par with mere men (Moses & Elijah); Not just a prophet (cf. 16:14)—the Son of God (God Himself!); a) Listen to what He says about Himself: 16:17; “Son of Man”; b) Listen to what He says is going to happen: 16:21, 27; 17:9,12, 22,23
7. (6) “face down…terrified”—common response in presence of God
8. (7-8) “touched” not just a ghost
9. (9-13) conversation on way down; “tell no one until after resurrection” Messianic secret; His timetable, last time; “Elijah” seeing him made them ask about the Malachi prophecy; 2 answers: 1) future—“is coming…will restore”; 2) past—“already came…John”; not entirely clear—Lk 1:17; rejected John, so must be a future fulfillment (Rev 11 witnesses?); “So also (like John) Son of Man is going to suffer”—again predicted both resurrection and death
B. The Power of Jesus (17:14-23)
1. (14-16) “Man…son…disciples (other 9) could not cure”—Jesus had given them the power; had His announcement of His death shaken their faith?
2. (17-18) Jesus was very disappointed with disciples (not father—apparently believed); display of His human struggle—holy anger?; instantly cured the boy—display of power; shows that Jesus was willingly going to the cross (God’s will)—If He could stop a demon, He could stop the men who would soon kill Him
3. (19-21) “privately” focus remains on the training of His disciples; “littleness of faith” even though Jesus had given them miraculous power (ch10), it was not magic—faith and prayer was required (v.21 brackets; not in best manuscripts; “prayer” agrees with Mk 9:29, but “and fasting” is a much later addition, probably not original); “move mountains…nothing impossible”—nothing stands in the way of the disciple who is dependent upon God within the will of God (not witchcraft-like power or “faith as a substance” (word-faith cult) but faith in God. MacArthur: “Mountain-moving faith is not faith in oneself, much less faith in faith, but faith in God.” (Matthew 16-23; p.81)—all about the object of one’s faith.
4. (22-23) Once again—third time: death and resurrection; no one disputed, but “deeply grieved” about his death. Why did no one ask about the resurrection?
III. Conclusion: 3 things stand out to me: (Disciple Lessons) Focus on disciples—what should we learn?
A. Imitate Jesus: Though He was God, He humbled Himself for the sake of others
1. Ph 2:6-8; “emptied Himself” (ekenwsen; the kenosis); Sproul: “I think the context of Philippians 2 makes it very clear that what he emptied himself of was not his deity, not his divine attributes, but his prerogatives—his glory and his privileges. He willingly cloaked his glory under the veil of this human nature that he took upon himself. It’s not that the divine nature stops being divine in order to become human. In the Transfiguration, for example (Matthew 17:1-13), we see the invisible divine nature break through and become visible, and Jesus is transfigured before the eyes of his disciples. But for the most part, Jesus concealed that glory.” (R.C. Sproul, How Could Jesus Be Both Divine and Human? http://www.mbrem.com)
2. What attitude (v5)? Ph 2:2-5— Be humble like Jesus—obedient to the point of death
3. Sproul: “I think Paul is saying in Philippians 2 that we’re to imitate a willingness to relinquish our own glory and our own privileges and prerogatives.”
4. Paul didn’t encourage us to die physically (necessarily), but die to ourselves. Imitate Jesus (16:24) See also 2 Cor 3:18; Rom 12:2—μετεμορφώθη!! Be transformed—be like Jesus!
B. Listen to Jesus: Though He died on the cross, He rose again and will come in glory
1. 3X told them of the resurrection (16:21; 17:9, 23) and of His 2nd Coming (16:27—the point of the Transfiguration was to give them a glimpse) but they grieved over His death (16:22; 17:23)
2. Peter later (2 Pet 1:16f) spoke of this incident to encourage us to Be faithful because Jesus will come again in power—the Transfiguration is proof; Jesus rebuked disciples for the “littleness of their faith”; faith pleases God (Heb 11:6)—trust Him and be faithful in light of His return
C. (Closely related) Worship Jesus: Though He came as a humble man, He is the awesome God
1. Glimpse of the true nature of Jesus: v.2
2. Look at the response of Peter, James & John—Peter: (great excitement?) “It is good for us to be here” (4); “fell face down to the ground and were terrified” (6); cf. Rev 1:9-18; Ch 5
3. Do you think of Jesus as safe? I’ve recently been reading The Chronicles of Narnia to my two oldest daughters; the story of when the children first learn of the Christ-character, Aslan, is a good illustration (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, pgs.74-76); Jesus, the Lion of Judah, is not safe—but He is good.
4. We often picture Jesus only in His humbled state, but we should also see Him as He is: The glorified Son of God! Be filled with awe because Jesus is awesome. Disciples had privilege of seeing with eyes, but His glory and greatness and power is no less real for us. When was the last time you “fell facedown”—not necessarily literally, but a heart response to Who Jesus is!
5. [Bring up worship team] Don’t want to manipulate emotions; we don’t normally do this sort of thing, but if you’d like to express a “face down” heart to Jesus by kneeling or bowing or lying on the floor (if sincere and not for show for people), feel freedom as we sing our last song.