A Foretaste Of Glory
January 27, 2019 | Randy Smith
A Foretaste Of Glory
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Pastor Randy Smith
Is it just me or is Dave Ramsey chasing you around in your dreams at night? We are learning a lot, but one thing my wife and I have repeatedly said is that so much of this is common sense. Don’t spend more than what you have. Make your giving to the Lord your first budgeted line item. Stay out of debt and work to pay off debt you have. And realize all of your money ultimately belongs to God. What’s his mantra? “If you will live like no one else now, later you can live and give like no one else!” In other words, don’t foolishly live for the tin now when you can have the gold later.
This principle did not originate with Dave. It originated with Jesus. He taught us to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven, right? He also taught us the principle of cross and then crown, shame now and glory later.
You see, we are all hardwired for glory. That’s fine. The problem is we try to achieve self-glory in this world. And that goes against everything we learned in the sermon last week. Aren’t we to, verse 23, “Deny [ourselves], and take up his cross daily and follow [Him]?” Aren’t we to, verse 24, lose our life for His sake in order to truly gain it? Didn’t He show us the principle in Himself that true glory must wait for the life to come and if we want that glory we must not be ashamed to identify with Him now?
You see, when we aim for the glory in this world we lose the glory in the next. We settle for the tin and miss out on the gold that awaits true followers of Christ.
Yet what does that glory look like? Today we will get a foretaste. We know that throughout the Bible God has given us glimpses of His glory – from Mount Saini to the Tabernacle and to the visions given to Isaiah and Ezekiel and John. We know that Jesus was the exact representation of the glory of the Father (Jn. 1:14; Heb. 1:3), but there was no doubt that that glory was veiled. Yet in one brief moment while on earth He revealed His true glory. Today we will look at the story commonly known as the Transfiguration. So far in Luke we’ve been learning a lot about what Jesus did. Now we’ll get a great look into who Jesus is.
A Common Setting (verse 28)
The first of four sub-points, “A Common Setting.”
Verse 28, “Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.”
There are three things to define in the setting so we can rightly establish the context.
First, “some eight days after these sayings.” What sayings? You have to remember what was covered in the previous verses. Verse 20 – Peter confessed Jesus to be the Christ. Verse 22 – Jesus predicts His upcoming sufferings and death in Jerusalem. Verse 23 – Jesus gives the demands if you wish to be His disciple resulting in radical self-denial and loyal obedience. There is a lot going on there. But who wants to follow a Messiah that’s going to be rejected by the Jewish religious leaders and die by the Romans as a criminal? Who wants to be a disciple of One that calls you to “lose your life” and suffer with Him? You are asking for a lot of faith! Just a little assurance would be nice.
Second, Jesus took with Him not all His twelve disciples, but only Peter, James and John. This was the so-called “inner three,” our Lord’s closest disciples. This was for their sake. They will be witnesses of this event, and according to the Law, two or three witnesses were necessary (cf. Dt. 17:6; 19:15).
And third we read that they went up a mountain for the specific purpose of praying. That was something our Lord was committed to.
These three things were common events in the life of Jesus.
An Uncommon Surprise (verses 29–31)
Yet as we move to the second point something very uncommon catches the three disciples by surprise.
Verse 29, “And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming.”
“White and gleaming.” So I can put on bleached-white clothes and shine a spotlight on myself. It was more intense. So I can recall Moses when he came down from the mountain and His face shone having been in God’s presence (Ex. 34:29). It was more intense. All the brightness I mentioned was from a secondary source shining upon us. This was the glory of God Himself, first person, shining not on, but out from within.
Matthew 17:2, “And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.” Mark 9:2-3, “And He was transfigured before them; and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them.” That verb “transfigured” in the original Greek is “metamorphoo.” Jesus underwent a personal metamorphosis to show the “different” appearance of His true heavenly glory.
We also learn in verse 30 that two other men that appeared were identified as Moses and Elijah (probably to represent the Law and the Prophets) also appearing in glory, They were talking with Jesus. The topic of the conversation is significant. They, verse 31, “were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”
That’s all that we know of this conversation. The “departure (literally in the Greek – “exodus”) … at Jerusalem.” Something “which [Jesus] was about to accomplish.” What is that so significant of that for this time? Why is that the topic of discussion and the most important event in the life of Christ? And what is this Jerusalem event all about?
Let’s back it up and ask the question, why did Jesus come to earth? Why did God take on flesh to dwell among us? The answer is derived from His name. Jesus means “Savior.” “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21). And as we know that would be accomplished through His work on the cross that will take place in the city of Jerusalem. The city that Jesus said, “Who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her” (Mt. 23:37). Verse 22 of Luke 9, Jesus said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” (Lk. 9:22). Verse 51 of Luke 9, “He was determined to go to Jerusalem.”
This was His core mission – to be the sacrificial Lamb of God that would bear our sins, face the justice that we deserved for our sins and then provide salvation in His name for anyone who trusts in Him by faith.
Jerusalem meant the cross and the connection with His present glorious transfiguration is significant. The shame of the cross will be swallowed up in glory. Here in verse 29 the three got a peek at His glory presently concealed, yet in verse 26 at His Second Coming all will see His glory eternally revealed. The cross was our Lord’s glory – manifesting a depth of love and devotion that we can never understand. The eternal nail-prints in His hands and the heavenly chorus singing, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev. 5:12).
A Common Suggestion (verses 32–33)
But as we move to the third point, allow us as humans to bring all things from the divine to the mundane. From the eternal to the temporary. From the God-centeredness to the man-centeredness. From an uncommon surprise to a common suggestion. And leave it to Peter to once again speak for all of us.
Verse 32, “Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him.” Verse 33, “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.”
Now there have been many suggestions as to what Peter meant by this saying. They range from a humble suggestion to an outright ridiculous suggestion. Yet what can we know for certain?
For starters, Peter making any “suggestion” to Jesus is absurd. The Creator does not take or need suggestions from the created. There is nothing we can do to improve upon God’s plan. There is nothing we can add that He doesn’t know. We can’t impose our desires on Him and expect or demand that He comply. And quite frankly, most of our suggestions are awful since we are finite in our understanding and often selfish in our thinking. It wasn’t far removed from this event that Peter suggested (actually rebuked) Jesus… from even going to Jerusalem (Mt. 16:23). You’ll remember that Jesus called him “Satan.”
Second, it’s hard to take this as a noble comment when Luke’s commentary in verse 33 says, “[He was] not realizing what he was saying.” It’s not a compliment to tell someone, “You have no idea what you are talking about!” Mark says, “For [Peter] did not know what to answer; for they became terrified” (Mk. 9:6).
Third, the mere suggestion that he build three shelters puts Jesus on an equal footing with Moses and Elijah. This is not a new Trinity. Not only is Jesus the greatest and final Lawgiver and Prophet, but they were human and He was and is God. Thankfully Peter was at least humble enough not to suggest they build six shelters.
Fourth, the suggestion of building shelters was most likely a desire to prolong the moment. This is what the Disciples and the Jews wanted. This was the glory of the Messiah, the glory that would crush the Romans and usher in God’s Kingdom. As Peter said in the verse, “Master it is good for us to be here.” Let’s not leave! Let’s prolong the glory! Obviously he didn’t hear or understand verse 31 that Jesus, Moses and Elijah were all taking about a departure, an exodus, not on that mountain, but in Jerusalem. No, for God’s glory and our salvation, Jesus must leave the holy mountain and face a cross in Jerusalem. It is shame before glory; a cross comes before the crown.
Fifth, Jesus does not need an external tabernacle. He already is the dwelling of God (Jn. 1:14).
Sixth, if there is any redemptive value to Peter’s comments possibly Peter implied a connection to the “Feast of Tabernacles.” It was a special celebration the Jews held every year to “celebrated God’s continued provision for them in the current harvest and remembered His provision and protection during the 40 years in the wilderness… During the eight days of the feast, the Israelites would dwell in booths or tabernacles that were made from the branches of trees… [The Jews were] to look forward to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, who would deliver His people from the bondage of sin (GotQuestions.org).
Could this have been going through Peter’s mind? The Jewish festivals pointed toward a fulfillment in the Messiah. The Passover must first be fulfilled – the blood spilt for deliverance from sin. Then the Feast of Tabernacles must be fulfilled – the Messianic Kingdom (Zech. 14:16-21). In seeing Christ’s glory, did Peter think the Kingdom had arrived and he wanted to build three tabernacles to honor the fact? Did Peter just get the timing wrong not realizing that the Passover – Messiah’s death – had to come first? Perhaps, but Luke says nothing to develop this scenario.
An Uncommon Statement (verses 34–36)
Last point, “An Uncommon Statement.”
Look at verse 34. “While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.” Probably Jesus, Moses and Elijah were in the cloud. Greater fear overcomes the three disciples. The cloud was a way God manifested His presence. It probably also served as a “divine chariot” to bring Moses and Elijah back to heaven.
Verse 35, key verse, “Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” Significant statement! This is the Father’s divine approval of the Son near the exodus of His ministry. This was nearly the same statement made to the Son near the entrance of His ministry. Remember Christ’s baptism? Luke 3:22, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”
You can’t help but see the comparison with Moses. Both of them are God’s Lawgivers. Both of them are up on a mountain. Yet the comparison then breaks off. Moses came down with the commandments and told the people to listen to God. Here the Son gives the commandments and the Father says to listen to Him. Even Moses prophesized saying, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him” (Deut. 18:15; cf. Ac. 3:22-23). That day had now arrived in Christ.
My friends, this is one of my primary methods when seeking to interpret the Bible rightly. When reading the Bible, how does the verse show, predict, explain, glorify Christ? Remember our Lord’s comments in Luke’s last chapter? “All things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Lk. 24:44-45, cf. Lk. 25:27). Read your Bible and see it through the lens of Jesus Christ.
Then the epilogue in verse 36. “And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen.” Why? Because Jesus told them to remain quiet about this for the time to de-intensify the false Messianic wave. But in time the silence would turn to proclamation. Matthew 17:9, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead” (Mt. 17:9).
However you interpret Peter’s words from verse 33, we know in the end that he got it right. He wrote these words just before his earthly exodus in 2 Peter.
“I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind. 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. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts” (2 Pet. 1:13-19).
This account shows us the glory of Jesus Christ that was always there and visibly present during this unique event. For Jesus it was shame now and then glory later. For us it is the same. Listen to Him! Keep your focus on Him and not yourself!