Jesus alone

This Sunday is known in the lectionary as Transfiguration Sunday.

The Transfiguration of Jesus, is the story as heard and read straight from the bible, and is our only reading for today, which was spoken to us by my beautiful wife.

Pretty cool how she is not here in person, but yet, still here none the less.

Did you know that The Transfiguration is recognised as one of the five major milestones of the life of Jesus in the Gospels.

The others being, his Baptism, his Crucifixion, his Resurrection and his Ascension.

With the Transfiguration included, we start to understand these things have a unique quality about them… the word His. His resurrection, His Ascension, His Baptism… His Transfiguration. They are all miracles that happen to Jesus alone and are necessary elements of his ministry. His alone.

The transfiguration is recorded in 3 of the Gospels, Mark, Luke and Mathew and it is believed John also refers to it in his fist chapter, v14, We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only son, who came from the father, full of grace and truth.

Now Several days before the transfiguration Jesus predicts his death for the first time Matthew 16v23 and goes on to rebuke Peter, for not having in mind the concerns of God but human concerns when he tells Jesus, they will not let them take him. I mention this only as it comes relevant again later, with peter wanting to build huts for Jesus, Moses and Elijah on the mountain. Again thinking of humans concerns and not the concerns of God. The bigger picture. A Distorted view if you like.

It’s interesting when I first read this bit of scripture, in preparing for my last talk, “God Calling” I was focused on the spoken words of God. Yeah sure, Jesus shines brightly, Elijah and Moses were there too. But at that time, the focus for me was on understanding what God wanted us to do, being to listen to him… Jesus.

Now in preparation for this, I needed to again listen and this time I heard so much more than just the moment of God speaking aloud. I found myself wondering about the whole story and what it means. What’s it trying to tell me, what message does it want me to tell you.

I wanted to understand why this was such a milestone in his life. Its easy to see how the others are. This moment was surely more than just a glimpse of the heavenly body, that is awaiting us.

Side tracked briefly trying to understand how we understand. I turned to google for a definition of understanding. You’d be surprised by the different side streets I take in preparing a talk. I spent a few whole days thinking about mountain tops, where this event occurred. What’s so special and attractive about mountain views. What does it make you feel. Ponder that thought later today to see what your own answer is.

Anyway in my travels I found this simple gem. Understanding is a relation between the knower and an object of understanding

This yelled at me.. Can you see the link for us. In understanding God.

 It is about having a relationship between Jesus and our Selves. Remember Proverbs 3 from last week, Trust in the lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.

For 8 verses of scripture, if we allow it too, The Scripture for today can teach us so much. But it can only teach us, if we allow it too and engage in a relationship with Jesus. And Being aware of Distorted views like the cup and straw picture used last week. As seeing is not necessarily believing. The Disciples saw everything Jesus did yet struggled with doubt and faith. And that is okay, were human.

Today as we concentrate on the scripture of Mathew 17, v1-8 we are taken on a journey. We are effectively part of the group. Walking up the mountain. We see Jesus transfigured, his face shining like the sun, and his clothes turning as white as light. Jesus glorified.

As we are getting our heads around this, bang. In comes Moses and Elijah appearing and talking to Jesus. Peter then begins to speak, not knowing what to say he instinctively speaks of human concerns, and God interrupts, by way of a bright cloud and his voice. This is my son who I love, with him I am well pleased, listen to him.

The authority of God is witnessed by everyone on that mountain including us. Peter, John and James hit the ground terrified. Elijah and Moses have stopped talking.

We continue to read on, what’s going to happen next. Moses has disappeared, and so has Elijah, there was no angels or other heavenly beings present. No further voice of God. Only Jesus. Imagine the silence after all that had just occurred.

Jesus is centre stage. And Jesus acts, he walks over to Peter, John and James, reaches out, touches them and speaks. “Get up”, “Don’t be afraid.” Jesus comforts Peter, John and James, this is not done with human concern. And what do they do. they look up and see no one except Jesus.  Jesus Alone. This is so important.

You See Jesus is the answer. He is our focus. He is our saviour. He is the only way.

And what was Jesus first instinct/godly concern. It was too walk over, reach out to his three disciples, and touch them. He could have said some great speech about what had just occurred. And How important he is. But he chose to reach out and relate to his disciples, including us.

This event is not just about seeing the glorified heavenly body of Jesus and the potential insight to our heavenly body to come. It is deeper than that. It is a clear indication that Jesus and his teachings need to be our focus.

I want to also point out that Jesus shone brightly from the inside out. He was not shinned on. It was not reflected light.  It radiated from him.  Allowing his central holy Glory to be seen.

On the mountain when the disciples were witnessing the glorified body of Jesus. Two figures appeared and spoke with Jesus. These being Moses and Elijah. This is no coincidence.

We have here, Moses, known as the Law deliverer and believed writer of the Torah. Moses Represents the law and the old commandments. He reminds us that we have rules to follow and obey and are measured before God and that we will never be good enough alone to enter heaven. In turn Moses also reminds us of judgement.

Elijah on the other side, the great Jewish prophet and miracle worker, who brings fire and brimstones to those that oppose the one true God. A well-known passage of the bible sums up his strong view, 1 Kings 18:21 How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord Is God, follow him, but if Baal is God, Follow him.  He was very passionate about this and rightly so. As God is the one true God.

Elijah represents the prophets and the prophecies.

We see these 3 figures in conversation. The law maker, the prophet and the son of God. In Luke’s Gospel it is hinted they are talking about Jesus departure in Jerusalem. Peter, not knowing what to do instinctively, asks to build them a shelter each. I would suspect, it was to give them a physical place to stay. To provide an opportunity for all 3 to remain together on earth for the people.

At this point the voice of God interjects. And everyone stops what they are doing. Inc Elijah and Moses. Again the authority of God is like a loud clap of thunder. Remember the thunder last week. Appreciate how frightening it would have been for Peter, James and John.

Once he stops speaking, Elijah and Moses have gone. Jesus is the only person who remains. It is not Moses and the law that remains. Or Elijah and prophecies. It is Jesus. Jesus in this moment shows us that he is the fulfilment of the law and the prophecies. He has got the law covered and the prophecies. He shows, and he tells us in John 14v6 that he is the way, the truth and the life.

Charles Spurgeon writes in one of his many 3 hour long sermons, “Oh that your eyes may be open, not to see Elijah , not to see Moses, But to see “Jesus Only.”

Because Jesus is the answer. Therefore, Jesus Alone should be our focus. Jesus is more important than Moses, He is more important than the Prophet Elijah. He is God. And he lives in us.

As Christians, I wonder if we have a distorted view about this.

Last week, I had a telephone conversation with a grieving wife. He husband had committed suicide. I was calling to discuss some things. During the conversation she broke down and cried, I told her, I’m not sure if your religious or not, however, I will pray for you during this sad time. She said she was and that she would really appreciate it… We continued talking and the funeral came up and was actually held this Thursday gone. I told her that on the day of the funeral take the attendance of all the people from all different walks of life and lives who Her husband had touch and See it as love and comfort from God. Phone went silent and I could hear crying. I apologised for causing her more tears, The next words floored me. No, don’t apologise, thank you so much for that Ash, I have Christian friends and the majority have been very unsupportive and negative toward me due to the circumstances of Johns death (not his real name)… I reiterated, our God is a loving god, and a good God. He knows our hearts and we have no place to judge, but to love.

I was so frustrated, How are those Christian friends of hers acting like Jesus. Where is the love, and Gods Grace. Seems to me they are following Moses rather than Jesus. A total misunderstanding of the love and grace of God. A distorted view.

Returning back to verse 8, It shows the nature of Jesus. A nature of caring, love and patience. The action of Jesus at the end of this scripture, is beautiful. Knowing who he is, he walks over and touches his disciples, telling them to Get up and not to be afraid. The Choice of words here is awesome.  He is our shepherd and we are his sheep. He is our saviour. here to serve us and we are to trust him, follow him and go for him.

To further remind us of Jesus fulling the law and prophecies we turn to Paul. He knew his Bible. Hebrews 1:3 In the past god spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways. But in these last days he has spoken to us by his son, whom he appointed heir of all things and through whom also made the universe. The Son is the radiance of Gods Glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

How much clearer does it need to be, yet we don’t see.

I was on the Lakes Way, at 9am on Thursday morning directing traffic around a fallen tree.

I was standing in police uniform with my yellow vest on. Shining brightly. I was on a blind corner and was urging drivers to slow down with my hands, as they came around the bend and before they could see the tree and council workers.

I was doing this for everyone’s safety and being quite mind-numbing work, I again started to think and muse about the transfiguration, having a conversation with God asking for help as it can be quite full on preparing these talks. But my thought process kept getting interrupted by the odd, whether it be ignorant, arrogant or just plain blasé drivers, speeding past me and my caution only to hit the brakes when they came across the tree in front of them. The word service kept coming into my mind and how I was serving the community now, but no one seemed to care. Well not everyone, some did obey and slow down. It wasn’t until about the tenth car that ignored the service I was providing, and I laughed out loud and said thanks God. Jesus used my current life activity to reinforce that Jesus is here to serve us, to save us, wanting a relationship with us a connection, so he can care for us and guide us to his kingdom and internal life.

Like I was trying to warn drivers by initiating a connection of danger ahead, some chose to see me and listen and slow down, others chose to see me and ignore me and others I believe didn’t even look at me, only to hit the brakes when they came face to face with the danger.

We are human and by no means perfect. However, we all have the ability to do more that just listen, more than just see. We can each encourage our relationship with Jesus and our understanding. Jesus wants us to come to him. He wants to guide you, love you, he wants to serve you at the table in the kingdom of heaven. let him.

The first instinct Jesus had to his disciples on the mountain was to serve them. He alone, not Moses or Elijah. He is not here to condemn, or to rain fire and brimstones judging everyone. He is here to love us. To Save us from our own distorted world beliefs and understandings if we allow him too.

The Transfiguration

Shows us the Glory of his person, the glory of his kingdom, the glory of his cross and the glory of his service, to die for us as, because he loves us.

One more point about the mountain used in the transfiguration I would like to bring up and credit goes to Charles Spurgeon.  Being on a mountain naturally takes us away from the hustle and bustle of the word around us and its distractions.

To grow your relationship with Jesus, allow Jesus to be your focus. Find a quiet place, away from the Outside world distractions and meditate on his word. Hearing his calling. Letting him serve you by asking him for help and guidance no matter where you are. I have no doubt he will reach out his hand and say don’t be afraid.

Like Paul States in Romans 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

So as we prepare for Lent and the Easter Season. Think about your relationship with Jesus and work on your faith. Make Jesus your focus.

Jesus is lord, Jesus is our saviour. Trust him. If your struggling with that, talk to him. Work on your relationship with him. That is something we all should always be doing. Just like friendships and marriage. If there is no communication, they break down. Jesus the living God is inside of us by way of the Holy spirit, He is already actively in us, if there is a communication breakdown, it is on our part. And our part to correct.

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God who said, “let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in OUR hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of Gods Glory displayed in the face of God. 

Let God Serve you, and in turn let God shine from your hearts in service to him. Paise God in Joy and Love for the grace he freely gives in his sacrifice on the cross. Remember, he lived a human life, to truly understand us, he knows how easy it is to sin and be tempted.

He is not here to judge us in our human life, he is not here to condemn us to death. He is here to save us, show us mercy and offer his grace and love through a relationship with him and trust in him.

As we prepare to enter another week, let Jesus be your focus!

Benediction.

As we go to enjoy a chat and share a laugh, let us remember, Hebrews 4:14

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended to Heaven, Jesus the Son of God. Let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.

Dear Lord.

Thank you for your word and the ability we have to hear it.

I ask you help us all, reflect on our relationship with you and to explore ways to nurture it and help it grow stronger and in turn our faith. Increase our thirst to learn more about you, focusing on you, Jesus alone. Guiding us in our understanding of you and your word.

Give us the confidence to come to you lord and seek you out no matter our personal circumstances. Keep us humble lord and to be weary of distorted ungodly concerns which can change our focus. Help us lord to be conveyors of your love and Grace to others around us in our community and lives. Allow us to say with confidence to please use us to do your will whatever that may be and to keep our internal light shining strong.

Amen