A Glimpse of GLORY

TEXT:  MATTHEW 9:2-13

maxresdefault

A school music teacher asked her class the difference between LISTENING and HEARING.  At first there was no response.  Finally a hand was raised and a youngster offered this wise definition:  “Listening is wanting to hear.”

As Christians, we should believe that the Holy Spirit is always speaking to us; (And He does not need to shout!).

The KEY here is that we must want to hear Him (Are we sensitive to the Spirit’s Voice).  Remember , He doesn’t waste His voice–He speaks to those who are willing to obey and listen!

slide_9

In this Scripture passage, God speaks; but it appears there’s only one out of the four people who is actually listening!

vs 2:  “Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves…”

Previously, there had been a watershed moment (8:29).  Simon Peter replied to Jesus’ question to the disciples “Who do you yourselves say that I am?”

[29] “You are the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).”

From that time on, Jesus then explained to His disciples that He must die!  This is the FIRST TIME He had declared this news to His followers.  From now on, His direction is set for Jerusalem and the Cross.

THERE IS A PURPOSE FOR EVERYTHING!

Luke 9:22-23 (Amplified Bible):

[22] The Son of Man must suffer many things and be [deliberately] disapproved and repudiated and rejected on the part of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be put to death and on the third day be raised [again].

[23] And He said to all, “If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me” [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also].

For both Jesus and the disciples, these six days prior was a time for reflection and this secluded mountain gave them time for contemplation.

For the disciples, each day that past week, the disciples must have pondered and discussed Jesus’ words about His death and resurrection.  No doubt they tried to figure out how this related; to the Old Testament promises of the kingdom of God.

Also, if Jesus was going to build a Church (i.e. Matthew’s gospel); what would happen to the promised kingdom?

For Jesus, it too was a time for reflection.

Luke in his version of this same event tells us (chapter 9 verse 29); Jesus went up the mountain to pray.  He had to be thinking through the situation that was ahead of Him in Jerusalem.

Miracle On The Mountain.

Scripture doesn’t name the place where this miracle took place; so we don’t know (but of course doesn’t stop people from guessing).

If you read the bible commentaries, they tell you that you have a choice of THREE; although no-one knows for sure!

map-transfiguration-location

Tradition says Mount Tabor, but Mount Tabor is quite small (1900 ft. high).  Not quite the “high” mountain described in Mark 9:2.  Also Mount Tabor was also topped with a fortified city which would hardly give the peaceful setting Jesus was looking for!

Mount Hermon (my personal choice), because both Matthew and Mark tell us it was a “high mountain.”

Mount Hermon is 9400 ft. high.  More importantly, it’s only 14 miles away from Caesarea Philippi where Jesus and His disciples were staying six days earlier.

Mount Jebel Jermak (or Jermuk) which is in upper Galilee is another choice (not on above map).  The highest elevation in that entire region (rising 4,000 feet above the Mediterranean Sea).  Again, from this mountain, it was a relatively short distance to Capernaum where Jesus and the disciples had been staying.

So there you have it.  THREE MOUNTAINS to choose from.  But no one knows with any certainty.

THE DISCIPLES:

PETER, JAMES and JOHN regularly emerged as an inner group among the twelve. Once more, if we are honest, we don’t know why these were chosen!  We can only guess, and that’s what I’m going to do through my Scripture investigation.

  • PETER – In view of Peter’s great confession in chapter 8 verse 29, it is probably no surprise he was chosen to go.
  • JOHN – John had a special relationship with Jesus; a real close bond.  He is referred to as “The disciple whom Jesus loved”.  Of course Jesus loved ALL the disciples; but John seemed to enjoy an affinity with Jesus.
  • JAMES (John’s brother) – James was the first of the 12 disciples to be martyred for Christ.  Maybe, this warranted this special ‘mountain top’ privilege.

Dr. G. Campbell Morgan (Jesus.org) points out that on THREE occasions, Jesus took these same disciples aside to go with Him.  All three occasions dealt with DEATH.

  • They would be with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane when He surrendered to DEATH.
  • And here, at the Transfiguration where Jesus taught them that He would be GLORIFIED in DEATH.

The Voice of Prophecy —verses 2-4 in the (Message bible):

In a Light-Radiant Cloud

[2-4]  Six days later, …Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up a high mountain.  His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes.  His clothes shimmered, glistening white, whiter than any bleach could make them.  Elijah, along with Moses, came into view, in deep conversation with Jesus.

transfiguration

The PHYSICAL ILLUMINATION clearly wasn’t easy for these men to put their experience into words, and the gospel writers describe what happened to Jesus in slightly different ways.  Remember, the brightest artificial light they knew was a feeble candle or an oil lamp.

  • They knew nothing of powerful spotlights.
  • The sight before them must have been breath-taking.
  • It was both frightening and impressive and they were stunned by it.

The SPIRITUAL ILLUMINATION –

What the disciples saw was SPIRITUAL as well as PHYSICAL.

The VEIL of Jesus’ humanity was briefly drawn back.  

These 3 men saw Jesus in a way they had not done ever before.  This was a one-off unique occurrence and the only time while Jesus was on earth that He revealed His GLORY in this way.

I remember when I was a young boy in school, when the teacher held up a jar with a “cocoon”, as she called it, attached to a stick, walking up and down each row, making sure that we could all see the phenomena up close.

She mentioned that a caterpillar made the cocoon, then would change into a beautiful butterfly.  She called it, “metamorphosis”.

 

“METAMORPHOSIS” is the Greek word translated into English as “transfigured.” A metamorphosis is a change on the outside that comes from the inside.

Pupa of crow butterfly (Euploea sp)
Pupa of crow butterfly (Euploea sp)

For a few moments, Jesus’ physical body was TRANSFORMED into the likeness of what His resurrection body was to become in the glorified state [Young’s Bible Dictionary, pg. 802].  Jesus was “metamorphosed,” or ‘transfigured’; the change was on the outside that came from the inside.  THE GLORY of Jesus wasn’t reflected; but radiated from within!

CONSOLIDATION TAKES PLACE!

Question:  Why did this experience on the mountain take place?

Answer:  To consolidate, to reinforce, to strengthen the disciples.

They had to learn the important TRUTH…that SUFFERING and GLORY must go together.

Apart from Jesus’ suffering and death on the CROSS, there could be no GLORY–there could be no future kingdom!  All through this story, from start to finish is ‘GLORY’:

  • e.g. Matthew in his gospel records (Matthew 17:1-9):  Jesus’ “face shone like the sun.”
  • e.g. Mark tells us in verse 3:  His clothes became “dazzling white.”
  • e.g. In verse 5, we read about a “cloud”; Matthew in his gospel calls it “A bright cloud.”

nimbus5

And consolidation for Jesus…?

“And Elijah appeared to them, accompanied by Moses, and they were holding a conversation with Jesus”  (Mark 9:4).

Have you wondered about what they were saying in conversation?  Well I did and I found the answer to that question in Luke 9 verse 31:

[31] “…and they were speaking of His exit [from life]…”

They spoke about His exit from life which He was about to bring to realization in Jerusalem.  They appeared to encourage Him to go on with His mission. Remember, in them (Moses & Elijah), ALL ISRAEL’S HISTORY recognized Jesus as its own fulfillment!  They recognized and knew Jesus as the One they had dreamed and spoke about!

And in all stories, there’s COMPLETION (verse 3).

THESE THREE MEN; Moses, Elijah and Jesus represent God’s dealings with mankind; Moses and Elijah represented the Old Testament:

  • MOSES, THE LAW.
  • ELIJAH, THE PROPHETS.

The LAW and the PROPHETS was a description given to the whole of the Jewish Bible, the part we call the Old Testament.

Both men are the last Old Testament men mentioned in our English Old Testament:  Malachi 4:4-6, they both get a name check.

A Mistake is made (verse 5):

[5] Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good and suitable and beautiful for us to be here…”

Peter’s words here, are one of the great understatement of the Bible:  “It’s good to be here.”  This was an experience that both himself and John would never forget.

John would one day write (John 1:14b), “We [actually] saw His glory, such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace and truth.”

Peter would one day write (2 Peter 1:17-18):  [17] “For when He was invested with honor and glory from God the Father and a voice was borne to Him by the [splendid] Majestic Glory [in the bright cloud that overshadowed Him, saying], This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased and delight.  [18] We actually heard this voice borne out of heaven, for we were together with Him on the holy mountain.”

In VERSE 5, Peter seemed to be enjoying the experience so much that he wanted to prolong it.

  • Let’s build some shelters and we can stay here all night!

His intentions might have been good ones, but they were also wrong.

Notice that Peter wasn’t selfish in his words.  He suggests they build 3 shelters, one for each special guest.  Not 4 (including one for himself), or even 6 ( a shelter for everybody!).  It was a foolish statement!  As if Jesus and the two visitors had no other means of protecting themselves against the cold.

Notice next, God does what Peter could not do; God Himself provided a SUPERNATURAL COVERING for them (VERSE 7):

mark9_7

GOD’S VOICE spoke different things to those present on the mountaintop:

For Jesus, it was encouraging to have Moses and Elijah sharing with Him; telling Him that what He was doing was right.

But now, He had the VOICE of God, His Heavenly Father, publicly declaring what He was planning, by going to Jerusalem, was the right way.

The lesson for the disciples–JESUS is not just a successor but was superior to Moses and Elijah.  He is the FULFILLMENT of both the Law and the Prophets.

“JESUS ONLY” is God’s pattern!

So the SUPERNATURAL guests disappear!

Our Journey with the Disciples Down the Mountain.

Ah, yes, it happens!  Over the years of my Christian life, I’ve enjoyed many ‘mountaintop’ experiences.  But I would eventually find myself once again living in the ‘valleys.’

We are to use the truths and inspiration gained on the MOUNTAINTOPS as the disciples did; strengthening us for life down in the valley.

Jesus will be GLORIFIED as we serve Him daily…

So Jesus invites us to be His SERVANTS:  “SERVICE (servanthood) is not a list of things we do, though in it we discover things to do.  It is not a code of things, but a way of living.  To do specific acts of service is not the same thing as living in the DISCIPLINE of service”  [Richard Faster, “Celebration of Discipline”].

You see, it’s all about servanthood in the valley.

The Christian life is not primarily about moments of euphoria or periods of ecstasy, as nice and important as they are, but about being like JESUS in the real world.

GLORY COMES THROUGH SERVANTHOOD–

I love how God manifests His GLORY.  He manifested His GLORY on a mountain, and of course, He manifested His GLORY in a manger as a servant.  It’s the way God’s GLORY is seen today.  And through our SERVING, you and I are TRANSFORMED!

As Paul wrote (2 Corinthians 3:18):

slide_2


CREDITS & REFERENCES

The New Roget’s Thesaurus in Dictionary Form by Norman Lewis.

Bible Translations used:  Amplified Bible, unless otherwise stated (PHOTOS).

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

The Measure of Our Faith and Beyond!

Spiritual-Gifts

THE SPIRITUAL GIFT OF FAITH:

 I was asked a few weeks ago by the pastor of the church I fellowship at, to lead a small group study in an intimate atmosphere of our home.  Churches today have been placing a great emphasis in this area of koinonia [“fellowship”; “SHARING”, “communion”] in the church.  Also, our pastor wanted each small group involved to be a part of focusing on the Great Commission; how it can be personalized and demonstrated in the body of Christ, the Church.

After prayer and God’s Spirit speaking to me from His Word, I thought what better way to focus on ‘making disciples’, but to do so in a Bible study on Spiritual Gifts.  I decided to call the STUDY, “Gifted For A Purpose.”  

I then thought, while in a study on GIFTS, why not do a Blog-post, not on all the GIFTS mentioned in the Bible but one of the GIFTS.  One  that I have been asked to discuss in the past.

1 Corinthians 12:9:

“To another FAITH by the same Spirit;”

DEFINITION:  It is a supernatural faith that is imparted by the Holy Spirit that enables the Christian to believe God for the extraordinary and the miraculous in a specific time or circumstance.

 Notice now the difference in a SAVING FAITH:

“For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor)  that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation)  through [your] FAITH.  And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving].  but it is the gift of God”  (Ephesians 2:8 AMP).

This is also different from the FAITH that GOD GIVES to every man:

“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith”  (Romans 12:3 KJV).

So every man has some FAITH, but not necessarily THE GIFT OF FAITH:

Primary Objectives of The Gift of Faith:

1.  GIVES a calm assurance and trust that God WILL bring it to pass in the most adverse circumstances.

2.  IMPARTS supernatural faith at a given time to believe and to accomplish might works of God’s power.

The Old Testament heroes, who BY FAITH, subdued kingdoms…stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire and more! (Hebrews 11:33-40).

The Dangers of Demonstrating Our Spiritual Gifts:

We are living as Christians in a day of co-existence of good & evil [The gift of discerning of spirits].  This is still true within all the spiritual gifts.

It is the devil’s duty to imitate and copy what God does and to try to hinder the plan of God.  But, just because this gift has been abused, doesn’t mean that God is not still desiring to use the GIFT OF FAITH in a godly way for His glory!

ILLUSTRATIONS–Past and Current:

Peter in Matthew 14:22-33, walked out of the boat onto the water.  I don’t know about you, but that’s an illustration of supernatural FAITH!

The Christian leader and philanthropist, George Mueller, in 19th Century England provided for thousands of orphans completely by prayer and without even asking for donations.

In my detective work this past week, I ran across a story that I thought best illustrated a current Holy Spirit moment in The Gift of Faith:

A preacher told the story of when his wife was dying of cancer.  The doctors had done all they could, sending her home to die.  After this occurred,  he went to prayer and fasting like never before.  Of course he had prayed all during his wife’s treatments, but not in this manner.  In fact he felt led to take the step of FAITH in proclaiming that he would not eat or drink until either God healed his wife or took her home to be with Jesus.  On the 4th day of no intake of any beverage or food, not even water, he was feeling faint and light headed.  But as he prayed at the side of her bed, he noticed a stirring in his soul.  Also, he noticed at the same time his wife began to move and before long, she jumped out of her bed, shouting in the Spirit [The GIFT of speaking in tongues] for quite sometime!  God had completely healed her of cancer!

That my friends, is the Gift of Faith in action!  Let us fervently desire and stir up this gift (1 Corinthians 12:31)! There are so many people around us who need a miracle in their lives.  GOD wants to use someone just like you and I to fulfill HIS divine will for their lives.

spiritualgifts

Do We Actually “Trust In God” or Do We Just Say We Do? – [PART 2]

Do We Really TRUST?

PART TWO–Walking In The Divine Path or The Aimless Way:

In Part One, we saw illustrations given by the prophet Isaiah regarding 4- contrasts of  TRUST IN GOD:

1.  Between inhabiting the holy city  and “lofty” ruins (Isaiah 26:1-6).

2.  Between walking the divine path and the aimless way.

3.  Between working with supernatural ability and human inability.

4.  Between rising to eternal life and to judgement.

In PART TWO, I’ll pick up the conversation where I left off in Walking In the Divine Path or The Aimless Way.

“[7]  The way of the [consistently] righteous (those living in moral and spiritual rectitude in every area and relationship of their lives) is level and straight; You, O [Lord],  Who are upright, direct aright and make level the path of the [uncompromisingly] just and righteous.  [8] Yes, in the path of Your judgements, O Lord, we wait [expectantly] for You; our heartfelt desire is for Your name and for the remembrance of You.  [9] My soul yearns for You [O Lord] in the night, yes, my spirit within me seeks You earnestly; for [only] when Your judgments are in the earth will the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God).  [10] Though favor is shown to the wicked, yet, they do not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness they deal perversely and refuse to see the majesty of the Lord.  [11] Though Your hand is lifted high to strike, Lord, they do not see it.  Let them see Your zeal for Your people and be ashamed; yes, let the fire reserved for Your enemies consume them”  (Isaiah 26:7-11 AMP).

Look at verse 7, where it tells us that the way or path of righteousness is level and straight.  Then Isaiah calls God “You, O [Lord], Who are upright.”

The NIV translation of the same verse is a bit different in wording: “O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth”; this is actually the same word but because Hebrew and English phrasing are different.  The idea here is, God’s path is level because God is level; God’s path is straight because God is straight; God’s path is righteous…you get the picture.  In other words, we walk in God’s path by imitating the character of God.  Now I don’t think Isaiah is telling us God’s path is a stroll in the park, but he is saying that the path is easy to find.

–God Repeatedly Reveals His Character To Us.

First, He reveals His character via His WordSecondly, He reveals Himself through the incarnation of Jesus.  And thirdly, He reveals Himself via other Christians around us.  All God is asking us is to imitate Him!

–Every single command God has given us.

His commands are a reflection of some aspect of who He is.  Imitating God may not be easy, but the requirements are clear!  By contrast, the way of the world is aimless and…clueless.

Character Reflection

–Isaiah Gives Us Three Pictures of People Who Refuse to Follow God:

FIRST PICTURE given in verse 10–The Message Bible.

“If the wicked are shown grace, they don’t seem to get it”

SECOND PICTURE in verse 10 (b)–The Message Bible.

“In the land of right living, they persisted in wrong living, blind to the splendor of God”

THIRD PICTURE in verse 11–The Message Bible.

“You hold your hand up high God, but they don’t see it.”

Even though the proof of Jesus’ death and resurrection is evident, people are still refusing to come to terms with God.  The apostle Paul says the same thing in Romans 1:18-32.  People who you come in contact with daily know the righteous acts of God; they can see the divine path out in front of them but they willfully refuse to walk in it; then encourage others not to walk in it either.  They choose to walk the aimless way.  Which path are you walking?

THE THIRD CONTRAST: WORKING WITH SUPERNATURAL (divine) ABILITY or HUMAN INABILITY–

[READ Verses 12-18]

Everything that we accomplish in our lives has been done by God working in us.

City Bible Church-North Sound isn’t located here in Lynden, Washington because a small group of Christian believers established it.  God established His Church.  God used (names) to build this church, working through them, gifting them with talents and abilities.  And if this church continues to grow in number, it’s because God will continue to do His work in this place.  For that reason only, God’s name is honored!

–Our Power or God’s Power.

Are we as a church, in the 21st century working in our power, or relying, trusting in God’s power?  Are we as a church just ‘doing’ and our efforts are cast into the wind?   By contrast, Isaiah tells us what happens when we work in our own ability:

[17] As a woman with child drawing near the time of her delivery is in pain and writhes and cries out in her pangs, so we have been before You (at Your presence), O Lord.  [18] We have been with child, we have been writhing and in pain; we have, as it were, brought forth [only] wind.  We have not wrought any deliverance in the earth, and the inhabitants of the world have not yet been born”  (Isaiah 26:17-18 AMP).

–Giving Birth!

Isaiah is using the images of a woman giving birth and describing that it takes a lot of effort.  For nine months the child is growing inside the womb and after nine months, the day finally arrives.  Oh, how I remember those joyful days so long ago.  They will always be permanently imprinted on my mind.  The thrill, the joy of being a father, WOW!

Now husbands might think they understand what their wives are going through or went at the time, but not really–right ladies?  I once heard a woman describe what her childbirth experience was like: ‘Taking my upper lip and pull it over my head.” 

Seriously, this image of a woman struggling to give birth in verses 17-18 is the strongest image Isaiah could come up with.  But nothing comes of all that labor.  Imagine after going through labor ladies, this doctor tells you that you didn’t give birth to a baby–it was just gas!

That’s what Isaiah is trying to get across here.  When we work in our own strength we achieve nothing.  Even if we men were to work as hard as a woman giving birth (and that will never happen), our work accomplishes nothing.

3-Questions For The Church:

1.  Are we as a church in God’s supernatural ability or our own inability?

2.  Are ALL the programs we come up with and are doing just programs, making a ‘big splash’ for all to see, taking a lot of effort but accomplishing little?

3.  Are we laboring in God’s strength in accomplishing His plan for eternal salvation?

THE LAST CONTRAST IN ISAIAH 26:19-21:

[19]  Your dead shall live [O Lord]; the bodies of our dead [saints] shall rise.  You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!  For Your dew [O Lord] is a dew of [sparkling] light [heavenly, supernatural dew]; and the earth shall cast forth the dead [to life again; for on the land of the shades of the dead You will let Your dew fall].  [20] Come, my people, enter your chambers and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the [Lord’s] wrath is past.  [21] For behold, the Lord is coming out of His place [heaven] to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth also will disclose the blood shed upon her and will no longer cover her slain and conceal her guilt.”

–“Shut the Front Door”!

ISAIAH draws up on the blackboard for us the instructions for this last contrast:  Between the eternal destination of the righteous and the wicked.

God’s people will rise to eternal life in the middle of ‘shouts for joy’; to share in the festivities of God’s final triumph on earth.  The wicked; the lost souls, will rise to eternal punishment.

The previous three contrast:  Inhabiting the city of salvation vs. the lofty ruins;  Walking the divine path vs. wandering the aimless way;  Working in God’s strength vs. working in our own inability–all are choices we have to make.

Grabbing the Door

–ONE WAY, AND ONLY ONE!

In my investigation regarding “TRUST IN GOD” this past week, I uncovered an old children’s song “One Door and only one”.  It goes like this:

One door and only one

And yet its sides are two.

Inside and outside

On which side are you.

I’ll go on with more of the songs lyrics that fits in nicely with the choices that must be made, sooner than later:

One Door and Only One

And yet its sides are two

I’m on the inside

On which side are you?

One Lord and only one

And yet the ways are two,

Right way and wrong way

On which way are you?

And if the contrasts in the song are not enough to convince you by now, let me give you just a few more choices:

One strength and only one,

yet the works are two.

His strength or our strength,

which strength are you?

One eternity, and only one,

yet the results are two.

Eternal life with God or

eternal separation from God,

WHICH RESULT WILL BE YOURS?