Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Transfiguration of Love

A Transfiguration of Love

Text: Luke 9:28-36

Sermon Statement

The transfiguration of Jesus Christ is a God-event which affirms who Jesus is and encourages him to the cross. We can draw encouragement from a God who loves us that he plans for our redemption through his son, Jesus Christ.

Today is 14 February 2010, an auspicious day because

  • First day of the Chinese Lunar New Year- the Year of the Metal/Gold Tiger. The Zodiac tiger is often associated with wood so metal is a rare year. The last metal tiger is in 1950.

  • Valentine Day for lovers and romance. No panties day for Malaysia where women are encouraged not to wear panties for valentine day to show their love!

Numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine. The Valentines honored on February 14 are Valentine of Rome (Valentinus presb. m. Romae) and Valentine of Terni (Valentinus ep. Interamnensis m. Romae). Valentine of Rome was a priest in Rome who was martyred about AD 269 and was buried on the Via Flaminia. His relics are at the Church of Saint Praxed in Rome, and at Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland.

The Early Medieval acta of either Saint Valentine were expounded briefly in Legenda Aurea. According to that version, St Valentine was persecuted as a Christian and interrogated by Roman Emperor Claudius II in person. Claudius was impressed by Valentine and had a discussion with him, attempting to get him to convert to Roman paganism in order to save his life. Valentine refused and tried to convert Claudius to Christianity instead. Because of this, he was executed. Before his execution, he is reported to have performed a miracle by healing the blind daughter of his jailer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine%27s_Day

  • Transfiguration day

Text: Luke 9:28-36

LK 9:28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, 31 appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, "Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters--one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." (He did not know what he was saying.) 34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him." 36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.

The account of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ as recorded here in Mark 9:1-10; Matthew 17:1-3 and Luke 9:28-36.

The significance of the transfiguration event is that

(1) Jesus Christ reveals his divine nature

The transfiguration of Jesus Christ is a demonstration to three witnesses that Jesus Christ was who He claimed to be.

v.18-20 Peter’s confession of Christ

LK 9:18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say I am?" 19 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life." 20 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "The Christ of God."

v.21ff Jesus told that he will suffer, die, raised to life

21 Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22 And he said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life." 23 Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God."

v.28-36 The Transfiguration

v.41 Healing of boy with evil spirit

v.42 Jesus tells of his betrayal

In all three accounts of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ, we are given the names of the three disciples who accompanied Jesus and who stood as human witnesses to the glory that was Christ's.

There were also three heavenly witnesses, Moses, Elijah, and the voice of God from heaven. Therefore, the Old Testament law of three witnesses required to attest to any fact (Deuteronomy 19:15) was satisfied both in earth and in heaven.

There are many features about the account which derive significance from the OT.

  • Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets witnessing to the Messiah and being fulfilled and superseded by him.
  • Each of them had had a vision of the glory of God on a mountain, Moses on Sinai (Ex. 24:15) and Elijah on Horeb (1 Ki. 19:8).
  • Each of them left no known grave (Dt. 34:6; 2 Ki. 2:11).
  • The law of Moses and the coming of Elijah are mentioned together in the last verses of the OT (Mal. 4:4-6).
  • The two men at the empty tomb (Lk. 24:4; Jn. 20:12) and
  • The two men at the ascension (Acts 1:10)
  • the ‘two witnesses’ (Rev. 11:3) are sometimes also identified with Moses and Elijah.

The word "transfigured" is a very interesting word. The Greek word is "metamorpho" and it means to transform, literally or figuratively to metamorphose, or to change. The word is a verb that means to change into another form. It also means to change the outside to match the inside. The prefix "meta" means to change and the "morphe" means form.

In the case of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ it means to match the outside with the reality of the inside. To change the outward so that it matches the inward reality. Jesus' divine nature was "veiled" (Hebrews 10:20) in human form and the transfiguration was a glimpse of that glory. Therefore, the transfiguration of Jesus Christ displayed the Shekinah glory of God incarnate in the Son.

Therefore, the transfiguration of Jesus Christ was a unique display of His divine character and a glimpse of the glory, which Jesus had before He came to earth in human form.

2 Peter 1:16-18

2PE 1:16 We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

Jesus Christ Affirmed- Sonship and Authority

35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him."

The voice of God attesting to the truth of Jesus' Sonship was the second time God's voice was heard. The first time was at Jesus' baptism into His public ministry by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:7; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22).

2 Peter 1:19

2PE 1:19 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

(2) Jesus Christ receives encouragement

In light of the self-revelation Jesus had just made six days earlier about his own suffering and death, and in light of the parallel with the heavenly voice at his baptism being followed by a major trial, it seems likely that the transfiguration would be equally an encouragement for Jesus. The presence of Elijah and Moses with him in the cloud would affirm his path to the cross and remind him of its necessity, for as Paul says, “the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ… whom God publicly displayed as a mercy seat for sins…” (Rom 3:21-22, 25).

The cloud symbolizes

  • the covering of the divine presence (Ex. 24:15-18; Ps. 97:2).
  • There is a cloud to receive Christ out of his disciples’ sight at the ascension (Acts 1:9).
  • The return of Christ will be with clouds (Rev. 1:7).

(3) God is with us and will helps us because he loves us

The key to understanding the transfiguration is love. It is love that God sends his Son to suffer for our sake. It is love that Jesus undertakes the suffering. And it is love that God will see us through the coming years.

Lessons for us

Jesus is who he says it is

The transfiguration is also for the encouragement of Jesus to face his coming suffering

God is with us and will help us because he loves us


  • v.28. said this. This refers to Luke 9:18-27 (Peter’s Confession of Christ)
  • 9:28-31. About eight days later Jesus . . . took three of His apostles up onto a mountain to pray. But Mark wrote that the event occurred after six days (Mark 9:2). The two accounts are not contradictory if one understands Mark as speaking of the intervening days and Luke as including the days of Jesus’ teaching as well as the day on which the transfiguration took place. The transfiguration may have occurred on Mount Hermon near Caesarea Philippi (cf. Mark 8:27), though some say it was Mount Tabor. At the transfiguration three events occurred:

1. Jesus’ face and clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. This would have immediately reminded those present of Moses’ face shining with a bright light when he received the tablets of the Law (Ex. 34:29-35).

2. Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke with Jesus. The bodies of Moses and Elijah were never found. God buried Moses’ body (Deut. 34:5-6), and Elijah did not die but was taken up to heaven (2 Kings 2:11-12, 15-18). These two men represent the beginning and the end of Israel, for Moses, as the Lawgiver, founded the nation, and Elijah is to come back before the great and terrible day of the Lord (Mal. 4:5-6).

3. Moses and Elijah spoke about His departure (exodon, “going out or away”) which He was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. “Departure” referred to Jesus’ leaving the world through which He would bring salvation—much as Yahweh had brought deliverance to Israel in its Exodus (departure) from Egypt. This departure was to be fulfilled in Jerusalem. From this point on, Jesus indicated several times that He was headed toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51, 53; 13:33; 17:11; 18:31). Jesus did not want His miracles widely publicized at that time, for the fulfillment had to be at Jerusalem. This was confirmed by Elijah’s and Moses’ words.

9:32-33. Three disciples were with Jesus. This number is reminiscent of Moses’ three companions—Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu—who saw God (Ex. 24:9-11). Peter, James, and John were very sleepy at the beginning of the transfiguration. Later these three and the others fell asleep while Jesus was praying in the garden (Luke 22:45). As the disciples woke up, they were overwhelmed with the glory of the situation. They realized they were in a kingdom setting which triggered Peter’s idea that they build three shelters. Peter may have been thinking of the Feast of Booths, a feast of ingathering long associated with the coming kingdom (cf. Zech. 14:16-21). Peter seemed to have assumed that the kingdom had arrived.

Luke editorially inserted that Peter did not know what he was saying. The thought is not that Peter misunderstood the significance of the kingdom setting—he was correct in that. The problem was that he forgot Jesus’ prediction that He would suffer (Luke 9:23-24).

9:34-36. While Peter was speaking, a cloud . . . enveloped them. Grammatically the word “them” could refer to the three disciples or to all six people (Jesus, Moses, Elijah, and the three disciples). But more likely it refers to Jesus and the heavenly visitors, with the disciples being those who were afraid. A cloud was often a symbol of God’s divine presence (Ex. 13:21-22; 40:38). Perhaps the disciples thought Jesus was being taken away from them, and they would never see Him again. As was the case at Jesus’ baptism (Luke 3:22), so here a voice spoke to those witnessing the event: This is My Son, whom I have chosen; listen to Him. Those familiar with the Old Testament, as the disciples were, doubtless immediately recognized the reference (in the words “listen to Him”) to Deuteronomy 18:15 with its messianic prediction of a Prophet greater than Moses. The people were to listen to (i.e., obey) the Prophet. Suddenly the disciples saw that Jesus was alone. At that time they did not tell anyone what they had seen. The experience at the transfiguration fulfilled Jesus’ prediction (Luke 9:27). Three of the disciples did see a manifestation of the kingdom of God before they died (cf. 2 Peter 1:16-19).


  • We conclude with notes on some of the theological significance of the transfiguration. The following comments are only preliminary; frankly, it would take years, perhaps a lifetime, to explore the depths of the meaning of the transfiguration. (a) It symbolized and foreshadowed both the resurrection and parousia. (b) It was a temporary unveiling of the Son of God’s eternal glory. (c) That this glory was seen and not just expounded on was so that “the disciples could taste in part what could not be fully comprehended” (Calvin). That is, as the old Chinese proverb says, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” (d) Moses and Elijah were a part of the picture to show both continuity with the OT in the ministry of Jesus and his own uniqueness and absolute authority (hence he alone wore the brilliant clothing, and he alone is identified from heaven as the one to be obeyed). (e) The cloud was a continuation of the Shekinah glory: the presence of God has returned fully in the person of Jesus Christ. And Moses and Elijah are there, silently endorsing him as the one in whom men meet God. Our final two points are taken largely from 2 Peter rather than from Mark; they represent Peter’s own reflections on the theological significance of the transfiguration. (f) The certainty of Christ’s glory is transferred to believers: they too will glorified and this fact should give them confidence as they face death (cf. 2 Peter 1:16-18; 1 John 3:2). (g) The certainty of Christ’s glory also gives believers confidence in him as a prophet and those whom he authorizes as prophets (2 Peter 1:16-21). In sum, the transfiguration is a part of the heavenly glory that even the apostle Paul could allude to when he wrote, Logivzomai gaVr o{ti oujk a[xia taV paqhvmata tou' nu'n kairou' proV" thVn mevllousan dovxan ajpokalufqh'nai eij" hJma'" (Rom 8:18). http://bible.org/article/transfiguration-jesus-mark-91-10-some-biblico-theological-reflections

  • The upper part The Transfiguration of Jesus by Raphael is an event reported by three of the Gospels in which Jesus is transfigured upon a mountain (one is Matthew 17: 1-9). Jesus became radiant, spoke with Moses and Elijah, and was called "Son" by God. Peter, James and John were with Jesus upon the mountain. The transfiguration put Jesus above Moses and Elijah, the two preeminent figures of Judaism. The lower part is a different scene from the Bible, in which the disciples fail to cure a sick boy.

  • Half-Finished Painting

A. C. Dixon tells us that when the great artist Raphael died at the early age of 37, some of his friends and relatives carried his marvelous painting “The Transfiguration” in the funeral procession. It was only partially finished, and they felt that because of his youth and the limited time he was allotted to use his creative genius, it was a symbol of life’s shortness. But the completed picture has a deeper meaning—a message that should impress itself upon all of us: life’s sojourn is fleeting and death sometimes terminates even our best efforts.

—Henry G. Bosch


  • TRANSFIGURATION. The transfiguration is recorded in Mt. 17:1-8; Mk. 9:2-8; Lk. 9:28-36. Its absence from John is usually accounted for on the ground that the whole of Christ’s life was a manifestation of the divine glory (Jn. 1:14; 2:1l, etc.). There is also a reference to it in 2 Pet. 1:16-18.

In the Synoptic Gospels the event takes place about a week after Peter’s confession of the Messiahship of Jesus. He took his three closest disciples, Peter, James and John, up to a mountain (probably Hermon, which rises to a height of 2,814 m above sea-level). There he was transformed (rather than changed in appearance) and his garments shone with heavenly brightness. Moses and Elijah then appeared and talked to him, and Peter suggested making three tents for them. A voice then came from a cloud declaring Christ’s Sonship and his authority, after which the vision ended. The narrative suggests that the whole event was objective, though many modern scholars have sought to describe it in terms of a subjective experience of Jesus or of Peter.

The transfiguration marks an important stage in the revelation of Jesus as the Christ and the Son of God. It is an experience similar to his baptism (Mt. 3:13-17; Mk. 1:9-11; Lk. 3:21f.). Here his glory is revealed not just through his deeds, but in a more personal way. The glory denotes the royal presence, for the kingdom of God is in the midst of his people.

There are many features about the account which derive significance from the OT. Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets witnessing to the Messiah and being fulfilled and superseded by him. Each of them had had a vision of the glory of God on a mountain, Moses on Sinai (Ex. 24:15) and Elijah on Horeb (1 Ki. 19:8). Each of them left no known grave (Dt. 34:6; 2 Ki. 2:11). The law of Moses and the coming of Elijah are mentioned together in the last verses of the OT (Mal. 4:4-6). The two men at the empty tomb (Lk. 24:4; Jn. 20:12) and at the ascension (Acts 1:10) and the ‘two witnesses’ (Rev. 11:3) are sometimes also identified with Moses and Elijah. The heavenly voice, ‘This is my beloved Son; listen to him’ (Mk. 9:7), marks Jesus out not only as the Messiah but also as the Prophet of Dt. 18:15ff.

The cloud symbolizes the covering of the divine presence (Ex. 24:15-18; Ps. 97:2). There is a cloud to receive Christ out of his disciples’ sight at the ascension (Acts 1:9). The return of Christ will be with clouds (Rev. 1:7).

In Luke we are told that the subject of their conversation was the exodos which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. This seems to mean not simply his death but the great facts of his death and resurrection as the means of redemption of his people typified by the OT Exodus from Egypt.

The transfiguration is therefore a focal point in the revelation of the kingdom of God, for it looks back to the OT and shows how Christ fulfils it, and it looks on to the great events of the cross, resurrection, ascension and parousia. Peter was wrong in trying to make the experience permanent. What was needed was the presence of Jesus alone and attention to his voice.


Soli Deo Gloria

cf. confer, compare

i.e. id est, that is

[1]Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (230). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[2]Tan, P. L. (1979; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1997). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers (electronic ed.). Garland TX: Bible Communications.

[3]Douglas, J. (1982; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996). New Bible Dictionary. Includes index. (electronic ed. of 2nd ed.) (1212). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House.

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