Jesus calls His followers to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him. From this passage, we gain a clearer understanding of what it means to exalt Him as King in our lives and also get a preview of His future glory, when He will reign over all the earth.
From its opening genealogy through its careful record of Old Testament prophecies fulfilled, Matthew's gospel forms a bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament. In this in-depth study by Pastor Skip Heitzig we'll consider Jesus' ancestry, birth, public ministry, death, and resurrection, and we'll gain a clearer understanding of Jesus as both Messiah and King.
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Greek terms: Μεταμορφόω; metamorphoó; transfigured, changed
Figures referenced: Graham Scroggie; Charles Spurgeon
Cross references: Genesis 22:2; Deuteronomy 18:15; Psalm 22; Isaiah 53:1; Isaiah 53:5; Zechariah 14:16; Malachi 4:5-6; Matthew 16:16; Matthew 17:11; John 3:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:13; Hebrews 1:1-2; 2 Peter 1:16-19; Jude 1:9; Revelation 1:14; Revelation 1:16; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 21:23
Keywords: transfiguration, Elijah, Moses
Did you bring your Bible tonight? That's all? Three of you did? Oh good, can you hold it up, love that. Oh you're holding up your little phone, iPads, you technological junkies, you. Well turn them on or you turn off your Facebook and social networking on those poppies if you don't mind. Open your Bibles or iPads to the gospel of Matthew chapter 16 as we finish that out tonight and go into chapter 17 and don't say, "Oh yeah sure we will." Say "Sure we will."
Father we do delight anytime we hear a word from you to us. Sometimes it comes early in the morning when we open our Bibles and it's just you and ourselves, we're on our daily reading and a principle comes up, the truth comes up and it's a like an arrow to the heart or water to a part soul. At other times it's in a setting like this where we have come for the purpose of worshipping you and the real essence of worship is our willingness in Bible study to listen to your voice. We submit ourselves in this time to the word of God and you speak to us that way. Other times we are listening to a radio broadcast or a friend who will counsel us. Sometimes it is still a small voice you just speak to our hearts. But we pray Lord you would give us fresh direction, answering questions, confirming ideas, and helping us on this journey, in Jesus' name, Amen.
One of my favorite quotes is by theologian named Graham Scroggy who said this, "Cut the Bible anywhere and it bleeds, that is there is a scarlet thread that runs throughout the scriptures from the first book of Genesis to the last book of book of Revelation. No matter how you look at it, no matter where you cut it, you will find prominently displayed or predicted the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Cut the Bible anywhere and it bleeds. For example we read about the life of Abraham in the book of Genesis and how Abraham took his son Isaac to a mountain to sacrifice him, Mount Moriah. And God said take your son, your only son Isaac whom you love and we discover the first time the word love is used. It's used in the context of a father sacrificing his son on a mountain, Mount Moriah which interestingly enough was the mountain that Jesus crucified upon, that scarlet thread shows up.
We move to the next book and we read about Moses who lifted up a serpent in the wilderness on a pole and how people in the camp of Israel looked at that serpent and God said if you just believe and you look by faith, it's going to heal you. And Jesus tied that in saying as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the son of man must be lifted up.
We go several more books to the right and we come to the life and writings of King David and David wrote Psalm 22, a vivid description of crucifixion hundreds of years before it was even invented. In fact the opening line of Psalm 22 or one of the sayings of Jesus on the cross, "My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?" and so when we hear Jesus saying that. If we've been Bible students, we go, "That sounds like what David wrote." Indeed.
Then we come to the prophet Isaiah and Isaiah spoke about the 50, in the 53rd chapter about the suffering servant saying, "Who has believed our report? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our inequity. The chastisement for our peace was upon him and by his stripes we are healed. And so we turn from book to book and chapter to chapter and we see scarlet thread through it.
We understand a very crucial principle in this, that the cross, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was paramount, at the top of list when it came to what was important to God and to Jesus. So much so that in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, it refers to Jesus as the lamb slain from the foundation of the world that God had it on His heart, in His mind for his purpose that His Son would come and become the sacrificial lamb for the sins of all the world. And so we see this, this highlighting of the sacrifice, this importance. I call it the billboard of eternity, Jesus Christ's cross is on the billboard of eternity.
If we were to examine how much verbal real estate occupies the four gospels and the events that Matthew, Mark, Luke, John talked about Jesus Christ. We would discover something monumental that one third of all the events that these four men record about the life Jesus occur in the last week of Jesus' life upon the Earth.
Think of it this way. In those four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, there are four chapters, only four chapters that give up information about the first 30 years of Jesus' life. Four chapters only, dealing with 30 years, childhood and everything else, only four, even speak about those events, whereas, 85 chapters focus on the last 3 1/2 years of Jesus' life. That is his public ministry. Of those 85 chapters, 29 deal with the final week of Jesus Christ and out of those 29, 13 deal with the last day of his life. So in totality, 579 verses in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are written about the final day of Jesus upon the Earth, his crucifixion.
So we see what's important, what occupies the priority list for Jesus and I bring that up for a couple of reasons. We begin tonight with Christ foretelling his death in no uncertain, no ambiguous terms, just straight up. And it should be a lesson to us as a fellowship to any who go to other fellowships and especially if there are any clergy listening tonight because there is a growing tendency to be ashamed of the cross in churches. To be ashamed of the gospel, to be more cool, hip, relevant taking songs out of the liturgy that deal with the blood because after all nobody wants to sing about a bloody religion.
Let's talk about social issues, let's talk about personal fulfillment, let's talk about your best life now instead of taking up your cross, denying yourself and following Jesus. If you really want a popular ministry, you have to exclude the cross and include what makes people feel good about themselves. Now with those words, let's begin in Verse 21 and see what Jesus focused on. "From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief Priest and Scribes and be killed and be raised the third day. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him saying "Far be it with you Lord, this shall not happen to." Boy I'm sure Jesus was so lucky to have Peter around to protect him from the big bad wolf. And that's what Peter is trying to do, protect him from the cross.
Now you will notice that Peter is objecting, yes? But Peter is only hearing the negative. He is only hearing the bad stuff. He's not hearing the whole story. Jesus said, "It's going to be bad. They're going to beat me up. I'm going to die and be raised from the dead the third day." Right over his head, did not even think of that, did not even focus on that like so many people, he focuses on the black dot on the white sheet. Instead of saying, "Boy there's a whole lot of white sheet besides that black dot." He's like, "Look at that black dot." And that's all you look at and there are some people who only focus on the dot, on the death, on the suffering, on the bad stuff. "Oh always me, why is my life so miserable?" Neglecting all of the many blessings for which we all ought to be thankful.
Sometimes we get pretty down and depressed and mopy. Ever met a mopy Christian? The reason Christians get mopy is because they haven't heard the word. That is they haven't heard the whole story. They only get a portion of it. They don't hear the whole thing, the rest of the story like our radio personalities used to say. Peter didn't hear the whole story. He didn't go, "Oh yeah that's bad, oh yeah that's – a lot of that. Raised from the dead? That's so cool." He just said, "Far be it from you Lord." Peter wants to protect Jesus. Now why is that? I know we're kind of making fun of Peter but on the other hand I understand the guy. All he knew from his upbringing, his only expectation, he ever learned for the Messiah who is coming that his teachers, his elders, his rabbis taught him, is that it would be a conquering Messiah. A Messiah who wouldn't suffer or a Messiah who would rule and reign and be glorious and overthrow the enemies who are oppressing Israel set up Jerusalem and Israel, Mount Zion, overall the nations. That's what he expected.
So when Jesus said, "Oh by the way Peter, you just confessed that I was the Christ. I want you to know what that what that means. I'm the Christ. You call me the Messiah, but the truth is Peter, you can't worship me as Messiah until you know what the Messiah is. And the Messiah is not what you think it is. It's not who you think it is." And so Jesus begins to focus on his death, the cross, the sacrifice, the bloodshed. Why? Because at his first coming, he came to deal with sin, at his second coming, he will rule and reign. So he began to tell them. Peter took them aside, began to rebuke him saying, "Far be it from you Lord, this shall not happen to you." Now, it's my guess that Peter said this not only as a reaction but as an expectation that the Lord would say, "Yes Peter, you got that answer right too, just like you did the last time when I said, "Who the men say that I am, who do you say that I am and you said I am the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Bingo, you got an A on that question and once again Peter, you show yourself to be at the top of the class." Man you aced it, you're right. You're trying to protect me, good boy. Peter probably said that and then waited for another, "Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah." Or perhaps, "Peter you are so awesome, I'm making you the first pope."
Well let's see what Jesus said to the first pope. He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me." Wow, so is Peter the pope? Or is he Satan? I mean that's quite a gnarly thing to say to a dude who is following you and you think is at the top of pack. "Get behind me Satan for you are an offence to me, for you are not mindful of the things of God but of the things of men." First of all why would Jesus say, "Get behind me Satan."? Was he referring to Peter singularly and saying, "Peter, you're the devil. You are Satan incarnate man."
No, what he was saying in effect is, "I recognize that voice. I've heard it before." And you just go back a few years when Jesus was tested in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights and Satan came to him. And Satan made him an offer so that Jesus wouldn't have to go to the cross, the hard way, the sacrificial way, the bloody way. "I'll give you the world, you came for it. I'll give it to you, just bow down and worship me. You can have it. Don't sacrifice, don't offer yourself, don't go to the cross." Now Peter is saying the same philosophy. So Jesus is saying, "I've heard that voice before, I recognize it. It's the voice of Satan because the philosophy that you are espousing Peter is a Satanic philosophy." That says, "Spare yourself, go for the comfort, not the sacrifice." And so he rebuked him. "You are an offence to me for you are not mindful of the things of God but the things of men."
And that simply means - it's pretty easy to figure out. What do men value more? Sacrifice or comfort? Most people comfort, most men run away from hardship, run away from pain, run away from sacrifice. That's humankind. We do everything we can to avoid that and we play such a high priority on our personal comfort and that's why Jesus said, "You're thinking like a man. You're not thinking like God would think." Peter meant well and Peter was giving Jesus what he considered his best counsel. Peter loved Jesus. Peter followed Jesus, but was Peter's counsel good or bad? It was bad counsel. Now I want you to remember this, not all of the counsel you're gong to receive from Christians though it's well meaning is God inspired. So be careful what you hear. Jesus even said, "Take heed what you hear. Take heed how you hear it."
When you go to somebody for advice, they may give you advice that will be like a man thinks, your comfort so you announce to somebody, "I feel the Lord calling me as a missionary overseas." "Oh don't do that, don't go there. You go to that country they don't even have air conditioning. It's not comfortable, there are diseases, you could get hurt, it's dangerous, avoid the danger. Stay close by." Well meaning advice, it may not be God inspired advice. Peter gave advice but it wasn't what God inspired. So Jesus continues to frame what just happened into a premise of truth. Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will loose it and whoever looses his life for my sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and looses his own soul or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"
You'll notice that in those sentences, Jesus gives to us two different approaches to life. How do you do life? What are the two approaches, to deny yourself or to put yourself first? Deny himself and take up his cross. Two different approaches - deny yourself or deny the suffering so that you can comfort yourself. Love this world, love his kingdom. Take up his cross, run away from his cross. Save your life for the world's sake or deny the world for his sake. Two totally different approaches he lays out here. Now I want to say something to those of us who love evangelism. I love evangelism, I know you do. I know a lot of you bring faithfully your friends, your loved ones to church to hear the gospel. You want them to be exposed to the truth and have an opportunity to come forward. A lot of times on a Wednesday or a Saturday night or a Sunday morning, people will walk forward and give their lives to Christ, I love that. It is so precious. But the danger is they just think, "I raise my hand, I shed a tear, I walked a few steps, I'm done."
No as the song would go, "You've only just began." Boy that's an old song, I'm really dating myself. Now you grow. Now you sink your roots down deep. Now you get stamina as you find out what the Christian life is all about in your discipleship and in your growth because one of the worst things is to be stunted Christian. You come to Christ and then you remain a pygmy believer. You don't grow. You don't eat right. You don't exercise right. You're not growing in fullness and so you're lightweight and when the troubles come and the tribulations comes, as Jesus said in the parables, "You fall away." For he asked, "What profit is it if you gain the world and you lose your own soul or what will a man give in exchange for his soul".
Now go back and just quickly look at that short little list. Deny himself - what does that mean? It doesn't mean that you deny things for yourself. It means that you deny yourself. You deny you. You say no to you. You say yes to him. In other words to deny yourself means, "I take me off the throne. I dethrone Skip and I enthrone Christ." I deny myself, it's all about him.
Second, take up my cross. What does it mean to take up your cross? I had somebody come up and goes, "I understand that now what it means to take up your cross. I got married." And I said, "Are you saying your wife is your cross?" "Yes I am that's exactly right." Usually it's the other way around, a husband is the cross. Well I would say you misunderstand the text. To take your cross, the cross meant death. You come to an end. You deny yourself, you take up your cross, that is – you die to your own personal ambition and you find out what is the Lord's ambition and will and volition for your life and you go with that.
Boy I was amazed coming to this verse. When I went to India, it might have been the third or fourth time. I met a man who introduced himself to me and said that we had met before on my first trip to that country. I didn't recall it but he said, "Well we met and at that time I was a medical doctor, I was in practice. I just finished medical school. I was setting up my practice." He said, "But you gave a message on the verses we're covering." Now what it meant to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow the Lord and give him your all, follow him with abandon, so in hearing your message, I quit my medical practice and I have become a missionary to Northern India where it's a lot harder to be a Christian and to share your faith. But that's where the Lord has called me today and I'm looking for him to say, "You idiot, I shouldn't have listened to you. I gave up a nice career but he had the biggest smile in his face. He gave up his medical practice and he was missionary in a persecuted area." And he said, "It was the best thing ever."
But he took this verse so seriously and I remember that because I was astonished that, "Wow, there's a person who as soon as they heard a principle." they said, "Okay that's what the Lord is calling me to, I'm going to do that." And he sensed that was from the Lord and he did it and he was rejoicing.
Verse 27, "For the son of man will come in his glory or in the glory of his father with his angels and then he will reward each according to his works." Assuredly I say to you there are some standing who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom. There are some people who read those verses and say, "Well, that was a mistake, that never happened." These guys never stayed around long enough to see the coming of the Lord as Jesus promised. Actually they did. The Lord will give to them a sneak preview if you will of his coming Kingdom.
I like to call these things "trailers". That's what they call them in the movie industry. You know when you go to a movie theater and before the movie; they show you the trailers, those little three, four, five minute snippets of the movie? Typically that's – if you've seen that, you've seen the movie. I love the trailer, it's my favorite part, no joke because they take the highlights of the movie and they show you a preview of coming attractions. Jesus promises that some of these men standing there will get a preview of coming attractions. You say, "Well when did that ever happen?"
Thank you for asking, that happened in the very next couple verses, chapter 17. "Now after six days, Jesus took Peter, James, and John, his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves and he was transfigured." 'Metamorphoo' is the word metamorphosis, transfigured before them. His face shown like the sun, his clothes became as white as the light and behold Moses and Elijah appeared to them talking him. First of all, if you want a place where this happened, this high mountain, traditionally, typically people will say it's Mount Tabor. Now unless you've been to Israel, you're going, "Okay you just said a mountain I don't know what that is. It could be Sandia for all I know." Mount Tabor. Mount Tabor is a prominent hill in the Eastern side of the Jezreel Valley. It's where Deborah and Barak against Sisera, remember in the Book of Judges? That's Mount Tabor.
So because that's a prominent hill in the Galilee region, the Eastern side of the Jezreel Valley, that is the traditional place. So on some tours you go to Israel, not ours, but the tour bus will go by Mount Tabor, point up to it and say, "That's where the transfiguration of Jesus Christ took place." The hill is about 1,900 feet above the floor of the valley but I never bought that. I never believed that for a couple of reasons. Number one for a couple of reasons, number one, the Jewish historian Josephus tells us that at that time, the time of Jesus, there was an armed fortress on top of Mount Tabor with a castle. So it's highly unlikely that Jesus would go near there. He couldn't get up there.
Number two our Lord was with his disciples. Do you remember where when we were in chapter 16? It says he took them to Caesarea Philippi remember that? The mountain that is right next to Caesarea Philippi is indeed a high mountain. In fact it is the highest mountain in the Middle East. It's Mount Hermon but so that you don't get that confused with Herman Munster. We should pronounce it the correct way as the Jewish people say, Mount Hermon. Mount Hermon is 9,400 above sea level. In some places in the Jordan Valley, 11,000 below the low part of the Jordan Valley, So it's a very high mountain. I mean it's so high that it houses snow in the winter time and you can go skiing up there. Did you know you can go skiing in Israel? You can go surfing and skiing or snow boarding.
So this high mountain is probably where Jesus took his disciples not necessarily to the top, just upon the slopes and this event happened there. Now it says again in Verse 2, "He was transfigured before them. His face shown like the sun, his clothes became as white as the light."
The Greek word 'metamorphoo', we get the word metamorphosis. When you think of a metamorphosis, you think of what? A butterfly, a caterpillar spinning a cocoon, crawling inside and breaking forth out of a cocoon into a beautiful butterfly. Jesus was metamorphosized before them. That is it wasn't just this appearance that he had but he changed form as the idea. Think of it think way, the Son of God was breaking out of the cocoon of the Son of Man.
Many scholars believed that what the disciples saw was Jesus post-resurrection body that he changed into for this event, a preview of coming attraction, Jesus in his glory. Now later on when we get to the book of Revelation chapter 1, John will see a vision of the glorified Jesus and it's similar.
His head and his hair, John says were white-like wool as white as snow. His countenance was as the sun shining in its strength, this bright glorious appearing of Christ. You know get this, later on after Jesus comes, after the thousand-year reign, after the destruction of the Earth and in the heavens when God makes a new heaven and a new Earth, there's a new capital city called the New Jerusalem and it says, "And there was no sun and no need of the sun or the moon to shine in it for the Lord himself is the light and the lamb and is the light thereof." God himself, Jesus Christ will shine in heaven so that in the New Jerusalem, no electric bills, no need of a sun or a moon, just the glory and the radiance of Christ will light that place.
So what these disciples were essentially in was a time tunnel they're being pushed all the way forward and seeing the coming of the Lord, this post-resurrection glory of Jesus that John saw in chapter 1 of Revelation and the last part of the book of Revelation. They were able to see it and so the promise was fulfilled. Some of you won't taste death until you see the Son of Man coming in his glory. Here he is in his glory.
Now with him are two people, Moses and Elijah. Why those guys? I mean there's a lot of great people in the Old Testament to show up with, Abraham, the father of faith, Joseph also a man of great integrity and faith, Daniel, David, why Moses and why Elijah? Well Moses was probably the greatest person to the Jewish people. He was the law giver, the man who came and gave their covenant to them, the covenant of the law. So he represented the law. Elijah was considered to be the greatest prophet so he represented the prophet. So Jesus is being testified to by the law and by the prophets. Moreover, not only did Moses give the law and was he the law giver of Israel, but he was a messiah-like individual because he mad a prediction of the Messiah saying, "Another prophet will come from among your people just like I am, him you will heed. Him you will listen to, him you will follow." He predicted the coming of the Messiah.
Elijah brought Israel that was apostate following other gods back to the Lord and Elijah was the predicted forerunner of the Messiah, am I right? Malachi chapter 4, last book of the Old Testament, last few verses, God says, "Behold I will send to you Elijah, the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord and he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers lest I come and smite the Earth with a curse." That's why to this day the Jews put an open door at the Passover. They opened a door. They crack it open and they leave an empty seat in case Elijah would come because if Elijah comes, Messiah is not far way.
Not only that but get this, both Moses and Elijah had a glorious vision on a high mountain. Moses was on Mount Sinai and had a glorious experience with the Lord. Elijah was on Mount Horeb which is part of Mount of Sinai, essentially the same mountain and had that wonderful experience of the wind and the fire and the still small voice of Lord, wonderful experience. Both Moses and Elijah were rejected by Israel at a specific time in their ministry. So it fits. He came with Moses and with Elijah.
Now I want to tie in something because I did mention it before but I think some have forgotten and some had questions afterwards. When Moses died, he had a weird death. He didn't make it into the promise land. His death is recorded and we don't know where his burial place is to that this day exactly. We know the area it was and then when it comes to Elijah, the prophet, Elijah never did die.
Yet it says it's appointed in a man, every man wants to die. He didn't die. He was taken up in a chariot into heaven just assume like ruptured into heaven.
Now I'm going to read this odd verse to you. Maybe you've heard of it before in the book of Jude. Listen to this. This is the book Jude, there's only one chapter, it's verse 9. Listen to what the writer says, "Yet Michael, the archangel in contending with the devil about the body of Moses," ain't that wild, "Dared not bring against him a reviling accusation but said the Lord rebuked you." Why would Michael and Satan argue about a dead body? In fact why would God dispatch Michael to do that? Why would God care about a dead body? Unless, just a possibility, unless God had future plans for that body. He didn't want to desecrate it. He wants to it to be protected and then again Elijah didn't die, he was taken up into heaven. Jesus said Elijah is coming back. He says barely Elijah will come again. So Malachi predicted it and Jesus even predicted.
So when do Moses and Elijah come? My belief, Revelation chapter 11, in Revelation chapter 11, there are two witnesses that come for the nation of Israel and their ministry will be broadcast around the world. What's interesting about the two witnesses is what they can do miraculously. They have the power to stop the rain from heaven, that sounds a lot like Elijah who stopped the rain for three and half years and to turn the water into blood. Well that sounds like Moses who did that in Egypt.
So their signature miracles sound a lot like Moses and Elijah. So what I believe we see happening is Jesus meeting with Moses and Elijah, showing the disciples a preview of what's coming as Moses and Elijah in the tribulation period will come and be a witness to Israel and to the world and they're speaking about the coming kingdom.
Verse 4, "Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, Lord", I just love Peter, I love this guy, "Lord it's good for us to be here." I hear that and I go, "Uh, what was your first clue?" If you wish, let us make here three tabernacles, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. Now Peter was a man of action. Something cool happen, he thought, "I want to be busy, I want to build something cool." But it was more than that. It wasn't like he just building a shrine. Let me explain to you what I think is happening. He wants to build tabernacles. Tabernacles, there was a feast every year in the Fall called the Feast of Tabernacles where Israel would build these little booths, little lean-tos, little shacks and they would camp outside for a week. They were commemorating that God was faithful to their forefathers in the wilderness in the desert and they anticipated the coming kingdom in the Feast of Tabernacles.
Now get this, according to most New Testament chronographers, those who study the chronology of the New Testament, they tell us that the Passover at which Jesus will be crucified was six months away and that this event happened in the month of Tishri in the Jewish calendar which would be in the Fall time, during the Feast of Tabernacles. So in seeing Moses and Elijah and it's the Feast of Tabernacles, Peter is thinking of the kingdom age. You say, "Well why is thinking of the kingdom age just because they did that every year. They commemorated the past and they thought of the future, more than that."
The prophet Zachariah in the Old Testament, in chapter 12 of his prophecy talks about nations in the end times coming against Jerusalem. But the people who survive that and go into the kingdom age after that huge confrontation in the Middle East – it says that they will go into the kingdom and celebrate year by year the Feast of Tabernacles. They'll go up to Jerusalem and worship the Lord their king year by year keeping the Feast of Tabernacles.
So just know that, remember that in the thousand-year millennial kingdom, get ready for going to Jerusalem. You go, "Boy I've always wanted to go to Israel." Great, if you've never been able to afford it, you'll go every year and you'll celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, how cool will that be?
Now I do recommend going to Israel first because then you can compare it and you can go, "Well I remember when that was there and what's not there anymore. It looks a lot better now, remember about that?" Yeah so anyway, just a pitch for going
to Israel. But here's what Peter is saying I believe, "Lord this is perfect. You're glowing, you're glorified. We see you in your glory. There's Moses the lawgiver. There's Elijah the forerunner who's suppose to come before the Messiah comes. He's here, we're seeing Moses and Elijah. So don't go to the cross, once again, set up your kingdom. Let me make three tabernacles celebrate in the messianic kingdom right now, let's set it up right now. That's his suggestion, the setting up of the kingdom.
While he's making this suggestion, notice God the Father interrupt him. While he was still speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud saying, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Hear him." In other words, as it says in the Greek, zip it Peter, don't talk but listen to my Son. When the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and they were greatly afraid but Jesus came and touched them and said, "Arise and do not be afraid." And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
I don't blame Peter for making this suggestion. I really don't. If you would see this – if I would see this, if we could've been there to behold this incredible, miraculous apparition, Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, who wouldn't want to stay right there? Who wouldn't want to make this a permanent thing? This looks like the kingdom, bring it on. But Peter makes two mistakes. Mistake number one, he wants to stay up on the mountain when God wants him to go back down in the valley. It's always the problem of going on a retreat. You go up to the mountains, you go up to glorieta, it's in the pine trees, it's so awesome. You feel the tug and the presence and ministry of the Lord. But then you have go back down, Sunday afternoon, go to work Monday back in the valley. And so often we just want to live in that moment, that glorious moment when the Lord wants us to use what we learned in that moment and transfer it into the valley moments, the reality.
The second mistake Peter made and probably the most profound, certainly the most profound is in saying, "Let's build tabernacles, one for your Jesus, one for Moses and Elijah." He is putting Moses and Elijah on the same par as Jesus. Basically saying, all three of you are important, all three of you the same, all three of you the same level. So God says, "This is my beloved Son, listen to him." Peter listened to Moses and Elijah his whole life, listened to the law and the prophets. He'd been reading them. He knew the stories about it, even listening to the law and the prophets, Moses and Elijah his whole life.
Now the Messiah comes, clearly superior to Moses, clearly superior to the prophets. Hebrews chapter 1, verse 1, "God who at different times and in different ways has revealed himself to the fathers by the prophets has in these last days spoken to us by his only Son. God spoke in a lot of different ways but now God is speaking through Jesus, the same message here. "This is my beloved Son, listen to him." Now as they came down from the mountain. Okay stop right there. I want you to turn in your Bibles to the book of II Peter or quickly find on your iPhone or iPad II Peter chapter 1. Why am I doing this? Because Peter talks about this experience several years later, it's his own testimony, his own words, his own interpretation and lessons.
II Peter chapter 1 verse 15, "Moreover.", Verse 15, "I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease for we do not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty, for he received from God the Father honor and glory." That's what he learned that day. "He received from the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to him from the excellent glory. This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased and we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain." And so verse 19, "We have the prophetic word confirmed which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your heart."|
So those were Peter's own testimony of God honoring is Son and placing superiority on his Son over Moses and Elijah. Now notice something about what we read in the Gospel of Matthew. Peter, James and John instantly recognized Moses and Elijah. They didn't have to guess, "Who are those guys?" After all they've been dead hundreds of years. They didn't see them before in flash and yet in this glorious time tunnel, they were able to recognize them. You know I don't think they were wearing name tags. "Hello my name is Moses." There was no introduction, "I'm Moses, Peter. Peter, Moses, Elijah, Peter, James." They just – they recognized them.
Sometimes I get to ask the question, when we're in heaven, will recognize each other? We're going to be glorified and our bodies resurrected, will recognize it? Are you kidding? We'll will we know each other in heaven? I don't think we won't know each other until we get to heaven. That's when we'll really know each other. Somebody asked Charles Spurgeon, "Will re recognize each other in heaven?" his answer was classic he goes, "Do you think we're going to be more stupid in heaven than we are on Earth?" That's a great answer. Yeah, you will know even as you are known as I Corinthians tells. So that's Moses and Elijah pairing with Jesus.
Verse 9 in Matthew chapter 17, let's hurry. "Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded him saying, "Tell the vision to no one until the son of man is risen from the dead." No use to make a scene of it and cause confusion. "His disciples asked him saying, "Why then do the Scribes say that Elijah must come first?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Indeed Elijah is coming first and will restore all things." Referring to Malachi for the promise made there. "But I say to you that Elijah has come already and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished likewise the son of man is also about to suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that he spoke to them of John the Baptist.
You understand their struggle don't you? So if the Scribes and Rabbis say, "Elijah is coming and we just saw Elijah, then why does the Messiah, you have to die?" I don't get the death part of it. You keep bringing up the fact that you're going to die and we just saw this glorious apparition and Elijah. So if Elijah is going to come before the Messiah and we just saw Elijah here, the Messiah, could you like append what you just said? Because it didn't make sense to us, they're trying to deal with it. That's not what they've been brought up to believe.
Now they understood Jesus was talking about John the Baptist. In a sense he fulfilled Elijah as we talked about back in chapter 10 and 11 when we studied that. The prophecy was that Malachi 4 verse 5 and 6, "Behold I send to you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord." He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and children to the fathers. Now in a sense, John the Baptist, in a sense fulfilled that. He was an Elijah-like forerunner as was prophesied at John the Baptist birth, remember that? He will come in the spirit and the power of Elijah. John the Baptist succeeded in turning the hearts of the fathers back to the children and the children back to the fathers.
He was successful in moving many people in the nation back to the Lord and reconciled in the relationships but not totally. Many were baptized at the Jordan River but, but John the Baptist suffered, was rejected and died. And so the suffering forerunner John the Baptist followed by the suffering Messiah, Jesus Christ. In the end times, the real deal Elijah will come and usher in the second coming of Jesus Christ. So Elijah is coming, that's true, that's going to happen, Jesus said. But in a sense if you can receive it, he's already come. And they go, "Oh I get it, he means John the Baptist that this whole forerunner thing comes in two phases, one J the B, John the Baptist before Jesus' death and then Elijah – the real deal prophet in the end times." Makes sense?
Verse 14, "And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to him kneeling down to him saying, "Lord have mercy on my son for he is an epileptic." If you have a King James, it says – anybody have an Old King James? It says lunatic right? "Lord help my son, he's a lunatic." I think a lot of fathers would say that about their son from time to time. It's translated epileptic here but the original term is lunatic. Now when you hear the word "Luna" if you speak Spanish, what does it sound like? Moon because the word lunatic literally comes from a word that means moonstruck and the belief system in ancient times is that the moon could make a person crazy if you stared at the moon too long, you become a lunatic. You become and so what they do, they would take certain neurological diseases and say, "Well he has that because he was influenced by the moon, he's a lunatic."
They didn't understand. That's an old way of saying, epilepsy. So he brings his son whom he blames on the heavens, the zodiac, stars and the moon. He's an epileptic, that's how it's translated in the newer translations and he suffers severely for his often falls into the fire and into the water, so I brought him to your disciples but they could not cast him out or cure him, excuse. Jesus answered and said, "Oh faithless and perverse generation, how long shall i be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to me." And Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of him and the child was cured from that very hour.
So here we have an instance where a physical ailment was brought on by a spiritual condition about a young boy being demon possessed. Jesus said to them, when they said, "Why couldn't we cast him out?" Verse 19, "He said to them, because of your unbelief, for if you had faith as a mustard seed, you would say to this mountain, "Move from here to there and it will move and nothing will be impossible for you." However, this kind is not come out by prayer, except by prayer and by fasting."
If you think back a few chapters, around chapter 10, Jesus sent his disciples out and gave them power to heal, power over unclean spirits to deliver people from demons. They had the power. They could exercise the power, yet here it seems like their faith had been sagging a little bit. It was less than it ought to be. They saw a great things but they're at a point where perhaps they were trusting in the power rather than in the source and it's because of the commission of the Lord. So they asked him, "Why couldn't we do it?" and he says, "Because of your unbelief." Then he gives to them something that we don't understand as much as original hearers would understand because the Rabbis usually talked about mustard seed faith. That is something that is small but becomes big and the moving of the mountain was also an axiomatic phrase. It was a figure of speech. It meant to overcome difficulties in many ancient writings. So, I don't want you think that Jesus is saying, "You can actually go up to the Sandia Mountains if you really believe and you could move it from that side. Maybe you just want a better afternoon that's a little bit cooler and move it to the West side. He wouldn't give you that power.
It would be senseless and pointless for you to move the geography around, also we know it doesn't mean that because there's no incident where Jesus himself said, "I don't like that mountain there, it looks better over here" or the disciples doing it or anybody throughout history doing it. So it was a figure of speech that human difficulties can be overcome in this case demon-possession sickness by the power of faith in Jesus that something small like their faith which is wavering can become big like a mustard seed, can grow and overcome impossibilities so-called and difficulties.
This verse along with others had been hijacked by the faith movement. He said, if you have enough faith, you just confess and you just speak it out loud and you'll get whatever it is, nonsense. That's faith in faith and so many sermons - it's faith and positive thinking and faith in verbal confession and said, faith – instead of faith in Christ being connected to that source. He says, however, this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting, some people see that as not in the original, so, I'll even skip making comment on that. I do want to finish the next couple of verses so we can say we did.
So while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, the son of man is about to betrayed into the hands of men. There it is again, going back to the cross, that's his focus and they will kill him and the third day he will be raised up and they were exceedingly sorrowful. They are just like us. Somebody we know and love dies and goes to heaven. We become exceedingly sorrowful. It's understandable because we'll miss them but for that person who loved Jesus and is in the presence of Jesus and is not suffering but is at total peace and that is our ultimate destination, are you nuts?
What instead saying, "He died and he went to heaven, boo-hoo." We said, I got to tell you something that happened two your son or your friend or your husband or you wife. You won't see them for many years. Some relative from out of nowhere just gave them $200 billion gazillion dollars and they're living on an island it the Caribbean and they've developed a mission base from which they are going to broadcast and send missionaries all over the world. They're living in the lap of luxury. They're living at ease and they are living a meaningful life the rest of their existence. Now I know it's weird and you won't see him for a long time.
Boy if somebody said that that my son was now in the place serving the Lord and set up in total peace, I would go, "Oh I'm so bumped out for him." Okay so that person has left Earth and gone to heaven and see once again they're hearing the death part but not the raise the third day. They're just exceedingly sorrowful. Sometimes their sorrow is exceedingly sorrowful. You can be sorrowful but not exceedingly sorrowful. Sorrowful is Biblical. Paul talked about mourning and sorrowing but we do it differently from those who have no hope. So there's hopeful mourning and then there's hopeless mourning.
A Christian has a hopeful mourning, they cry because I'm going to miss that person but I'm so stoked for that person. They're in glory, let's have a party. Let's comfort each other in the loss but let's celebrate the life that has not ceased. That person is now very much alive. When they had come to Capernaum, those who receive the temple tax came to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay temple tax?" and he said yes. And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him. Before he could say anything, he said, "What do you think Simon? From whom the kings of the Earth take custom of taxes, from their sons or from strangers? Do you think kings will tax their own kids to pay for the kingdom are you kidding?" Peter said to them, "From strangers."
Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are free?" Nevertheless lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, take the fish that comes up first – we have open its mouth – get this, you will find a piece of money. Take that and give it to them for me you and you. Would you love that to happen around April 15th? Or you can say Jesus was a handy guy to have around for Peter, "Man, a temple tax and I find a fish, just the right amount of money into" some great lessons in that. We finished the chapter. We'll remark on a few of those salient lessons next time.
Father, we do thank you that you've given to us the Holy Spirit. You've given to us the resident true teacher that lives inside of us that confirms for us, the Scripture, the Word of God so that we're led by the Spirit and not by the flesh. Lord I thank you for my brothers and sisters who come out to go plow through the Scripture verse by verse, chapter by chapter as we expound the truth. Your Word says that you are a rewarder of those who diligently seek you and I pray that you would reward those who are seeking you by coming out to worship and to worship by applying the Word to their lives. I pray you'd strengthen, I pray you'd direct each person and you would be the satisfier of each soul.
We pray Father for your comfort especially this week as we have lost a dear brother on our staff, Bless Palmer. Our hearts break, we are sorrowful. We mourn his loss, there's a huge vacancy because of his powerful ministry to us but our sorrow is not excessive because there's hope mingled in that sorrow. We're hopeful. His was a life well lived. He is in the Father's house. He is beholding your glory what was seen momentarily by three disciples on that mountain and thank you Lord for the hope he lived with and how many he led to Christ.Father we pray that our lives would be well-lived and we would deny our self, take up the cross and follow after you. I pray that rather than existing, rather than just bringing home money to buy food and putting clothes on our body and just existing that we would be really living and true life comes the very opposite way the world tells us it comes. It's not by promoting ourselves, it's by denying ourselves. It's not by running away from the cross but by taking it up. It's not by trying to save our life for the world's sake; it's by loosing our life for your sake. Would you show us individually what that means and how it's to be applied? That at the end of our life, we can say, "I've fought a good fight; I finished the race and now it's there laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord the righteous judge will give to me on that day." Where we live in such a way that we hear you say to say, "Well done good and faithful servant." And help us Lord to not neglect such times as this, the fellowshipping of ourselves, the mingling of ourselves together, the assembly of the saints, studying the Scriptures together. It has become our habit in Jesus name. Amen.