One of the great blessings of being involved in Christian ministry is seeing individuals transformed by the grace of God. Often one could not have imagined that people could change so markedly and often so quickly. It seems that some of those folk were radically transformed from within as they opened themselves to the transforming power of God.
The Bible does talk about the transformation of humans and actually uses the same word used to describe the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain. So we will examine that before examining what human transformation might look like.
Jesus had previously asked His disciples before His transfiguration, “Who do you say I am?” God gave Peter the revelation that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, and also the Son of God. Jesus accepted what Peter had said about Him, but He then went on to tell them that He Himself had to suffer and die in His role as the Messiah. Peter found that hard to accept.
But God in His mercy allowed something to happen that was going to give them hope when that tragedy would eventually strike. The memory of an incident that was about to happen, would bring them meaning and hope in the dark times ahead.
- They would know that Jesus was not just a deluded man.
- They would know that He was in reality the Son of God who had come to do God’s will.
The incident that was about to happen has been called the “Transfiguration of Jesus.”
1). WHAT THE TRANSFIGURATION REVEALED ABOUT JESUS.
We read that about a week after Peter had recognised Him as the Messiah, Jesus had taken the inner three, Peter, James and John up onto the mountain to pray. Three amazing things happened.
i.. Jesus was transformed or transfigured before them. 9:2,3. “There he was transfigured [metamorphoō, μεταμορφόω] before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.”
- A metamorphosis took place. He was bathed in the glory of God. It’s as though the veil that hid His pre-existent glory as the Son of God, was lifted, and for that short time, the disciples saw His unveiled glory. The vision of that day, would never leave them.
- His clothes became exceeding white (leukos). (eg, the root of the word “leukemia” describing the production of abnormal white blood cells.)
ii.. There appeared two representatives of the Old Testament with Jesus.
- Somehow the three disciples recognised them as Moses and Elijah.
- The disciples were amazed, and didn’t know what to do. What a joy to have 2 of the most famous people in Israelite history standing with Jesus.
- Peter in his astonishment suggests that they build shelters. He wanted to “encapsulate the experience”, as I heard someone once say.
But experiences aren’t just given for their own sake. There was meaning behind those 2 people appearing with Jesus.
- The significance of Moses representing the Law of the Old Testament [OT], as the law giver.
- The significance of Elijah as a representative of the Prophets of the OT, a man powerful in word and deed, as Jesus was.
The “Law” and the “Prophets” formed the major part of the OT. They pointed to Jesus, they witnessed to the Christ, and now Jesus as the fulfilment of the Law and Prophets was present with them.
There was about to be a third witness to Jesus, God the Father Himself.
iii. From heaven God the Father bore witness to Jesus.
Mark 9:7) Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”
God Himself bore witness to Jesus that Jesus was His Son.
From that time, Peter, James and John would know for certain that Jesus was not only the Messiah, but also that He was God’s eternal Son.
It’s obvious that the whole incident made a great impact on them, for we find Peter writing shortly before his own death, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honour and glory from the God the Father, and the voice was borne to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with Him on the holy mountain.” 2 Pet 1:16-18.
Peter was writing about facts, not myths;
- about Jesus the Messiah who had come in power, not weakness;
- about Jesus as God’s beloved Son, not simply a man bearing the curse of God in crucifixion.
The apostles came to recognise
- that Jesus was the Messiah sent to redeem His people.
- that Jesus was none other than the eternal Son of God who had come to live in the world He had made, and to die for the sins of His people.
2). WHAT THE TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS REVEALS ABOUT US.
- What the transfiguration says to you and to me is this. “You are significant. You are loved”.
- Why? Because the One who was transfigured, who later died for us on the cross, is none other than the Son of God Himself.
Paul wrote in Rom 5:6-8, that God’s love isn’t based on prejudice nor on discrimination. “While we were yet helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why one will hardly die for a righteous man- though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
We see the great contrast between human commitment where we commit ourselves to one another, and God’s commitment to us.
- In human commitment we might go out of our way to help someone whom we feel is worthy or whom we feel, deserves it.
- By contrast the love of God is shown in the death of Jesus as He died for those who were unworthy, rebellious, and largely ungrateful.
3). THE COMMAND AT THE TRANSFIGURATION.
Not only did God say of Jesus, “This is My beloved Son.” He also said to the apostles, “Keep on listening to Him.” That was significant because Luke records that both Moses and Elijah had appeared with Jesus at the transfiguration, speaking with Him about His exodus (departure, death) at Jerusalem.
As we have seen, Moses represented the word of God in the law of God, and Elijah represented the word of God through the words of the prophets of God.
At the transfiguration, there was the threefold witness; the law and the prophets and the voice of God Himself bore witness to the truth about Jesus.
The new factor was the command from God, “Listen to Him.” That is, “As you have obeyed the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah), now observe His teaching.” The word of Jesus was being added to the word of God through the ages. His word had authority because He had authority as the Son of God and as the Messiah.
The attitudes we adopt to Jesus and to Jesus’ words, are the attitudes we are adopting to God Himself.
4). OUR TRANSFIGURATION. (INTO THE LIKENESS OF CHRIST).
“Who do you think you are?” Do you see yourself as a rotten person, and that you’ll never be any different? When you look in the mirror, do you worry that you’ll keep on seeing the same person you don’t like much, and thinking the same negative things about yourself?
Well the transfiguration of Jesus can help us with our own personal transformation. Paul wrote in Rom 12:2, using a word that was used to describe the transfiguration or transformation of Jesus. He wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed (transfigured) by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God…” As your attitudes are renewed, you will be transformed.
Two main attitudes need to be renewed.
- The first is our attitude to Jesus. What you think about Him, determines to a great extent what He can do for you. If you think He was just a good man who preached a nice message of love, then that’s not going to be a great deal of help to you.
But if you begin to see Jesus as the Person He really is, the Son of God Who came that He might fulfil His role as the Messiah by dying on the cross to bear your sins and your illnesses, then such a thought makes all the difference in the world.
The more you see Him as what He claimed to be, and the more you act upon that knowledge, the more you allow Him to touch your life in every way.
2.. The second attitude is that which we have to ourselves.
If what you see in your mirror is an unclean, useless and absolutely insignificant person, then that’s not very helpful for healthy living or for receiving God’s healing power. You’re almost saying to God, “I don’t matter. Please don’t take any notice of me.” Because God doesn’t barge in where He’s not invited, He can’t really do anything for those who shut Him out of their lives through pride or through false humility.
What we can do is to face up to the facts.
- The fact is that you matter intensely to God. Would Jesus the Son of God have left His glory in heaven to die for us individually if He didn’t care for us individually?
- The fact is that God has shown His love for us in Jesus taking our place on the cross.
- The fact is that He doesn’t want us to remain as we are, but wants to bring us into a deeper degree of wholeness and healing.
Do you deserve it? No! But God in His amazing grace wants to bless and heal His people. What more can Jesus do to prove His love? It’s a matter of affirming what He says about you, how He sees you, and living in the light of the facts, not how you feel.
NOTE. WE don’t transform ourselves. It is the Holy Spirit of God Who does the transforming as we get our focus right in life. ( I have written previously on this passage from 2 Corinthians 3:18 which you may care to look at later. However, in brief, it is saying that when we get our focus right in life by focussing on Jesus, we behold and reflect that which we are looking at, namely Him and His glory. As our focus remains on Him the Spirit brings about an inner transformation so that we become more like Him.
Paul wrote these words about such a transformation, “And we all, who with unveiled (anakalúptō, ἀνακαλυπτω) faces, contemplate (katoptrízō, κατοπτριζω, meaning to behold or to reflect) the Lord’s glory, are being transformed [metamorphoō, μεταμορφόω] into his image (eikṓn, εἰκών meaning image or likeness) with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor 3:18.
To be conformed into the likeness of Christ has always been God’s eternal purpose for His children as Romans 8:29 indicates, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
The Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain means that the transformation of humans is possible as they receive Him, behold and reflect Him and allow the Spirit of God to change them progressively, from one degree of glory to another!
Blog No.259. Posted on jimholbeck.blog on Sunday 4th February 2018.