An all-creatures Bible Message


American Baptist - United Methodist

18 FEBRUARY 1996
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References

Psalm 119:33-40
Matthew 17:1-13
John 14:6
Romans 12:2
1 Corinthians 3:10-15
2 Peter 1:16-21

What is transfiguration?

Is it just a miracle that Jesus showed James and John and Peter?

What is it, and what does it have to do with us today?

Let's begin to answer this question by looking at the miracle that took place on that mountain nearly 2,000 years ago. (Matthew 17:1-13)

1. And six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and brought them up to a high mountain by themselves.

2. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.

3. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.

Why were these two men with Jesus?

Moses represents the Law and Elijah represents the Prophets, and in particular, the prophet in whose spirit the forerunner of Messiah will come.

But the dead can not come back. Then how is it that these two were with Jesus?

If we follow the other teachings of Scripture, we know that they didn't return from the dead. This event took place in the realm of heaven where they were.

Is that what Peter understood?

4. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

Obviously Peter didn't fully understand.

He knew he saw a miracle, but he didn't understand how it affected him personally.

He seemed only to be thankful that Jesus invited him to witness this event.

5. While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!"

Peter is like all too many of us; he talks before he listens and before he gets his mind in gear.

When God tells us to listen, we are to listen; and when we are shown such a vision, we are to ponder it over in our minds and pray about it's meaning.

6. And when the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were much afraid.

God doesn't speak to us in order to frighten us, but to help us to learn.

What is it that God wanted these Disciples to learn from this experience, and what does He want us to learn?

7. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Arise, and do not be afraid."

8. And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one, except Jesus Himself alone.

Jesus really didn't need to come up upon this mountain for Himself; He wanted the disciples to come to understand something very important that they, in turn, could pass on to others.

But listen to what Jesus tells them:

9. And as they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead."

If Jesus wanted them to tell others about this vision, why couldn't they speak about it until after His resurrection?

Because He didn't want them telling others that they saw into heaven and that they saw Moses and Elijah upon the mountain, for they would have been considered crazy; and Jesus wanted their testimony to be credible, which wouldn't occur until the Holy Spirit came upon them.

But the really important message of this vision is that Jesus came to fulfill both the Law and the Prophets, and that only those who are transfigured with Jesus can enter the kingdom of heaven.

Only those people get into heaven!

But these disciples were still unsure of what had taken place, for again they missed the point and asked Jesus another question, one that Jesus didn't rebuke.

10. And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?"

11. And He answered and said, "Elijah is coming and will restore all things;

12. but I say to you, that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands."

13. Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist.

But they still didn't realize the full extent of what they saw, for they were not as yet fully transfigured themselves; and the insight to understand what they saw came with their own spiritual transformation, which occurred 50 days after Jesus' resurrection.

Listen to some of the thoughts of Julia Ward Howe, as she expressed them in the Battle Hymn of the Republic:

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never sound retreat,

He is sifting out the hearts of men before the Judgment seat;

O be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!...

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,

With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.

As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free.

And I will add, let us live to make the whole of creation free from the corruption to which it has been subjected.

Have we been swift to answer the Lordís call to us?

Have we allowed the Lord to make us holy?

Once we come to the judgment seat, it's too late to be transformed; it must occur now, before that day comes; and it is coming quickly.

And the only way anyone can be truly free is in the unconditional love of God, given to us through the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the kind of love that could never oppress other people, nor ever enslave anyone.

This is the kind of love that could never oppress or enslave any animal or harm the environment.

This is the kind of love that is becoming rarer and rarer in our society today; thus I believe we are coming closer and closer to the time of the Lord's return.

Listen to what we are told in Romans 12:2.

2. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

We are not to be like the world around us.

We are not to be like those who have no personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

We are to be changed into His image.

But for what purpose?

That we might prove to others and ourselves what the will of God is.

And through the love of God in us, we are to show the world around us what is good and acceptable and perfect.

We are to be God's witness before them.

Listen again to what Paul says, this time in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52:

51. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

52. in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

Unless we are transfigured, or changed, into the image of Christ, now, while we are alive, we will never be raised imperishable from the dead.

The hope of everlasting life in heaven is only through Jesus Christ our Lord.

As He says in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me."

The psalmist of old understood this transformation when he wrote Psalm 119. Let's look at verses 33-40.

33. Teach me, O Lord, the way of Thy statutes,

And I shall observe it to the end.

34. Give me understanding, that I may observe Thy law,

And keep it with all my heart.

The psalmist knew that, on his own, he couldn't completely understand the things of God; thus he sought the Lord to help him understand.

We need to do the same.

35. Make me walk in the path of Thy commandments,

For I delight in it.

The beginning of our transformation takes place when the love of God in-fills us, and we begin to love the Lord's commandments because we are fulfilling them.

But with the pressures of the world around us, we don't always live according to the will of God, even though we know the truth; thus, like the psalmist, we are to seek the Lord's help.

36. Incline my heart to Thy testimonies,

And not to dishonest gain.

37. Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,

And revive me in Thy ways.

38. Establish Thy word to Thy servant,

As that which produces reverence for Thee.

39. Turn away my reproach which I dread,

For Thine ordinances are good.

40. Behold, I long for Thy precepts;

Revive me through Thy righteousness.

I know that some of you are seeking these same things to a greater or lesser degree, but we all should be seeking this.

We should be changed just as dramatically as Jesus was changed upon that mountain.

Let's return to 1 Corinthians and read what Paul told them in 3:10-15.

10. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it.

In other words, we, individually, are responsible for what people learn from us.

If we have been given the truth, and fail to live the truth, we are responsible for the souls of others who follow our example.

11. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

12. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,

13. each manís work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work.

14. If any man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward.

15. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.

How will our life's work hold up?

Will it be burned up, or will it pass through the testing fires and come out gleaming as gold?

We have all heard the truth; thus, it should be as gold; but will it be?

The choice is ours.

And lastly, let's observe what Peter says in 2 Peter 1:16-21, for he was upon that mountain and he saw everything, but didnít fully understand, then; but following his own transformation...

16. For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

And neither have I these past eight years; but I have presented the word of God from our Bibles, just as Peter and the other disciples did.

17. For when He [Jesus] received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased"--

18. and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

19. And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

The great Morning Star, Jesus Christ, should have already risen in your heart and soul; but if He hasn't, then now is the time to ask Him to come into your life and transform you.

20. But know this first of all, that no prophecy or Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation,

21. for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

The Scriptures tell us the truth.

So, if you don't believe me, believe them; for in them is contained everlasting life.

Seek the Lord before it's too late.

Don't put any limits upon what you receive because other people live differently from what you know in your heart and mind is the proper way to live.

Be transformed into the transfigured image of Jesus Christ, that you, too, will glow in all the glory of His presence within you.

If we all do this, we can make a difference in the world around us to the glory of God.


Return to: Sermons Archive