Matthew 17:1-13 – Jesus: Worth All The Hype!

Posted: January 21, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 17:1-13 (Part 3)
The Transfiguration

Back before the internet exploded, it was difficult for potential college football stars to get noticed outside their region. If you were a really good football player, the big schools might hear of your through their network of boosters around the country. However, if you were not a superstar but just a good player, it was difficult for you to get a notice from anyone except maybe the schools in your state or region. However, now that has all changed. We are 20 years into this internet explosion and college football recruiting is right in the midst of it. High school kids who play football get so much press now it is unimaginable. If you are a potential superstar, you start getting press on these internet recruiting sites as early as the 9th grade. Think about it! 14 year olds becoming celebrities through the internet. Then flash forward to their senior years in high school and the press coverage is even higher and more intense. When these superstar high schoolers make their choice of what school they go to, it is like a presidential press conference right after a significant event has occurred. Everybody’s watching. These 17-18 year old boys are like celebrities almost. A lot of it is the hype machine. A lot of times, these hyped up athletes do not turn out to be program changers that everyone thinks they are. It is rare when one of these hyped up high schoolers actually turns out to be the game changers that they are hyped up to be. One case is certainly DeShaun Watson at Clemson. He was a super-hyped on the internet recruiting services. He was rated the number 1 dual-threat (running and passing) quarterback coming out of high school. I thought the same about him too at first. A lot of hype but will he deliver. Has he ever? His freshman year was cut short by injuries but when he was playing last year, he looked amazing. Then, this year he became the first major college football player to pass for 4,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a single season. At the national championship game, he showed out. He made the vaunted Alabama defense look totally average. DeShaun has lived up to his hype which is a rarity in these days of 24/7/365 media coverage of high school football recruits. It was nice to see somehow prove that the talk was warranted.

Why do I bring that up in regard to this passage? Well, let’s read Matthew 17:1-13 one more time:
17 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

10 The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”

11 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.

Notice here that Elijah and Moses are talking to Jesus. We do not know what they were talking about but we do know they were talking. The greatest prophet and the greatest leader of Israel are each talking to Jesus. This scene shows up two things that are important. First, that eternity is for real. Second, this scene shows us that Jesus truly is the Son of God.

The first thing that we notice here is that Elijah and Moses are alive and well just in a different state of being. This scene reminds us that death is not the end of our existence. All the hype about heaven is for real. This scene gives us validation that heaven is the real deal. All the talk about heaven in the Bible is validated right here. We can trust that when we die we are going to heaven and spend eternity with the likes of Moses, Elijah, Jesus and all who have gone before us as Christ followers. There is great comfort in this scene to me. If I had any doubts about the existence of continued existence in heaven, this scene removes those doubts. The Bible is trustworthy in everything that it says, for sure, but if you had any remote doubts about heaven being real, then this scene should put the nail in the coffin, so to speak, as to removing doubts. We see men who have long since been dead and we see them conversing with Jesus. The fact that there is intimate friendship through their talking, it shows us that Jesus, God in the flesh, knows these guys because he spends time with the daily in heaven. They are with God daily. It means they are in heaven. It means that the reward that we are promised at our salvation is real. We will know Jesus and spend time with Him daily just as the greats of the Bible do. How comforting is that?

The second and most important thing that I see here is that all the hype about Jesus is for real. Six days earlier, Peter went out on a limb and proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of the living God. That’s some pretty big hype. Well, this is one time that all the hype about a preacher is for real. Jesus is the real deal as the Messiah. He is the Son of God. He is God in the flesh. It is all validated right here. The hype about Jesus is justified. For the people who make Jesus just another of the long line of prophets sent by God, just a radical rabbi, just an anti-establishment revolutionary, just a great philosopher, just a self-help guru…what do you make of this scene? Well, you have to throw it away, don’t you? This scene does not square with the Jesus as just a prophet mentality. You have to ignore this scene as some delusion of the disciples. It must be fabricated, right? It is just a fiction that the church added later, right? Wrong. The disciples and followers of Jesus were around when the gospel of Matthew began circulating. They would have disputed anything that was not truth to them. If anything, these guys had integrity and died rather than roll over on Jesus. They would have balked at anything that was fabricated in the gospels. So, you have a choice in this passage. You can believe that Jesus is all that He says He is or you reject it. Many today have stripped down the Bible to eliminate all the parts that are incongruous with their lifestyles but that is not faith. That is justification. Faith leads us to accept the entire Bible even the parts that convict us of sin. Faith leads us to see Jesus in this scene as exactly what it is showing us. He is the Son of God. He is God in the Flesh. He is the Messiah. He is who He says He is. All the hype is for real. All the hype is validated.

Jesus, thank you for revealing to us this sight and validation of heaven in this passage. It gives us great comfort to know that one day we will be spending eternity there along with the great figures from the Bible and with you. Thank you also for giving us this glimpse that validates too that you are who you say you are. You are God in the flesh. You are everything that the Bible teaches us about you. Thank you for being God. Thank you for caring for us so much that you came to earth in the flesh to lead the perfect sinless life so that you could die on the cross for my sins. Thank you for being worth all the hype. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

Amen and Amen.

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