Matthew 17:1-13 – Listen to This Guy: Jesus is The Real Deal!

Posted: January 24, 2016 in 40-Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 17:1-13 (Part 5)
The Transfiguration

These are difficult times in which we live. The world seems to be self-destructing before our very eyes and no one seems to care. On the world stage, there seems to be ever growing threats of an Islamic terror war on a global scale. The drug mobs in Mexico are killing people by the thousands in Mexico as they war over global drug profits and it does not make the American news. Hunger and poverty are global problems. Christians are imprisoned and/or killed daily on a global scale. Our President seems hell-bent on using executive orders to subvert the constitutional controls on his office. America has become a place of decadence where the moral landscape no longer has its boundaries. In the name of personal freedom, we have done away with the biblically based moral sense of our forefathers. We seem to care less about the global threats to our way of life as long as we are entertained and as long as we have our drugs and alcohol to numb our minds. The freedom to be a Christian in our society is slowly being curtailed like the frog in the pot of hot water. It is a tough time to be a Christian in this country. We are looked at with derision by the mainstream public and particularly the media. We are old school. Our ways are no longer meaningful to our society. We are on a slippery slope where one day we will find our freedom to worship Christ to be on par with that of China, North Korea and the Islamic nations. And, of course, being a Christian in those countries is social and physical death sentence. Boy, do we need reassurance in this day and age. We find our reassurance in God’s Word. It reminds us that we have a source of strength that will carry us through these dark times in which we live. We must listen to His Word to give us strength.

The same thing is true for the disciples in this scene. They lived in troubled times. Being a Christ follower was a pretty radical thing. It set them on a collision course with the entire world that they knew. There was trouble brewing with the religious elite establishment of Judaism who saw Jesus as a threat to their authority. Jesus did not care that they held human power over Jewish society. He did not care that their hold on power was a tenuous dance with the Roman occupation forces. He cared about people souls and the fact they were being led astray by this false web of rules and regulations that the religious elite had established to keep people from coming near to violating God’s law. He wanted people to see that the law was to point them to their need for and dependence on the grace and love of God. Jesus’ teaching was beginning to bring about such conflict with the religious leaders that it was to bring about His death. Things would not get easier for the disciples from this point forward. From here to Jerusalem to the cross to their missionary journeys afterwards to their own martyr’s deaths, things would only get tougher from the time they came down from the mountain. Let’s find out as we read again the passage together:

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.

Once again, we hear the voice of God the Father speak audibly about the Son, Jesus. He says the same thing that He said at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” Then, He adds, “Listen to Him.” Why is this important? Why is it important for us to hear audibly from God the Father at this point? Why is it important for Him to say the same thing that He said at Jesus’ baptism? And finally, why is it important that God says, “Listen to Him?” The things that I take away from hearing the audible voice of God here are several. First, we have reassurance that following Jesus is the way, the truth and the life no matter what the world tells us. Finally, we have to listen to Jesus because He assures us that no matter how bad things get He is with us to the end of the age.

God has made it clear here that Jesus is His Son and with Him, the Father is well pleased. In Jesus, we have God in the flesh. We have part of the Holy Trinity of God in our midst functioning here as the dutiful Son of the Father. He came to earth to show us that He is the way, the truth, and the life. He shows us that no one comes to the Father except through Him. This is kind of like those situations when you were a kid and you tell this story of a great adventure that you had with your family and your friends don’t believe you and they make fun of you. Then, your dad comes in the room and you know the other kids really respect your dad and then he says that everything you just said was true. Your dad validates your story and quiets the doubts of your unbelieving friends. That is what I see here in this scene too, sort of. The Father validates what Jesus has been saying. Jesus wasn’t just saying things to get people stirred up or to bring down the established religious order. He was here on earth to carry out the will of the Father in heaven. He was here to show us the one and only way to the Father. He was here to introduce God’s kingdom. He was not just some new and radical rabbi prophet. He was not just a good moral teacher. He says the same thing that He said at Jesus’ baptism. He reassures. His second audible testament of Jesus’ identity gives us assurance that Jesus is who He says He is. Jesus has the authority of the Father. Jesus and the Father are one and the same. They are of the same essence. Validation. Reassurance. After having witnessed this, Peter and the rest must’ve drawn on this experience as they were going through the trials and tribulations of building Christ’s church on earth after the ascension. They had many proofs and validations of Christ’s heavenly origin and this is one of them. They had heard the very voice of God in an audible way. How I would long to have been present there with them and really here the voice of God as outside auditory input to my brain and not just that inner voice. Maybe I will one day if I am ever so close to the front lines of changing the world for Christ as Peter and the guys were about to be. For now, I have God’s Word to reassure me of Jesus’ identity. I have the inner voice of God in me that guides me to have full confidence in what I have been taught in God’s Word and to guide and prod and correct and move me to be more like Christ each day. There will come a day, maybe even in my own lifetime, that being a Christ follower is going to cost me something great – my job, my lifestyle, my life. That day is coming maybe even in our own generations that are living right now. Maybe one day God will lead me to spreading the message of Christ where to do so will put me in harm’s way. I must then reach back to the Mount of Transfiguration and hear in my mind the audible voice of God and find reassurance that God is in control. No matter what happens on this earth, I have assurance that God will deliver me to my eternal reward that is far greater than any pain or suffering that I endure on this earth.

Then, God says, “Listen to Him.” Not only is Jesus’ claim of deity validated by the audible voice of God, but the Father says, “Listen to Him.” This is the one that we should listen to. Take what Jesus says and understand it. You are on the right track when you understand that Jesus is the Son of God and that what He says has the full authority of the Godhead. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the real deal. Everything else is just humanism. In Jesus, we have God in the flesh. In Jesus, we have that one and only way to heaven to be with the Father. Listen to Him. Not listen to Him as one of many options I have given you. Listen to Him. As in He is the only one to listen to. Jesus is God. Thus, everything else is only an attempt at what Jesus is. Jesus is the real deal. Jesus is what we need. No more and no less. Jesus is not one of many options. He is the only option. Listen to Him. Listen. To. Him. Three simple words that are hard to grasp. We want things our own way. We want to equalize Jesus with other ways so that we can pick and choose and there is no hard line on anything. There are no consequences. We can make it about self-actualization and becoming one with the fabric of the universe and reaching some Zen state of being. But God says listen to Jesus. He is my Son. None of this other stuff is real. Listen to Jesus. He has my authority and only He does. This fact that God says listen to Jesus tells me that He is what He says He is and that fact gives me great assurance. Jesus is the way, not one of the ways. Jesus is the truth, not just a version of the truth. Jesus is the life, not just one of the ways we can self-actualize ourselves. Jesus is God in the flesh. He is the one I need to listen to and I try my best to do just that. He will grab me up one day from this world and carry me home to my Father in heaven because I believe in who He says He is. I believe that He is my Savior who redeems me from my sins. And I believe He is the only one who can do that. No one else. Nada. Nothing. No one. Listen to Him. For He is my Son and in whom I am well pleaded. Jesus Christ the one, the only. My reassurance.
Amen and Amen.

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