Faith of Jesus Daily Devotional - Day 69
Matthew:17:1-13 The Transfiguration
Previous Context: devotion:Matthew:16:21-28 Jesus Predicts His Death
What is God doing?
"And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart"
It has six days since the disciples had been told Jesus must suffer and die, to think anything other is think along the lines of Satan. They were told that they would need to deny their own selves and pick up the Cross of Christ and follow. One might think that this is all crazy talk, the guy has a thing about dying. Well in case that is what be thought still after six days, here comes the sight of Christ in His glory attended to by Moses and Elijah and the voice of the Father above saying "hear Him".
"And his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light."
I imagine that having briefly seen Christ Jesus as He is in all eternity past and future it would be hard to see Him as anything other. If it is your worry for sorrow of what your friend might suffer, so too should it be your comfort of who He is and why it is He has been sent to suffer it.
"Behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him".
The Law and the Prophets attest to Jesus being the Christ. His identity is firmly established by them. It is not because of what they are that He is who HE is, it is because of who He is that they are what they are. He was first presented in His glory and then they came into sight. And when there came the voice from the cloud only He then remained.
"Behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him".
Imagine had the voice said "gentleman... I am concerned about my son... all this crazy talk about dying... could you please try to get Him to listen to you?... He won't listen to me nor Moses... I'll make sure that there is something in it for the three of you". No instead the voice says to listen to Him and to underline it with due emphasis Jesus is transfigured and met by Moses and Elijah attending to Him.
What is man doing?
"Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias"
Here is one possible way for the disciples to corrupt the understanding of this event: three religious icons/three equal standings. You know that man is going to find a way to make something other out of this (many ways). Think of Moses and one typically thinks of the Law, but he was also a prophet in that he prophesied the rising of a prophet like unto himself kjv@Deuteronomy:18:15-19 over Israel, to Him listen, that the law of Moses would require it of them. Elijah was known for the slaying of all the prophets of Baal and also for being taken on a chariot (not death) into heaven. kjv@Malachi:4:5 would be a well known prophesy concerning Elijah's return just before the great and dreadful day of the LORD. Neither men are ever declared themselves to be Lords and both place themselves as servants of one greater than themselves. Because of their historical significance and legendary uniqueness however, that along with Jesus being the relative new comer, it would be easy to reverse or equalize the roles and importance to which they represent.
"When the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid"
There should be no doubt whose voice the voice from the cloud is by their reaction to it. No other person has the Father so confirmed as being "beloved Son". There should be no doubt now who the most important of the three is both by manifested glory and by vocal confirmation. It is interesting how we can immediately and without hesitation discern the voice of the Father from the cloud, even discern the identities of previous religious ancestors, but not so easily the words of the Father from Jesus' lips. As amazing as the glory that shown from Jesus was, it did not send the men to their faces. As soon as the voice was heard however, recognition and fear were instantaneous.
"I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed".
It is common of most all the prophets of God, few if any were ever treated with due respect, many were treated horribly. Carrying the word of God made them to be targets of sinful men and an ungrateful sheepish nation. Other prophets of other gods had long been cherished and lavished upon. These are the types of prophets that people are most drawn to and there are many of them. They pronounce doctrines that tickle the ears, predict peace where there is no peace, freedom from the burden of the law where there is no Christ, promote idols that display wealth/strength/protection from enemies and other gods/sexual liberty/fertility/bountiful harvest/etc... That is what a proper god is to people and that is what a proper prophet should be evangelizing. John the Baptist, said by Jesus to be the greatest prophet born of woman, was beheaded; his head served as a reward to Herod's step daughter dancing in a most erotic way for him and his guests.
What does this passage tell us about the about the commands and faith of Jesus that saints are to keep/guard?
"Arise, and be not afraid"
The voice of God commands due reverence and respect. Even more important than the awesome tone and timber of that voice is the words formed by that voice and their meanings to us and the road ahead. That voice is sent forth more than just one form. It is for us to realize that whether spoken or written or recounted, they are the same words, the same immediate connection from the same God that should send us to the ground as if dead if not for the similar calming touch and whisper from Jesus. These words said "this is my beloved son" and "hear Him". Jesus says then "arise and be not afraid". So should we do!
"Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead"
The revelation of who Jesus has been seen and been confirmed to be should not be spoken of without there first being the essential context of His death and resurrection and ascension back to the Father's throne. The speaker should both know and be transformed by it and so should the listener be made aware of it before any ultimate declaration. It is not just any Jesus that we worship and give our lives over to. A Jesus outside of this context is a Jesus like a hundred even a thousand others that people readily bow themselves to. These many Jesus's are like the idols of old only now with the good name of Jesus attached. The prophets of these many Jesus's are like the many prophets of old that gave the people a god or gods more like what they wanted. Only one Jesus is this "beloved" Jesus, that is the Jesus whom died and rose and was ascended, that is the Jesus we must deny ourselves to and pick up His cross and follow.
Next: devotion:Matthew:17:14-23 The Healing of a Boy With a Demon