THE MESSAGE OF THE TRANSFIGURATION Matthew 17:1-13
Sermon #43 Series: Matthew
Title: The Message of the Transfiguration
Text: Matthew 17:1-13 Readings: M.Henson & B.Poncer
Subject: The Father's Message Concerning His Son On The Mount
Date: Tuesday Evening, May 9, 1995
Tape # R-33
In Matthew 17, the Holy Spirit takes us up on the mount of transfiguration. He does not tell us which mountain it was, lest foolish men make it an idolatrous "holy place." But it was one of the high mountains around Jerusalem. There our Lord Jesus Christ was transfigured before Peter, James, and John. They saw his majesty and his excellent glory. The order in which this event is recorded is beautiful and full of instruction. It was six days after the events recorded in chapter 16.
· The warning about the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (v.16)
· The Lord's reproof of unbelief in his disciples (vv. 8-12)
· Peter's confession (vv. 13-20)
· Our Lord's instruction about his sufferings, death, and resurrection (v. 21)
· Peter's rebuke of Christ and the Lord's rebuke to Peter (vv. 22-23)
· The cost of discipleship (vv. 24-26)
· The second coming of Christ and the beginning of his glorious reign (vv. 27-28)
"And after six days" - The disciples thought on these things for six days. Then the Lord called Peter, James, and John to himself, and took them up on the mount. He had told them about his cross; now he would show them something of his reward. The hearts which had been saddened by those plain statements regarding his sufferings and death must be gladdened by the vision of his glory.
"Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart." Luke tells us that they came up into this high mountain "to pray." What a prayer meeting it was! Did you notice that Peter is still in the favored circle? Six days earlier he had greatly sinned in rebuking his Master. But Christ did not remember it. He did not bear the offence in mind. He freely forgave Peter's sin. He loved Peter still. How thankful we ought to be for such a Savior! He will not impute sin to his own.
v. 2 - The Lord Jesus was transfigured before them.
v. 3 - Moses and Elijah appeared talking with Christ about "his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem" (Lk. 9:31).
v. 4 - Peter butted in.
v. 5 - Moses and Elijah were covered in a cloud, and God the Father spoke. (Compare: Mark 1:11 - His Baptism; John 12:27-28 - His trouble.)
There is much in these verses which is shrouded in mystery; and we will leave it there. That which God has not revealed we are content not to know. We will not curiously pry into God's secrets. But there is much in these verses which is intended for our instruction and edification.
1. We have before us a striking demonstration of the glory in which Christ and his people will appear when he comes the second time.
The transfiguration was a revelation of our Lord's true dignity. Here the corner of the veil was lifted to show Peter, James, and John the glory which awaited Christ as the reward of his agony upon the cross (II Pet. 1:16; John 1:14).
It was also a picture of the glory which awaits every believer. J. C. Ryle said, "There is laid up for Jesus, and all that believe on Him, such glory as the heart of man never conceived." (See I John 3:1-2).
2. These verses also give us a clear, factual demonstration of life after death and of the resurrection of the body.
Moses had been dead and buried for 1500 years. Elijah "went up by a whirlwind into heaven" 900 years before this. Yet, here they stood on the mount talking to the Lord Jesus. Peter, James, and John saw them and heard them!
· There is Life after Death!
· There is a Resurrection Day Coming!
3. But primarily, this event is recorded to show us, by divine testimony, that the Lord Jesus Christ is infinitely superior to all who are born of women (vv. 4-5).
Peter, bewildered by the heavenly vision, suggested that three tabernacles ought to be built; one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Christ. He seems to have placed the lawgiver and the prophet side by side with Christ, as though they were equal to him. Immediately, Moses and Elijah were engulfed in a cloud, and a voice came forth from the cloud saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him."
That voice was meant to teach Peter that Jesus Christ alone is the Son of God, the Savior of men, and the One in whom and by whom God is well-pleased.
As the rising of the sun eclipses every star and causes them to fade away, even so the rising of Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, in the earth eclipses all who ever came before him.
Once Christ has come, Moses, the law, has nothing more to say. He met the law's demands.
Once Christ has come, Elijah, the prophets, are no longer to be pried into as mysterious secrets. He fulfilled all the prophets.
DIVISIONS: Tonight, I want to talk to you about THE MESSAGE OF THE TRANSFIGURATION. It is found in verse 5. So we will concentrate on that verse.
1. "This Is My Beloved Son."
2. "In Whom I Am Well-Pleased."
3. "Hear Ye Him."
I. "This Is My Beloved Son."
With these words, God the Father publicly owns and identifies himself with Jesus, the Son of Mary, as his own dearly beloved Son. The babe of Bethlehem, the man of Nazareth, the suffering One of Calvary is himself "God over all and blessed forever."
A. Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God (John 3:16).
B. Christ is the eternally begotten Son of God (Prov. 8:22-23).
C. Christ is the Son co-equal with His Father (John 5:18; 10:33).
Christ is co-essential with the Father, so essentially one with the Father that without Christ there would be no God (John 1:1-3).
1. We who believe are the sons of God by adoption and grace; but Christ is the Son of God by nature and essence. He is the Son as none others are.
2. This voice from heaven announces the fulfilment of the prophecies which foretold the coming of One who would be both God and man in one Person (Isa. 7:14; 9:6; Micah 5:2; Zech. 13:7).
D. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Beloved Son of God.
1. God the Father loves the Son as the Son.
2. Particularly, this is spoken to show us that the Father loves and delights in the Son because of his obedience as the Mediator and Substitute for sinners (Prov. 8:30; John 3:35; 10:17).
The Lord Jesus Christ is the embodiment, revelation, and medium of Divine love. God loves sinners in Christ and because of Christ (John 17:23-24; Rom. 5:8; I John 3:16; 4:8-10).
This is the first, essential thing to be learned: Jesus Christ our Savior is himself God, the eternal Son, well-beloved by his Father. It is his Godhead that gives merit and efficacy to all that he does. He who is God is an all-sufficient, effectual Substitute for sinners.
· His Righteous Life As Our Representative.
· His Sin-Atoning Death As Our Substitute.
· His Heavenly Intercession As Our Priest.
· His Providential Rule As Our King.
II. "This is my beloved Son In Whom I Am Well-Pleased."
God the Father speaks from heaven to Peter, James, and John, and by them to us, declaring that he is well pleased with his dear Son, and only with his Son.
· Moses was there, but God was not pleased with him
· Elijah was there, but God was not pleased with him.
· Peter was there, but God was not pleased with him.
· James was there, but God was not pleased with him.
· John was there, but God was not pleased with him.
God never has been and never can be pleased with any sinful man. But God always has been and always must be well-pleased with his dear Son, the God-man.
It goes without saying that God the Father is essentially well-pleased with his Son as his Son. But here we are told that God the Father is well-pleased with his Son as the God-man Mediator.
A. God was well pleased with his Son eternally, as our Surety and Mediatoral Representative in the covenant of grace (Isa. 42:21).
B. God is well pleased, honored by, and delighted in, the Representative Life Of His Son, by which he brought in everlasting righteousness for us (Matt. 3:13-17).
C. God is well pleased with the Substitutionary, Sin Atoning Death of his Son, by which He both satisfied Divine justice and put away the sins of his people (Isa. 53:10; Psa. 85:9-11).
D. God is well pleased with the heavenly Intercession of His Son as our Great High Priest (I John 2:1-2).
E. God is well pleased with the Providential Rule of His Son as the Sovereign King of the universe (Isa. 42:1-4).
As our Savior said of his earthly life, he says of his heavenly rule, "I do always those things that please him" (John 8:29).
F. God shall be well pleased with the Results of His Son's Covenant Engagements and Mediatoral Rule (I Cor. 15:24-28).
Christ, as the Mediator, as the God-man, shall present his kingdom to the eternal Father, that God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit may be forever glorified (Rev. 19:1-7).
G. And, be sure you get this, God is well pleased with Every Sinner Who trusts His Son.
The holy, righteous, just, and true God, Lord of Heaven and Earth, is honored by, delights in, and well-pleased with us in his Son!
In our natural condition we are all displeasing to God. This is our miserable condition by nature. A sinner, as a sinner, can do nothing acceptable to God. God must be appeased for us before he can be pleased with us. Yet, as soon as a sinner trusts the Lord Jesus Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King, God is well pleased with him for Christ's sake, because he is in Christ.
1. God is well pleased with us in Christ eternally (Eph. 1:6).
2. God is well pleased with all that we offer to him and do for him in Christ (I Pet. 2:5).
3. God is always, immutably well pleased with us in Christ (Jer. 23:6; 33:16).
The first thing to be learned is this - Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The second thing that must be learned is this - God is well pleased with Christ, only with Christ.
NOTE: If God is pleased with his Son, surely you and I should be pleased with him too.
· His Person
· His Propitiation
· His Providence
· His Purpose
III. "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; Hear ye him."
With these words, God the Father informs us that Christ alone is the great Prophet and Teacher in his kingdom. No voice is to be heard in the church and kingdom of God, but the voice of Christ.
A. Hear His Doctrine (John 12:32).
B. Hear His Invitations (Matt. 11:28-30).
C. Hear His Promises (John 14:1).
· "Neither Do I Condemn Thee."
· "Thy Sins Are Forgiven."
· "I Am With You Alway."
· "I Will Come Again."
D. Hear His Commands.
· Baptism -"He that believeth and his baptized shall be saved."
· "This Do In Remembrance Of Me."
· "Love One Another."
· "This Is My Beloved Son."
· "In Whom I Am Well Pleased."
· "Hear Ye Him."
That is the message of the transfiguration.
IV. IN VERSES 6-8, MATTHEW GIVES US A BEAUTIFUL PICTURE OF THE EXPERIENCE OF GRACE.
I am certain that I am not stretching the text when I tell you that the things described in these three verse is a beautiful, spiritual picture of what happens when the Lord Jesus comes to sinners in his saving power and performs his saving operations of grace. Let me briefly show you four things in these verses.
A. Regenerating Power - "Jesus came and touched them!"
B. The Effectual Call - "Arise!"
C. A Word of Assurance - "Be not afraid!"
D. The Singular Object of Faith-"They saw no man, save Jesus only!"
(I Cor. 1:30)
V. IN VERSES 10-13, OUR LORD EXPLAINS THE MINISTRY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.
Malachi prophesied that prior to the Messiah's coming, Elijah would come again to prepare the way for him (Mal. 4:5-6). Here, our Lord states plainly that Malachi was talking about John the Baptist. Indeed, like Elijah and John the Baptist, all true Gospel preachers are sent of God as forerunners to prepare the way of the Lord by declaring to men the gospel of God's free, sovereign, saving grace in Christ.
· Isaiah 52:7
· Romans 10:13-17
1. God is well pleased with Christ alone.
2. The only Object of faith is Christ.
3. All true gospel preachers prepare the way for and point sinners to the Lord Jesus Christ.