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Behold the Glory of Jesus

February 25 2024

Book: Luke

Audio Download

Scripture: Luke 9:28-43

Good morning, I’m excited to preach this text this morning, because Jesus and his disciples are about to head to Jerusalem. Which means Easter Sunday is one Sunday closer, which also means the Crawfish boil is one Sunday closer. So a lot of things to be excited about in the coming weeks. But a lot to be excited about today too, we’re looking at two stories today: the transfiguration of Jesus, and Jesus healing a demon-possessed boy. A lot going on.

But lets go ahead and look at the transfiguration.

I think a good question for us to ask is, what is happening here? What is actually going on in the resurrection. Maybe this is just me, but I’ve never really understood the transfiguration. If one of our youth kids came up to me and was like “Caleb, what is the transfiguration, and why is it in the bible?”. I would be like, you should probably go ask Mike that question, because I’m not sure. I know Jesus’ face was glowing, they were on a mountain, Old Testament figures there. I think it’s in the bible because it’s awesome. Which I think is still part of it.

But I wouldn’t be sure where to start, so I think that’s a good place for us to start today: What is happening in the transfiguration, and why is it happening.

Because this is a unique story in the gospel narrative. Nowhere else in the gospel do we see Jesus shining, Nowhere else do we see Moses and Elijah appear, or a cloud of God’s presence enveloping the disciples. So It’s a unique event, and it has deep significance, for us.
So what is the transfiguration. The first thing Luke tells us about it is that Jesus took Peter, John, and James up on the mountain to pray. We remember that last week, Jesus was praying alone, then Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ of God, but he didn’t really know what that meant.

The disciples and the rest of the Jews would have expected the promised savior of the Old Testament to come in and overthrow the Roman government, to bring in an earthly kingdom with his power. Instead, Jesus announces that he’s going to die, and he calls his disciples to follow him in this path. not what was expected of the messiah.

In our passage today, we again see Jesus praying, but this time instead of Peter identifying Jesus’ title God will fully reveal who Jesus is, in a way that the disciples hadn’t seen before. On the mountain, God pulls back the curtain and shows Jesus in his glory. His face is shining, all of his clothes are dazzling white Luke says.

In this same passage in Mark, Mark says that his clothes became intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. Which I thought was a funny way to describe it, “The best bleacher you know couldn’t get these clothes this white.”
The point here is that Jesus is radiant, shining bright with his glory, because this is the same glory that he shared with God the father from eternity past.

The disciples had only seen Jesus in his human appearance. They’ve seen him do miracles and they’ve heard his teaching, but Jesus still looked like a normal guy.

But here Jesus takes it to a completely new level. Jesus is showing them that he is God in the flesh. He didn’t give up his divinity when he took on human flesh. He’s still God.

It’s almost like Undercover Boss, if you’re familiar with that show. Each episode the ceo or owner of a huge company would disguise themselves as a normal worker in a warehouse or factory for a week. They would work with their employees, getting to know them and what their job was like. Then at the end, they would reveal themselves as the ceo or owner. That’s why you’re always nice to people at your job, you never know when you’re on undercover boss.

But this is way better than undercover boss. Instead of a CEO acting like an employee, the God of the universe actually becomes a human.
Jesus has experienced humanity, he’s been hungry, he’s been tempted, he’s just been living with the disciples. I can tell you from living with a bunch of guys over the past 5 years that its not always the most clean or pleasant experience. But Jesus has entered into it, the full human experience.

But Now Jesus is fully revealing himself as God to the disciples. He’s not just another guy, this is God himself. The glory that is shining through Jesus here isn’t an outside source of glory. It’s not like someone is shining a flashlight on him.
In Exodus 34, as Moses is coming down Mt. Sinai, his face is shining because he was in the presence of God. The glory didn’t belong to Moses, it was just reflected onto him because he was in the presence of God.

But when Jesus goes up on the mountain here, he’s shining because the glory belongs to him, he is God. He reveals his divine nature to the disciples here, giving them just a glimpse of his glory.

His glory isn’t just seen in his appearance, but is also revealed through Moses and Elijah being there. And it must have been confusing for Peter, John and James. They’re about to fall asleep, but they wake up and see Jesus, Moses and Elijah all radiating glory.

This would have been mind boggling for the disciples to see, specifically the fact that Moses and Elijah are also there with Jesus. They’re two of the greatest figures in the Old Testament, in their national history.

For Americans it would be like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln appeared out of nowhere, two of the most important figures in American history. In Israelite history, Moses was famous for leading them out of slavery in Egypt and through the wilderness towards the promised land. He also wrote the Torah, the first 5 books of the OT that the Jews lived by.

Then Elijah was probably the most well-known prophet of God, calling out evil in Israel and defeating the enemies of God. Here they both are with Jesus, sharing in his glory.

And this isn’t the first time they’ve been on a mountain in the presence of God. When Moses and Elijah lived on earth, both of them went up on mountains and heard the voice of God.

On Mt. Sinai, God spoke to Moses and gave him the law for the Israelites to follow. On Mt. Horeb, God spoke to Elijah and told him to anoint the next king of Israel.

Now they’re both back on a mountain, and notice what God says this time. “This is my Son, My Chosen One, listen to him!” God is raising Jesus up above the two greatest figures in Old Testament history.

Jesus isn’t just as servant of God as Moses and Elijah were, he’s the son of God. When Elijah was on the mountain, God told him to go appoint the new king of Israel, when Jesus is on the mountain, God says this is my chosen one! This is the king of my people!

When Moses was on the mountain, God gave him his word in the ten commandments to return to the people of Israel. When Jesus is on the Mountain, God says listen to him! He is my word.

When the cloud of God’s presence is lifted, Jesus is left alone, Moses and Elijah are gone.
God is proclaiming that Jesus, in all his glory, surpasses anything the people of God had seen before. He is everything that God has promised to provide for his people, they simply need to listen to him.

This may be a helpful reminder for us. That while Jesus took on the form of man, he is still fully God. He still speaks with the full authority of God himself. I know that I can get so caught up in the humanity of Jesus. the fact that Jesus understands me.

He knows my struggles, he knows my sin, he knows my fears. He’s a friend who can sympathize with you, be with you in those moments. And that is 100% true and beautiful, and we need that.

But we also need the other side, not only is he our friend, he’s our king. He doesn’t just understand our problems, he rules over them as the God of the universe. He has triumphed over our sin, and he calls us out of it as our king.

The fact that Jesus is God in the flesh makes it so much more amazing that he set aside his glory and took on the form of his subjects.
This is what the transfiguration is. Jesus is showing us the glory that belongs to him. The glory that he shared with the father from eternity past, the glory he has as the fulfillment of all God has promised to his people. This is our king that knows us.

The transfiguration is about where Jesus from, but it’s also about where he is going. Notice what Jesus is talking about with Moses and Elijah. It says that they spoke of his departure. The Greek word for departure here is exodos.

There are two things I think Luke wants to communicate with this word exodus. The first thing that comes to mind is the Old Testament Exodus that Moses led. Like I said earlier, the exodus in the Old Testament was when God freed the Israelites from their slavery, and they began their journey towards the promised land.

Exodus also means “death” here, literally to depart from life. What Luke is showing us is that Jesus’ death in Jerusalem will lead to a greater exodus for the people of God. God’s people won’t just be saved from a physical slavery, Jesus will liberate them from the oppression of sin by dying for them. This is what Jesus is going to accomplish in Jerusalem.

This is why Jesus has set aside his glory and came to earth in human form. He didn’t just come to live with humanity, he came to die for it. He set aside his glory, the eternal, perfect communion he had with the God the father. He set it aside to come and to die for us.
he saw our suffering and our sin, and out of love he came off of his throne and bore our suffering for us. He paid the punishment for our sin. That’s the good news.

But still haven’t answered the question of why. Why is Jesus showing the disciples his glory now? Well, what did Jesus just say to them in our previous passage? Take up your cross and follow me. Where is Jesus going? To his death. To his departure in Jerusalem.

The disciples have a hard road ahead of them. They’re going to see Jesus betrayed, they’re going to see him crucified. Peter James and John will all face a life of persecution.

What Jesus is showing them is that this suffering isn’t meaningless. They may follow Jesus in his suffering, but they will follow him into glory too. He’s showing them where they’re going. Jesus’ departure in Jerusalem doesn’t end with his death on the cross, it also his means that he will resurrect and return to glory with his Father in heaven.

So as the disciples follow Jesus in the suffering of this world, they know that the shining face of Jesus awaits them in heaven. That’s why Jesus shows them his glory, it’s for their hope.

And I think that’s why the transfiguration is in the bible for us too. It’s for our hope. It’s so we know that Jesus himself, in all of his glory awaits us with loving arms.

Think about the exodus, God didn’t free the Israelites so they could stay in the wilderness. God freed them so they could enter into the promised land.
This is the exodus that Jesus has brought us into. He’s freed us from our sin so that one day we can dwell with him in the full presence of God, beholding his glory face to face. The transfiguration is in here to give us hope.

But this also begs the question, what do we do until then?

I can kind of relate to Peter in this story. One because sometimes I also struggle to stay awake while praying, but also because of his reaction to seeing the glory of Jesus, Moses and Elijah. He wants to put some tents up and have them stay for a while. And I get it, I wouldn’t want this to end either.

You’re up there with Jesus in his glory, Moses and Elijah two famous figures from the Old Testament. Peter’s probably like, can’t we just enjoy this moment.

But Luke says that Peter didn’t know what he was saying, I feel that too sometimes. Peter didn’t understand that Jesus wasn’t going back into glory yet. He had still had a mission to accomplish in Jerusalem. And so they go down the mountain. We’ll finish with this story in verses 37-43.

I think Luke puts this story right after the transfiguration for a reason. In the transfiguration, we have a literal mountain top experience. Everything is amazing, they’re beholding the glory of Jesus.

Now, Peter, James and John are snapped back into the reality of a broken world. It’s kind of like when you’re a kid, and you go to summer camp for a week. It’s awesome, you’re not even thinking about the outside world you’re just having a great time. Then you come back home and you have to pull weeds out of your mom’s garden, and your brother is being annoying. Back in the real world.

But this story is worse than that. This boy is possessed by a demon that doubles him over with pain, makes him foam at the mouth, bruises his entire body. This is a clear picture of spiritual oppression.

And it’s a clear picture of the mission Jesus is on. He has come to liberate the captive. This is Jesus continuing in his mission to free the oppressed, one that he’ll accomplish when he reaches Jerusalem.

But the disciples are still a little behind. In Luke 9:1, Luke says that Jesus gave the disciples power and authority over all demons. But now the disciples were unable to cast the demon out. In Matthew’s gospel, he makes it pretty clear that the disciples weren’t able to cast the demon out because of their lack of faith.

And here I think is our answer to walking in this broken world, its faith. Because we have those mountain top experiences of our Christian life too. Maybe it’s your baptism, maybe a time when God delivered you from great suffering, or just a period when you felt really close to him, when you feel like he is near.

But then you come down from the mountain, and you face the reality of a broken world. You’re overwhelmed with family responsibilities, job frustrations, stress in your close relationships, anxiety about your future, personal suffering or the suffering of those you love. And you feel so alone during it.

But Jesus is saying I’m still here. He hasn’t gone anywhere. The Jesus that was on the mountain in all of his glory is the same Jesus that enters into the midst of your suffering in the valley.

And the way you get through the valley is by trusting in him. Trust that he has the power and the love to sustain you through anything that you’re going through right now. That he is still present with you, in the messiness of your life, defeating your sin.
Because the truth is, Jesus is still revealing his glory to us.

Listen to these last couple verses of the story, Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astonished at the Majesty of God.

This word for majesty means the glory of God. The same glory that Jesus had in the transfiguration. Not shining through his face but demonstrated in his actions. He shows his glory here by defeating the demon, healing the boy, and returning him to his father.

He shows us his glory by defeating our sin, making us whole again, and returning us to our father. Brings us into the family of God.

This is what strengthens our faith, through the Spirit. The way that we walk in faith is by beholding the glory of Christ as he reveals himself to us in the gospel. The more we behold him, in his glory, the more we become like him.

I’ll end with these words from Paul, coming from 2 Corinthians 3:18 “And we all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

Simply behold the glory of Jesus. Trust that he is your savior, Trust that he is your king. Rejoice that he is bringing you into glory with him.