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Jesus Christ Supernova

Matthew 17:1-8



A supernova is the brightest spectacle in the universe.  It is a glorious, powerful occurrence.  A star which goes supernova outshines its entire galaxy for eons of time.  It’s the closest thing I can wrap my head around to imagine Jesus in all of His glorious, powerful, infinite brightness.


Luke clarifies that it was afternoon when Jesus led His inner circle up the mountain to pray.  It was a long, steep climb, and when they reached the summit Jesus led them in prayer, and somewhere in there these guys went to sleep.  If the disciples were good at anything it was sleeping when important things were going on.  I take comfort in this, that if Peter, James and John could go to sleep when Jesus is talking, perhaps I shouldn’t be offended when some go to sleep on me!  Doc assured me he only closes his eyes when he’s meditating passionately about something spiritual...but that doesn’t explain why his mouth drops open!


But something woke their attention...Jesus underwent an incredible metamorphosis right before their very eyes.  It is a snapshot preview of the coming kingdom of Christ upon the earth.  One of these days Jesus is going to return and establish His earthly kingdom and rule and reign for 1,000 years.  Last time in chapter 16 Jesus told them about the cross.  [His cross and their cross which they must bear.]  Now in chapter 17 He’s being glorified before them.  He wants us all to know that there always must be a cross before there can be a crown.  The pathway to glory is paved with suffering.


First let’s look at the MEN on the mountain:

Peter, James and John are 3 of the first disciples to follow Jesus.  They had been in the fishing business together before, and now they form the inner circle.  It was these 3 who earlier were taken into the home of Jairus and watched Jesus raise the man’s daughter from the dead.  Then there’s this day we now study, and later in the Garden of Gethsemane, just before going to the cross, they will be there in that garden with Him.


On this day they are going to gain courage for their own cross.  James will be the first disciple to die for Christ [Acts 12].  John will be the last.  And he will go thru severe persecution before he dies.  Peter will later experience many occasions of suffering and will wind up being crucified upside down, by his own request.  All 3 of these guys learned from Jesus that it’s first the suffering, then the glory...first the cross, then the crown.


Each of them needed confidence in the Scriptures.  And they found it on this mountain this day, for who is it that shows up with Jesus?  Moses and Elijah.  Moses represents the law, and Elijah the prophets.  Moses stands for those who die in Christ, and Elijah symbolizes those who are translated, or raptured away.


I love the appearance of Moses and Elijah, for it reminds us of the very real truth that there is life after this life.  Each of us are eternal souls that will live somewhere forever, or else die forever somewhere else.  Some in our own church have died this year.  Do we really believe they are alive today in heaven?  You’d better believe it.  They are more alive today than they ever have been.  If you are living your life as though what you see now is all there is, you need to get a hold of this truth today.  You will spend a very conscious, physical existence somewhere for all of eternity!


This also helps confirm the answer to the oft asked question, “Will we know one another in heaven?”  You got it partner.  Peter awoke from his sleep, and with no introductions knew they were Moses and Elijah.  How did he know?  He just did!  And when I get to heaven I’m going to know people I used to know, and those I never did know.


The Bible says these 3, Jesus, Moses and Elijah were talking together.  What about?  About His upcoming sacrifice as the Lamb of God for all the ages, past, present and future! 


I can just hear Moses saying, “Lord, you’re the only One Who has ever done it, but you fulfilled the moral law here on earth in perfection, never sinning...go on to the cross, and fulfill the ceremonial law on the cross, for every sacrifice of every spotless lamb from my days all pointed to you.  I’m in heaven on credit Lord, and I’m trusting you now to pay in full my sin debt as you fulfill the moral law.”


I can just hear Elijah saying, “Lord, you are the fulfillment of all the prophecies...

Malachi said You’d be born in Bethlehem and You were.

Isaiah said You’d be born of a virgin, and You were.

Jacob said You’d come from the tribe of Judah, and You did.

The psalmist said You’d come speaking in parables, and You have.

Isaiah said You’d be rejected by Your own people, and You have been.

You are the culmination of all the prophets, Lord.

You are about to fulfill Zechariah 11:2, and be sold for 30 pieces of silver.

You are about to fulfill Isaiah 53:7 and stand silent before Your accusers.

You’re the One Who will fulfill Psalm 22:16 when they pierce Your hands and feet.

You are my prophet, my priest, and my King!”


The disciples needed confidence in the Word of God, the law and the prophets, and each of them would later pen much of the New Testament themselves.  Peter got the message and said in...

2 Peter 1:16-18
16 we...were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

But look at the very next verse...

2 Peter 1:19
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

That day star is the bright and morning star, a supernova of spiritual proportions, the Lord Jesus Christ!


And the most wonderful thing that can happen to us as Christians is not for us to have some mountaintop experience with bright lights, but just to hear and study and know the Word of God!


So, this experience gave them courage for their cross, and confidence in the Scriptures...


Also, it gave them commitment to the Son of God.

        Are you awestruck with Who Jesus truly is?  Can you take in His glory and His majesty?  We’ve seen the men on the mountain, and can learn plenty just from them, but the crux of this passage is not these men, but the Master on the mountain!


v. 2          “Transfigured” is one of the most interesting words in the Bible.  The Greek word here translates into our word metamorphosis.  It is literally a change on the outside that comes from the inside.


Ill.—take a woolly caterpillar / he will wrap himself inside a cocoon / some great changes happen while inside that cocoon / then it unfolds revealing a beautiful butterfly.

        And all of a sudden all that Jesus truly was on the inside, hidden in a cocoon of human flesh was revealed outwardly.  Jesus Christ has always been God, even when He walked this earth, but His glory was veiled until this day.  On this mountain His glory was not reflected from above, but radiated from within.

John 17:5
And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

And when He returns someday, it will be in His glorified presence.

Revelation 21:23
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.


Some think the transfiguration was for the purpose of showing Jesus’ deity.  I disagree.  He had done nothing but show His deity in so many ways.  This story is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but not in John.  John passes over it.  Why?  What was the purpose of the Gospel of John?  To show Jesus’ deity.  [John 1:1]  I believe this really was the proclamation of His pure humanity.  What do I mean?


Ill.—the way you test an expensive crystal is by putting heat to it.  The flame will find any flaw or imperfection, and will crack that crystal. 

        If there had been one blemish in Christ the glory this day would have ruptured the man Jesus and all He teached and preached would have shattered into a million pieces.  And if any fault had been found in Him, He could not have died for our sins, he would have had to die for His own sins, just like we deserve!


Friend, God wants to do the same thing with your life...He wants to change you on the inside in a way that will radiate to the outside.

Romans 12:2
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed [same word] by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Christian, there ought to be a glow about your life...a radiance of the beauty of Jesus inside.  Matthew 5 says we are to be like bright lights shining on a hillside. 


Spirituality cannot be forced from the outside in with rules and regulations.  I’m all for standards, but they must be real and come from the inside out!

2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Translation:  The child of God looks into the Word of God, sees the glorious Son of God, and then we are transformed by the Spirit of God to radiate the glory of God.


Hearing the Word is good, but not enough.  Reading the Word is recommended, but still not enough.  It is only when we OBEY the Word that we are changed.


I want you to know that these 3 disciples never forgot this experience.  They carried it with them the rest of their lives.

2 Peter 1:16
16 we...were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

John said in John 1:14
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

James said in James 2:1 He is the Lord of glory!


What a privilege to see Him in all of His glory today.  And to think that we will one day be like that ourselves.

1 John 3:2
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Of course we won’t be gods ourselves, but just as he created us in His image, He glorifies us in the same way.  If you’ve been saved then you have been justified.  And ideally, you are being sanctified.  How marvelous that one day we will also be glorified!

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