The Greatness and Glory of Jesus – Luke 9:28-36
Pastor Doug Klein
What is the greatest miracle that Jesus every performed? What a list we could begin to compile together and each of us would have some of our own favorites at the top of the list. I believe that his miraculous changing of the water into wine at the wedding at Cana in Galilee showed his divine nature as both Creator and Redeemer in a marvelous way. I also believe that the healing of the demoniac in the land of the Garasenes showed his power over evil in an extraordinary way. But the most profound and powerful of his miracles is the Transfiguration. The Apostles would constantly refer to this experience throughout their lives; “we were eyewitnesses of His glory.” His true glory which we will witness one day was revealed on the mountain that day.
The first principle is 1.) Be still and wait for the lightning to do its work. Luke 9:28-33a.
This is a very unique incident that is cloaked in the Old Testament narrative of the Ten Commandments. As a matter of fact, in many ways, it is a New Testament fulfillment and rendering of the Ten Commandments in a dramatic way. Jesus became radiant in his heavenly form for a short time and showed his glory. Now, there are many ways that the glory of Christ is unveiled in this world. They are imperfect expressions of his glory. The burning bush is a perfect example. It was a theophanic revelation of glory in a mundane form: a bush. Even thunder and lightning are an incomplete expression of his glory.
What happened on the mountain here is absolutely unique and unprecedented. In contrast to Moses on Mt. Sinai, the glory of Jesus here is not a reflected glory where the light of God’s glory was reflected in the face of Moses. The further Moses descended from the top of the mountain, the less intense was his reflected glory. With Jesus the glory was not coming from outside of him but rather an expression of his deity which emanated from within. Let’s be clear about something here: Jesus did not take on glory on the mountain at a moment in time. He is glorious as a member of the trinity. When he came to earth to live among us, he put his full glory aside for a time. But here, in this moment, his glory was no longer veiled. It was clearly on display for Peter, James and John to witness.
Luke gives an account of a conversation taking place between Moses and Elijah concerning what was about to happen in Jerusalem. They were talking about his “departure.” The word actually means exodus and gives us a picture of how the cross fulfilled the ultimate need of salvation and deliverance in our lives. Jesus is the true and ultimate Moses who leads us from our ultimate bondage.
So what do we mean by letting the lightning do its work? God lives in perfect light and reveals himself in light as opposed to darkness. The light of Christ’s glory which often was expressed through lightning awakened the disciples from their spiritual and physical slumber. They came alive to the glory of Christ. The same thing happens to us when we worship. We might have given mental assent to Jesus before this encounter. But now, he becomes real to us. We move from a dreamlike state to the reality of the living Jesus.
We become still in the presence of Jesus and begin to worship him. The light of Christ awakens to the reality of Jesus. We shift our obsessions from our own concerns and put our real weight upon Jesus. His glory in us and to us means that he carries way more weight than our burdens.
The second principle is 2.) Listen and worship until you grasp his greatness. Luke 9:33b-35.
Have you ever known people who have to say something no matter what? Even in an incredibly sensitive moment of profound holiness, they just have to say something. That’s exactly what Peter does here as he experiences the most profound moment of his relationship with Jesus. He wants to contain and control the situation like most religious people. Let’s bring it down to our level. He utters the great understatement of a lifetime. “It’s good for us to be here.” And then he adds another highly religious touch: “let’s build three tents, one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Let’s make this a great religious memorial for these three great religious leaders. Luke adds, tongue in cheek, Peter “didn’t know what he said.”
But while Peter is speaking, something very significant happens. The glorious Shekinah cloud begins to slowly descend upon Jesus just like the Shekinah descended upon the Israelites in the Old Testament in the wilderness. But this time, instead of the voice being ominous and threatening, it was a proclamation from the Father of the glory of His Son and a call to listen to Him. The disciples were immediately afraid because they associated it with the Old Testament stories involving warnings of being consumed by the holiness of God. They were afraid and thought they might die.
They were about to experience a critical teaching point concerning who Jesus is. Instead of talking incessantly, they needed to listen and worship and begin to grasp his greatness and glory. The road ahead for both Jesus and the disciples was going to be filled with uncertainty and darkness. The glory of Christ would sustain them for the road ahead. The same holds true in our life.
The third principle is 3.) Experience the touch that doesn’t consume. Luke 9:36.
After the cloud descended and the voice from heaven proclaimed the glory of Christ, something extraordinarily different happened. Instead of the thunder and the lightning that normally accompanied the presence of God on the mountain, there was a stillness and quiet reverence that typifies the New Testament. It was only Jesus all by himself. There was no need to keep a safe distance and protect themselves. They could experience the touch of God that wouldn’t consume them. The touch of Jesus upon our lives is the most powerful thing we can ever experience. When the woman with the flow of blood touched the garment of Jesus in the New Testament, Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” He knew the power had gone out of him.
So we are all alone in the presence of a Holy Christ who loves us. Let’s allow him to touch us at every level of our lives. We no longer have to keep our distance or wallow in our fears. We need his touch more than anything in the world. And instead of consuming us on the mountain, he touches us with love and grace and sets us free. He heals and transforms us. And he’s always there to do it again and again.
Remember the words to this beautiful song:
“He touched me, oh he touched me.”
And oh the joy that floods my soul!
Something happened and now I know
He touched me and made me whole
Faith Presbyterian Church
October 23, 2016