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Sunday, June 11, 2017

posted Jun 12, 2017, 6:58 AM by Site Administrator

LISTEN TO HIM!

 

Luke 9:28-36

Key Verse 9:35

 

A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”

 

First, “Transfiguration of Jesus” (28-31). “About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James and went up onto a mountain to pray.” These words, “about eight days after Jesus said this” refer back to the last passage where Jesus, for the first time, told his disciples about his suffering, death and resurrection, and also about how the disciples must follow him. As the Christ who would save all mankind from their sins, Jesus had to die on the cross to pay the price of sins mankind owed. Sin is not free; it is a very expensive commodity. After committing sin, people pay its high price: their own family broken, there life being devastated; their honor and dignity as human beings gone; they become sorrowful and miserable; as they have paid the high price of their sins in this way, they become really poor in their life – no happiness, no joy, but sorrows, pains, no dignity, no honor as humans – really miserable. But still, sin demands them for more price; sin is not fully satisfied with whatever price they paid; it is not satisfied until people pay it with their own life, death – that’s the ultimate price of their sins. Jesus paid this price of sin through his death on the cross – the death of the One and Only Son of God for the sin of all mankind. The price of sin is paid in full through Jesus’ death on the cross. In Jesus, sin has no right to demand its’ price any longer. In Jesus, we are set free from the curse of sin. Jesus is our Savior who saves us from our sins.

 

       Luke’s gospel does not talk about what happened when Jesus told his disciples about his suffering, death, and resurrection. But Matthew’s gospel gives us a detailed description of that incident. Simon Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked him, saying, “Never, Lord! This will never happen to you.” He was full of emotion. He would never let such terrible things happen to Jesus. At this, Jesus turned around and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Mt. 16:16-23) Then, Jesus gave them a clear direction of how they could follow him, saying, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” What a shocking moment it was that Jesus called his disciple, Simon Peter, “Satan!” Usually, Jesus was gentle and kind with his disciples, explaining to them things of God patiently over and over. But this time, he rebuked Simon very harshly. In our terms, he said, “You are so humanistic, bringing evil influence to the whole ministry, being used as Satan’s instrument.” At this, the disciples were shocked – they had never expected Jesus to say to one of them like that. Maybe, Simon was hurt, and others were alarmed. After this event, the whole atmosphere among them changed completely. During Bible study, they were too scared to look at Jesus; they just looked at their computer and focused on typing.

 

       Jesus also set a clear direction of how his believers, his disciples must live their life – deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Jesus. This instruction must have been very challenging for the disciples as well. It was a very burdensome teaching. After this incident, there was a certain tension among them; the atmosphere was different. Something must be done. So, Jesus planned a special event for them. Eight days later, Jesus took three of them – Peter, John and James – and went up on the mountain to pray. He said, “Let’s have a mountain top prayer.” The disciples did not know anything, but said, “Sure!” So, they climbed up the mountain, spending several hours. It was not easy. But with Jesus, they had no problem. Then, when they came up to a certain point, they separated themselves and prayed individually. As Jesus was praying, something amazing happened. Verse 29 reads: “As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.”

 

One moment Jesus was humbly praying, his appearance had nothing that would call for attention to him. Then in the twinkling of an eye, his face changed. Matthew 17:2 tells us that his face shone like the sun. Additionally, his clothes were as bright as a flash of lighting. Mark’s gospel 9:3 says, “His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” This transfiguration of Jesus was the preview of his glory. The apostle John later saw Jesus in glory. He describes this Jesus in glory in Revelation 1:14-16, 14His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters... His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” When the apostle John saw Jesus in glory, his glory was so intense and great that John fell at his feet as though he was dead. (Rev 1:17) In the Old Testament, Daniel saw the glory of Jesus. He says in Daniel 10:5,6, “I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.” Like the apostle John, when Daniel saw the glory of this figure, he had no strength left; his face turned deadly pale and he fell into a deep sleep, his face to the ground. (Dan 10:5-9) Jesus is the Creator God in nature; he is the one we must worship with all our precious treasures.

 

       When Jesus was transfigured, it became clear that he was no ordinary person; instead, he was a glorious one; he was God in flesh. On this mountain, Jesus showed them his glory as God. Why, at this particular moment, did Jesus reveal his glory to the disciples? The reason why his disciples did not accept the way of the Christ his suffering and death was because they considered it as failures. But now, as Jesus revealed himself as a glorious one, it became obvious that he would suffer and die in Jerusalem not because he was weak, but because there was a certain purpose the disciples did not know yet. That’s what Jesus wanted to show them. Jesus suffered and died in Jerusalem, not as a victim to the religious leaders’ evil scheme, but as the Lamb of God to pay the price of the sin of the world. He suffered and died because he was the Christ, the Savior of the world.

 

Look at verses 30 and 31. Let us read these verses together:

 

Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.

 

       There showed two specially invited guests Moses and Elijah. According to the bible history timeline, Moses served God about 1,400 years before this meeting with Jesus. Elijah served God 900 years earlier. Both men served God faithfully throughout their life. A common thing for them was that, as they served God’s work wholeheartedly, they reached their limit and offered a prayer to God, asking Him to kill them. Moses refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; he refused all privileges, luxuries and conveniences as the prince of Egypt, and chose to suffer together with God’s people indeed, he denied himself for God’s kingdom; he lost his life for God. Then, he served more than 2 million Israel people who were loaded with all kinds of slave mentality. How was it to take care of so many slaves? Surely, not easy. One day, he reached the limit, and could not go any longer. So he prayed to God, “I cannot carry all these people by myself; put me to death right now – if I have found favor in your eyes – and do not let me face my own ruin.” (Num 11:14-15) Elijah fought the nationwide idol worship all by himself and even won a great victory. But when he heard that the evil queen Jezebel was looking for his life, he was afraid, and ran into the desert. Then, and when he reached a broom tree, he sat under it, and prayed that he might die. He said to God in prayer, “I have had enough, LORD. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” (1Kings 19:1-4) After offering this prayer, he fell asleep. These servants of God served God’s work even until all their life was drained out, even to the point of death. They suffered a lot. So, what was the result of their suffering for God? Was it sheer failure? No! Their life did not end in misery. Instead, now, 1,400 years later, 900 years later, both of them appeared in glorious splendor. Once their mission was over, they entered glory, and now were enjoying such glory in God’s kingdom, together with all other saints, and holy angels.

 

       We see Moses did not make a mistake when he gave up the palace of Pharaoh with all its pleasures and chose to suffer with God’s people. What is left of Pharaoh? Maybe a smelly, ugly, inglorious mummy. In contrast, look at Moses standing in glorious splendor with Jesus Christ the Son of God. Look also at Elijah. Elijah never compromised with the nationwide idol worship supported by the government. Now both of them were talking with Jesus about his departure he would bring to fulfillment in Jerusalem. They were two living examples for the disciples to learn of the way of the cross.

 

       Moses and Elijah were the two representatives of the Old Testament the Law and the Prophets. Their example of appearing in glorious splendor testifies to the way of the cross; serving God with all your heart and strength even to the point of reaching your limit is the way to enter glory in God’s kingdom. This is what the Old Testament talks about through Moses and Elijah. And in the New Testament, Jesus teaches us the same truth you lose your life for Jesus by denying your dreams and desires in this world, taking up your cross daily and following Jesus. That’s how you can save your life; that’s how you can enter glory in the kingdom of God. Dedicate yourself to God’s kingdom work even to the point of letting go of your own desires, dreams and plans in this life, pursue Jesus only, and you will enter glory in the kingdom of God. This is what the Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament, talks about. Do you want to enter glory in God’s kingdom? Do you want to take charge of 10 cities, or 5 cities? Then, walk on the way of the cross; live a real Christian life as Jesus shows.

 

Second, “Listen to him” (32-36). Look at verse 32: “Peter and his companions were very sleepy but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.” Don’t doze off, lest you will miss very important things in your life. Once the disciples were fully awake, the meeting between transfigured Jesus and Moses and Elijah had come to an end. Look at verse 33. As they were leaving, so fascinated and shocked, Peter exclaimed, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” About this, the author Luke adds his comment, saying, “He did not know what he was saying.” This comment meant that, without realizing, Peter ended up exposing what was in his subconscious level, which he really wanted.

 

       “Master, it is good for us to be here.” Peter’s desire was to have that kind of glorious fellowship with great servants of God like Moses, Elijah and Jesus; for that, he was willing to stay in the mountain, forgetting about the world, willing to make shelters for them, spending a lot of time, money and effort. What about his family in the world? What about his dream to be the prime minister in Jesus’ kingdom? He was willing to give up all these things; that much he was satisfied; that much, he valued such glorious fellowship with great servants of God. In this sense, we can say that he had a spiritual desire.

 

       But at the same time, he exposed his mentality very well – he wanted glory, but the question was: How? By just staying in the mountain, building shelters for glorious beings in the kingdom of God. What did Jesus tell him to do? Deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Jesus – Jesus wanted him to dedicate himself to God’s work that much, and serve God’s kingdom very wholeheartedly and practically that’s how he would enter glory in God’s kingdom. But instead of doing this real struggle of living for God, Peter just wanted to stay in the mountain, build shelters for God’s servants, showing his honor to them, and commemorating the place where he saw them. Even if he said that he would give up his life for this, it was not what God wanted him to do; he sounded spiritual, but he was not spiritual at all in God’s eyes. That’s not what God wanted him to do.

 

       Peter’s case reveals many Christians’ mentality very well people’s desire for glory, but without really living the life of the disciples, without denying themselves, without taking up their cross, without really following Jesus. What God wants them to do is to practically live for him, by denying themselves, taking up their cross daily, serving God’s mission wholeheartedly, and following Jesus. In that way, they would be really dedicated to God. But instead of doing this, they just want to have some glory by attending well known pastors’ meetings, such as Billy Graham’s Crusade, or having a chance to meet him and shake hands with him; some people attend famous Pentecostal preachers’ meetings, seeking some kind of mysterious experiences there, such as being slain by the Holy Spirit. For this, they are willing to spend time and money purchasing flight tickets, and staying in a hotel for many days. And once they meet a great servant of God, or if they get his autograph, they consider it as great honor and talk about it over and over; or if they have that kind of mysterious experience, they consider it as an expression of their great spirituality that they brag about it over and over. In one sense, they show a certain spiritual desire. But that’s not the way God wants them to do. Like Peter, they want to just stay in the mountain and build shelters for God’s servants, while God wants them to go down and do God’s work practically. Don’t be deceived by such people – such fake spirituality.

 

Look at verses 34 and 35. Let’s read these verses together:

 

34   While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.   35   A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”  

 

       Thus far, everything went wonderfully as Jesus had designed. Yet, even at this special presentation in the mountain, even with Jesus transfigured and Moses and Elijah appearing, still the disciples didn’t catch the real message. So, God the Father intervened. Verse 34 starts with the phrase, “While he was speaking,” showing that God didn’t want to hear Peter say such things; even if Peter sounded spiritual, even if Peter was willing to give up his life in the world for the sake of staying in the mountain, God didn’t like that at all. So, even before Peter finished his words, God intervened. A cloud appeared and enveloped them. They were shocked. They were afraid as they entered the cloud. Then, God spoke to them directly from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”

 

       God the Father first established Jesus’ credential, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen.” It was was the expression of God’s approval on Jesus and on whatever he said. Whatever Jesus said was what God wanted. Then, God the Father gave them a clear direction, “Listen to him!” The way of the Christ, the way of the disciples Jesus taught them was what they must accept and obey. That was God’s will for them. What Jesus taught was not popular at all. Among all the religious leaders, there was no one who taught that the Christ must suffer, die and rise again. Among all the Jews they knew, there was no one who was living that kind of life denying themselves, taking up the cross daily and following God wholeheartedly. Yet, God the Father still wanted them to listen to Jesus; God wanted them live in that way deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Jesus.

 

       This is God’s will for us that we accept the way of the disciples as the absolute way of life, and as the absolute will of God. No matter what others say of Christian life, no matter how other Christians live their life, we must live in that way – deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Jesus.

 

       While you are measuring two opinions – the life of pursuing your own dreams and desire and the life of denying such things for God and taking up your cross -, God gives you a clear direction: Listen to Jesus; listen to God’s servants who teach you the way of the disciples. “Listen to Him!” This is God’s will for us.

 

       Look at verse 36. When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen. It was really a glorious experience. So, it seemed that, when the three disciples met the rest of the Twelve, they would tell them everything they had seen and heard. Yet, instead, they did not tell anyone about it, showing that they did not just consider the event as something exciting, but they were actually thinking about the whole message, especially, what God told them “Listen to him.” In this way, through this event, the disciples began to consider the message of the cross seriously.

 

       In today’s passage, we saw the preview of Jesus’ glory and the glory of those who served God’s mission, denying themselves and taking up their cross daily. Jesus shows us that the way of the cross is the way of glory. He commands us to follow him by denying ourselves taking up our cross daily so that we too can enter the glory God has prepared for us. God the Father says, “This is my son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”

 

 One Word:     The Way Of The Cross Is The Way of Glory

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