Thursday, January 23, 2014

A GLIMPSE OF HIS GLORY (Matthew Chapter 17)

Six days following Jesus’ revelation to His disciples of His pending death, He led Peter, James, and John up a high mountain where He was “transfigured” before them (Matthew 17:1).  Perhaps it was to reassure them—in light of the revelation of His pending suffering and death—as to His true identity and therefore encourage them in their faith.  Whatever the reason, it was a privileged viewing for only three disciples.

He was transfigured before them (Matthew 17:2).  The Greek word, metamorphoo, is related to our English metamorphis and means to “change into another form.”  The result of this was that “His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light” (Matthew 17:3).  They were privileged to see what others were not—Christ transfigured before them. His face shone with a light unrivaled on planet earth.  His garments were made whiter than white, “as no launderer on earth can whiten them” (Mark 9:3).

Moses and Elijah, representing both the Law and prophets, appeared and talked with Jesus (Matthew 17:3).  A bright cloud overshadowed them all.  A voice declared: “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5).  What are we to make of this occurrence?

The full manifestation of the “incarnate Deity” was “veiled in flesh.”  His preincarnate state was that of sharing in the glory of the Father “from before the world was” (John 17:5).  In His incarnation He took “the form of a bond-servant, and (was) made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7).  He divulged Himself of His glorious array.  The King of Kings and Lord of Lords put aside His glorious robe and dressed down for the occasion (Cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9; Isaiah 53:2).

Christ’s incarnation is a matter of great mystery and wonder!  Martin Luther said that it represents a matter “which is beyond all human comprehension.”  To hear of suffering and death on one day, and to behold Jesus in glorious array on another was quite the dichotomy of experience for the disciples.  And the dichotomy remains difficult to comprehend.  “He left His Father’s throne above, so free, so infinite His grace!  Emptied Himself of all but love, And bled for Adam’s helpless race; Amazing Love! How can it Be, That Thou,  My God, shouldst die for me!”

The experience stuck with Peter.  Years later he wrote about it: “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).  They were eyewitnesses of His majesty!  They saw Jesus in all of His glorious splendor on that day.  Peter never forgot that experience.  It was a foretaste of what we will all experience when “the day dawns and the morning star arises in (our hearts)” (2 Peter 1:19).

John experienced a similar encounter with Jesus on the island of Patmos.  He saw Jesus.  “His face was like the sun shining in its strength” (Revelation 1:16).  When he saw him, he “fell at His feet like a dead man” (Revelation 1:17; Cf. Matthew 17:6).

Only Peter, James, and John were privileged to behold Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration on that day.  But just as they beheld His glory, the believer in Christ is one who has been Spirit-led to gain a vision of the majesty of the Savior (2 Corinthians 4:6).  There will come a day  when every believer will “see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2), “when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).  “And we shall behold Him, We shall behold Him, Face to face in all of His glory!”  What a glorious day that will be! 

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