February 27, 2022

The Supremacy Of Christ

Passage: Matthew 17:1-13

A man was arraigned for murder in Los Angeles about 60 years ago.  It was a difficult case with a lot of circumstantial evidence.  The man’s defence lawyer thought of an ingenious ploy.  When he gave his closing arguments, he said: “Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, you must find my client not guilty of murder if there is the slightest doubt in your minds that he is not the murderer.  And now I have one final witness.  The true murderer is about to walk through the door.”  All eyes turned towards the door but no one came in.  The lawyer continued, “You see, Ladies and Gentlemen, there is doubt in your minds, otherwise you would not have looked towards the door.”  The jury retired to deliberate and came back five hours later with a guilty verdict.  The lawyer was beside himself and before the judge could pass sentence he said in a loud voice, “But I proved that you had doubt about my client’s guilt.  How can you possibly find him guilty?”  One of the jurors, a wise old man, stood up and said, “As everyone looked towards the door, I watched your client.  His eyes did not turn towards the door.   He did not look towards the door, because he knew no one was coming through. He himself is the guilty one.”

In contrast to that Los Angeles Courtroom, where the star witness did not appear, this morning’s Gospel reading is all about a star witness Who did appear – God, the Father. He came to answer the question that was on everyone’s lips, “Who is Jesus?”  There were so many different opinions about Jesus.  The Pharisees and Teachers of the Law thought that He was an instrument of the devil to deceive people.  Some said He was a prophet who spoke wise words.  The crowds saw Him as the miracle man – the one Who could relief them from their burdens.  Even the disciples had different believes about Jesus – to some He was only the Rabbi or Teacher, but some saw Him as God’s Gift that would always be with them.  God the Father answered all the confusion and doubts by revealing Jesus’ glory to Peter, James and John and by saying, “This is my beloved Son, with him, I am well pleased.”

Let us look at the Transfiguration in more detail.  Three major events occurred.  First               1 Jesus' Appearance Was Transformed.  Jesus led Peter, James and John up a high mountain – probably Mount Hermon.  A mountain 2,814 m above sea level and near Caesarea Philippi.  We read in verse 2, “There He was transfigured before them.  His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.”
You may recall a similar incident that occurred in the Old Testament.  We find it in Exodus 34.  Moses came down the Mountain having been in the presence of God and his face shone so much – reflecting the glory of God – that he had to wear a veil.  In 2 Corinthians 3, St. Paul made a reference of the glory of God that shone on Moses' face. In the same way as the glory of God was reflected in Moses, God the Father revealed to Peter, James and John, Jesus in His glory.  Through the ages many asked why only 3 of Jesus’ disciples witnessed His transfiguration.  The straightforward answer is – Peter, James and John formed the inner circle.  They were more intimately involved in things with Jesus, more than the others.  But still, why not more people?  Why didn’t God have all the people of the world witnessed this incident – then sin would have left every person, doubts would have ceased in the hearts of people.  But you see, it was God’s intention – only key witnesses were to see this.  Yes, Jesus told the 3 disciples in verse 9 not to tell others about the incident – not even the other 9.  You see my friends, salvation was meant to come through the cross of Golgotha.  God never intended that the world would be saved through a word spoken or a miracle.  Yes, Deuteronomy 21: 23 had to be fulfilled in the sacrificial death of Jesus – “anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse.”  That's why Jesus told those disciples not to tell anyone until He was resurrected.

The second significant event that happened at the Transfiguration was that 2 Moses And Elijah Appeared To JesusWe read in verse 3, “Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.”  There is something we have to think of about God's grace in the event of the Transfiguration – Moses who wasn’t allowed to go into the Promised Land, because he sinned, was brought into the Promised Land, even though it was just for a few moments.  O my friends, who else can be like God.  He alone is God, unique in what He does.  Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets and we find it significant that after God the Father had spoken, Moses and Elijah disappeared and Jesus alone remained.  One Bible Commentator put it his way, “The Law and the Prophets have served their turn and pass away.  He, Who is the fulfillment of both, alone remains.”  Another aspect of God the Father’s answer is that Jesus is the One Who came to fulfill the Old Covenant and to make it new.  A new era was on the horizon.  The new covenant was to be through a relationship with Jesus. Never again would anything remind God’s people that they were disqualified because  of sin. Now the anointed One of God was about to set His people free.  Jesus told His followers later in John 8: 36, “Only when the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  God is asking you and me, “Are you still bound with guilt or do you deliberately place yourself under the yoke of the law?  You can rejoice in your freedom and each time when you read my commandments think of the fact, they don’t burden you anymore.  They are only your guidelines in life; they don't point to your condemnation, for you are in Christ, the Lord, Who is my Son.”

The third significant event that happened at the Transfiguration was that 3 God The Father Spoke To The Disciples.  Matthew tells us in verse 5 that our Father confirmed Who Jesus was and is – “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”  It is interesting that when God the Father spoke, He simply said, “This is my Son.”  That was enough to Him – no more proof or explanations.  The most reliable witness ever, God Himself from heaven, called them to trust in Jesus.  Walk with Him on the journey of life.  And then the words for eternity – “Listen to Him.”  Can we make something clear?  We aren’t here to gather up evidence that we will take to others to proof to them how beneficial it will be to follow Jesus. It's simply about believing and trusting. And when you trust in the Lord, you can hear Him speaking to you.  Galil Gibran, the prophet once said, “If you want to hear God, go and listen to the wind – you will clearly hear His voice.  But you have to listen as if you want to follow”.  Are you and I willing to follow?  Are we willing to go on Jesus’ path?  Next week we again will join Jesus on the Via Dolorosa – the Road of Suffering.  That's the beginning of Lent and we are called to follow Jesus.  Let's prepare out hearts for that.


Rev. Willem H. van de Wall