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The Transfiguration of Christ #3


The Transfiguration of Christ – Part 3
Text: Matthew 17:1-8

1. Peter’s Ecstatic Praise! Lord, it is good for us to be here
Peter was thrilled with the Person of Christ! He was amazed at what he saw and with being in the presence of the Lord Jesus. What a great joy to be in the presence of Christ, and in the company of believers! Psalm 122:1 Now, just how glad are we to be in the presence of God? I have to say that sometimes I wonder about ‘Christians’ who have no desire to be in the place where Christ meets his people. A Christian will desire to be at the prayer meeting, and will seek out firstly, the company of other regenerate souls…

2. Peter’s Enthusiastic Proposal! if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
Peter wanted to maintain his happiness! His was not an unreasonable suggestion. Let’s consider what might be commendable in Peter’s proposal:-

He was not seeking a PERMANENT SITUATION. He only wanted to erect temporary buildings, just tabernacles, so he didn’t want to stay there forever, just for a little while more.
He was proposing proper BIBLICAL SEPARATION! He didn’t want to set up these tabernacles in the world! At least Peter’s desire was to stay in a spiritual, godly place. Many Christians would rather set up their tent on worldly ground!
It was an CHRIST EXALTING! He wanted these tabernacles to be for the Lord, and for his glorified saints – not for himself! So, it was the opposite of much of modern religion, which is more about ME than about the Lord!
It SUBMITTED TO GOD’S WILL! Peter’s proposal is prefaced by the prayer, ‘Lord, if it be your will!’ Lord, if this seems good to you!

At least Peter is seen as being enthusiastic about his faith, and wanted to serve the Lord, and worship the Lord with great fervour and passion!

3. Peter’s Erroneous Perception!
So, Peter was enthusiastic, but in trying to understand God’s will in this situation, Peter made some very common mistakes! Let’s analyse it a little…

It was an EMOTIONAL RESPONSE TO WORSHIP! Peter made this decision with his heart alone, taking into account only his feelings, and not with his heart and his head acting together! Paul addressed this in Romans 12:1-2. If you want to know and do God’s will, its not enough to rely on your feelings, – you must submit yourself to God’s word, and have your mind thoroughly renewed by the work of the Holy Spirit, applying the word to your mind. Religion without the head, without thought and intelligence and the spiritually renewed mind will be nothing only fanaticism. Mind you, religion without the heart will be nothing more than cold formality.
It was a DESIRE TO EXPERIENCE HEAVEN NOW! Now, to some extent, Christians DO experience heaven here on earth. Paul explains in Ephesians that when we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we have a down-payment of heaven! Ephes. 1:13-14. But that is not what Peter is asking for here. He wanted heaven on earth with the Lord, right now, and that is not God’s will! Others fall into that trap:-
* The OLD-FASHIONED LIBERALS! Liberal Protestants. They believed in creating heaven on earth through charity and good works. These are things that Christians should be involved in, but not as a substitute for the Gospel of Grace!
* The FAITH and PROSPERITY PEOPLE! It would be the equivalent of those members of the visible church who believe that God wants all His elect and saved people to be happy all the time, healthy all the time, and continuing to enjoy material prosperity here on this earth.
Let’s consider the path to heaven… It is about taking up your cross and following Christ! Throughout the troubles and chastening of this world, the Lord is moulding us, preparing us, shaping us, to bring us to heaven!
It was a SELFISH ACT of SPIRITUAL SUPERIORITY! What about the brethren who were not on this mountain with Jesus? It is easy to get involved in a kind of spiritual one-upmanship! To think that you are a superior spiritual person, better than others,. There are none of us any better than any other. We are only sinners, who deserve nothing other than to be cast into hell for all eternity, and who are saved from it only by the grace of God!
It shows a MISTAKEN VIEW OF HEAVEN! In glory, the saints in heaven dwell in the presence of the Lord, not in separate places! Glorified saints will not be excluded from each other, never mind excluded from their Lord.
It DISREGARDED THE OLD TESTAMENT! Do you remember the stories of Moses and Elijah? Why would it be reasonable to suggest that these men, who had dwelt for years in heaven with the Lord, would return to this world, from which they had been so gloriously removed?
It OVERLOOKED the CROSS! Now, Peter had actually been there when Jesus and the two heavenly attendants spoke about Calvary, and he still didn’t take in the importance of it all! If Peter’s suggestion had been followed, the Lord would not have gone to the Cross, atonement for sin would not have been made, God’s purposes would have been thwarted. Can we be aware of the danger of a CROSSLESS RELIGION? The Cross divides people, where a moral religion can be sold as a unifying force for all mankind – so it suits the post-modern mindset. But it won’t do for eternity. The way of the Cross leads home, and we must all go by that way!

So Peter’s proposal was well meaning, and enthusiastic, but it was mistaken, and if acted upon would have been totally out of the will and purposes of God, and would have been detrimental to the souls of men. So it was rejected by Jesus. Luke tells us that when Peter spoke, he did not know what he said! Next week, we shall see what happened next!

R K McEvoy
Listen on

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