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The Transfiguration of Christ – Part 4


The Transfiguration of Christ – Part 4
Text: Matthew 17:1-8

1. God’s Pointer to His Presence! While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them
Now there is great significance in this.

* The Reason of the Cloud! When we read about a cloud in the Scriptures, in connection with God, it always indicates that God’s Glory is present! God, you see, in his essence is invisible. 1 Tim. 6:15-16. So, God symbolised His presence by a cloud. Now, why would God choose to do this? Consider:-
At the Red Sea! Exodus 14:19-20
Upon Mt Sinai, receiving the Law! Exodus 24:15-16
When the Tabernacle rested in the wilderness!. Exodus 40:34-35
When Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem was dedicated! 2 Chron. 5:13-14
On the day of Christ’s ascension! Acts 1:9
Christ enthroned in heaven! Rev. 14:14

* The Radiance of the Cloud! Now, see here that there is a modifier used. This was not just a cloud – it was BRIGHT cloud. Under the law it was commonly a thick and dark cloud that God made the token of his presence; he came down upon mount Sinai in a thick cloud Exodus 19:16 But we are now come, not to the mount that was covered with thick blackness and darkness (Heb_12:18), but to the mount that is crowned with a bright cloud.

* The Rescue of the Cloud! It overshadowed them. It protected them. This cloud was intended to break the force of that great light which otherwise would have overcome the disciples, and have been intolerable!

So the disciples saw this cloud descending. They knew what that meant! God was present! As if that was not enough confirmation they heard…

2. God’s Pronouncement from His Presence! behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him
At the Transfiguration God audibly spoke and the disciples heard that voice! What did God say? He attested to:-
The Dignity of Christ’s Person! behold a voice out of the cloud This is God’s Son! His only begotten Son, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father. He possesses the express image of the Divine Person. He is the heir of all things, the Lord of all, He is God over all!
The Delight of the Father in His Son! This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; Now notice the great importance of this statement:-

It reminds us of His SINLESSNESS! It relates to His Baptism, which he did in obedience to God the Father, and in order that the Law (all righteousness) might be fulfilled. Matthew 3:13-15 This was the very same formula that was spoken from heaven at his baptism Matthew 3:17 – He could perfectly fulfil the Law, which we could never do – and He, as our representative, has kept the law – pleased a Holy God – for US, in His perfect obedience, even to the extent of going to the Cross.

It reminds us of His MISSION! Luke 9:51

The Demand for Exclusive Obedience! hear ye him God requires obedience to Christ – ALONE. The disciples were Jews. They were taught to hear and obey the Law and the prophets, and there, standing in front of them were the supreme representatives of the OT system, Moses – the Law, Elijah – the prophets! And God says to them OBEY Jesus! 2 Cor. 5:19. Now, our only obedience is to be to the Lord Jesus Christ!

3. God’s People and His Presence! And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. Matthew 17:5-8
Christ’s disciples were OVERCOME with God’s Glory! This was too much for these poor, ordinary human creatures. They experienced exactly the same reaction as did Isaiah when he saw the Lord in the temple at Jerusalem. So it was with Peter and James and John. They fell on their faces and were sore afraid. Have we ever really appreciated that when we meet together in this manner, we are entering the very presence of God! Where is our sense of wonder, our sense of awe? Our sense of reverence?

Jesus calmed their fears! And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. All the splendour has gone now – the cloud has gone – the attendants have left – Jesus has returned to his earthly, human appearance. Notice exactly what happens next:-

Jesus came to them! His approach banished their fears; and when they saw that they were in the presence of Christ, they needed nothing more to encourage and cheer them!

Jesus touched them! Christ’s touches were often healing, and here they were strengthening and comforting.

Jesus spoke to them! The human Lord says to the disciples, Don’t be afraid! There is something very interesting here. They had heard a voice from heaven, telling them to LISTEN TO Jesus – in other words, TO OBEY HIS WORDS! What were the first words they heard after that? Don’t be afraid! The Lord’s commands are always for our good. Matthew 11:29-30

Finally, see that their encounter with the Glory of Christ had a surprising conclusion. They saw NO MAN – SAVE Jesus ONLY! Only Jesus!

R K McEvoy

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