Fruitful Life @ Trinity
A Preview of Heaven, Matthew 17:1-9, Transfiguration Sunday A
- Bible Trivia
- Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
- Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
Small Group Bible StudySeptember 20, 2018 - 9:30 AM - 11:00 AMMark your calendar. We meet every first and third Thursdays of the month for a small group Bible Study at the Dennehys'. Please let us know that you are coming.
- Do you know that some movies are filmed with alternative endings? For example, Will Smith’s “I am Legend,” has an alternative ending, which you can find it on YouTube. I don’t quite understand why they would spend a lot of money and time to shoot an alternative ending, and why they didn’t decide when they finalize the script. Some alternative endings are a stark contrast to each other.Jesus’ life on earth had an alternative ending. The scene of the Transfiguration is one possible ending. It was an ideal ending or a preferred ending. However, the actual ending, as we know it, was the crucifixion.Let’s compare these two endings of Jesus’ mission on earth—the preferred ending and the actual ending.In the preferred ending, Jesus appeared on a mountain, but in the actual ending, Jesus was on the cross.In the preferred ending, Jesus was accompanied by two saints—Moses and Elijah, but in the actual ending, Jesus was accompanied by two thieves. What a contrast?In the preferred ending, Jesus took people to the place, but in the actual ending, Jesus was taken to the place carrying his cross.In the preferred ending, the scene was bright, but in the actual ending, the scene was dark.In the preferred ending, Jesus’ garment illuminated, but in the actual ending, Jesus’ garment was stripped off.In the preferred ending, Jesus was glorified, but in the actual ending, Jesus was shamed.In the preferred ending, God confessed Jesus, “This is my Son, the Beloved,” but in the actual ending, God abandon Jesus.Would it be nice that the world ended in the preferred version of the ending? Jesus revealed his identity on a high mountain, God glorified him, people honored him, and the world goes on to live happily ever after.Peter was overjoyed by the vision. He thought it was the perfect way to end this sin-sick world and start a new world with these three great rulers. He suggested that they build three palaces on this mountain—one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.Since, right before this passage, Peter had already confessed that Jesus was the Messiah, so maybe he was thinking Jesus’ palace would be the main palace at the center, and Moses and Elijah would be on each side of Jesus.Unfortunately, the world couldn’t end that way because the world has chosen a different ending. Why and how? Let me explain. Let’s look at verse 9:As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (Mathew 17:9).Jesus revealed the alternative ending is at play. He must suffer death and he will be raised from the dead. Only after that, you can tell people about this vision. Jesus is indicating that the vision they saw is the vision of the Second Coming. So it’s not the alternative ending, but the ending of the sequel.By now, Jesus has revealed to the disciples about his imminent suffering, but it was hard for the disciples to swallow. It didn’t make sense for the Messiah to suffer a humiliating death.So, they tried to argue with Jesus in verse 10 with a question,And the disciples asked him, “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” (Mat 17:10).They were right, according to the prophesy, God would send Elijah to restore the world before the Messiah comes. What they meant is that Elijah would have taken care of this disgraced world and set the hearts of the people right, so that when the Messiah comes it would have been a perfect world for the Messiah to reign forever.Now, this is Jesus answer:He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist. (Mat 17:11-13).What is Jesus revealing here? This world is corrupt beyond repair—it’s in total depravity. Elijah (a.k.a) John the Baptist tried to restore it, but what did they do with John? They beheaded him.Jesus said since they treated John that way, he would be treated the same way. The worse is about to come.The death of John the Baptist has determined the alternative ending of Jesus' life on earth. What you see on the mountain will become the vision of the Second Coming. It’s now reserved for the ending of the sequel. So, the disciples could only tell people about this vision after the resurrection.For now, this world is too disgraced to deserve the second ending. It needs a total redemption. It needs the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. It needs to be cleansed by the blood of Christ. John Calvin calls it the irresistible grace.Peter’s dream to build the three temples was exploded. God has an instruction to him. It would be the same instruction to all of us:“This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5b).The instruction is “Listen to him.” I think this instruction leads perfectly to the Lenten season.Today is Transfiguration Sunday, the Sunday before Lent. Lent is a season to listen.Sometimes, we get busy doing instead of listening. God gave us a mouth and two ears, meaning we are supposed to speak less and listen more. Like Peter, we want to do great things for God, but what God wants us to do is just listening.Spiritual listening is a skill we all need. It doesn’t mean we don’t act, but it means we must listen before we act, especially at times like this where there is a great deal of noises around us.One of the reasons we don’t listen to God is that we are afraid of hearing God’s voice. Verse 6 says,“When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear.” (Mat 17:6).Our sinful nature makes us afraid of God’s voice. We think if God were to speak to us, it would be a serious scold or a frightening judgment. Are you afraid of listening to God?God is telling us that the voice of Jesus represents him. Verse 7 shows us how Jesus speaks:But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” (Mat 17:7).Several times in the Bible, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid”, “Peace be with you,” “Come to me. I am gentle and humble in heart.” The voice of Christ is non-threatening. There’s nothing to fear.Over the years, you have heard me talking about fasting, especially during the Lenten season. The main purpose of fasting is to heighten your ability to listen to God. It’s proven historically, and even by many religions. In Christianity, it’s a lost discipline.Most people only think, fasting is only good for their body and health, but spiritual fasting is to finetune your connection with Christ. It unclogs your spiritual ears so that you can listen to him.This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent. It’s the first day of fasting. Lent lasts for forty days. Sundays are not counted. So, the discipline of fasting is that you fast for six days, and rest for the Sundays between Ash Wednesday and Easter.If you don’t know how to fast, or have never fast, start slowly and learn carefully. You can use this opportunity to learn it so that you know how to do it in the future.What’s most important is that you must have in mind the purpose of fasting. The purpose is to listen to Jesus because God said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him, I am well pleased; listen to him!” Don’t fast ritualistically, it’s useless. Jesus was against ritualistic fasting. It’s fasting without a heart.How do you know if you are hearing him? Jesus’s voice will never contradict his words in the Bible. So, during Lent, it’s better to spend time reading the Bible. I encourage you to read the Four Gospels because they recorded his words, thoughts, and actions. Over time, you will get familiar with his voice through the Bible and you will know how to listen to him.Generally, his voice will be like this, “Get up and do not be afraid.” It’s healing, affirming, and empowering.“Get up and do not be afraid” is a good start for listening to Jesus. At this moment of your life, what do you need to get up from? How have you fallen? You can use the fruit of the spirit to assess.Have you fallen from love? Jesus said, “Get up and do not be afraid.” Don’t be afraid to love again. Your wounds from love are healed.Have you fallen from joy? Many people in this world like to pour cold water at you to extinguish your joy. Jesus said, “Get up and do not be afraid.” Be joyful again.Have you fallen from peace? There are so many things around us that try to rob us of our peace. Again, Jesus said, “Get up and do not be afraid.” Reconcile your relationships and have peace.Have you fallen from patience? Patience is a matter of hope. If you have hope you are patient. Have you lost hope? Jesus said, “Get up and do not be afraid.” There’s resurrection even after the crucifixion. There is hope in Christ.Have you fallen from kindness? Maybe your kindness was betrayed, and you are reluctant to be kind again. Jesus said, “Get up and do not be afraid.” You know that he has been betrayed a big time. He knows how you feel.Have you fallen from generosity? Maybe your generosity was abused, and you are afraid of contributing to a wrong cause again. Jesus said, “Get up and do not be afraid.” Jesus was generous even on the cross, forgiving his accusers.Have you fallen from faithfulness? Maybe you have broken some promises and you think you are a lost cause. Jesus said, “Get up and do not be afraid.” You can start over with a clean slate by asking him for his forgiveness.Have you fallen from gentleness? Maybe you have made a rude remark and regret it. Jesus said, “Get up and do not be afraid.”Have you fallen from self-control? Maybe you have indulged yourself with unhealthy food or habits. Jesus said, “Get up and do not be afraid.”Transfiguration is a vision of hope. It’s a preview of heaven. It’s the alternative ending of Jesus’ mission. All’s well that ends well. So, whatever you are struggling with, listen to Jesus, “Get up and do not be afraid.” If you listen to Christ, your life can become a preview of heaven.May God bless you all. Amen!
- Open the Eyes of My Heart
- Jesus, Take Us to the Mountain
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