Today: [Matthew 17] Are YOU Going to be Transfigured? In Matthew 17 Jesus takes Peter, James and John to a secret place and is transformed in their presence. The language and imagery of the transfiguration points tantalizingly to something of God that is yet to be experienced by men upon the earth. Yet, in the experience Jesus warns the men not to repeat what they have experienced till a later time. Is there something of this account that points to a personal experience yet to be made available to you and I?
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[Mat 17:1-27 KJV] 1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. 4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. 6 And when the disciples heard [it], they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. 7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. 8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. 9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. 10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? 11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.
In verse 1 Jesus gathers Peter, James and John and takes them to a remote location. It seems that the timing of this event is incidental to the Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ. Because these things have been disclosed to the 12, now Jesus prepares to make Himself known to this inner circle of disciples in a profound and remarkable way. In verse 2 after cloistering themselves away from prying eyes, Jesus is transfigured before them. What does this mean? As the 3 were watching, Jesus’ face began to glow with an unusual light, and His clothes were shining as though illuminated from within. As this takes place, there appears beside Jesus, two figures that were having a conversation that the disciples apparently could make note of but were either not close enough to hear, or they were not speaking loud enough for their words to be perceived.
Impetuous Peter, ever prone to speak before thinking, calls out “Lord, it is good for us to be here: let us make three tabernacles, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elias…” As Peter is making this suggestion, a cloud of ethereal origin, shining from within envelops Jesus and the two heavenly visitors and a voice from within says “this is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased…” This is similar to what the voice from heaven spoke when Jesus was baptized of John in Jordan. The disciples are overwhelmed by all of this and fall prostrate and afraid.
Jesus separates Himself from cloud and Moses and Elias and bends down to touch the prostrate men and bid them not to be afraid. The vision lifts, and they return on their way to find the remaining of the 12 with an admonition not to repeat what they have seen until He was risen from the dead…”
What an amazing experience! Questions abound as we read of this account, which was fully intended to be made known by the 3 in the accounts of the gospels Jesus assured this would be included by instructing the disciples exactly when it would be allowed for them to disclose what had happened. The first thing we must consider is why would Jesus allow the disciples to experience this?
Did this transfiguration have any implications for anyone other than Jesus Himself at this particular moment? The apostle Paul, who heard things that were not lawful to be uttered when he visited heaven, made tantalizing remarks that were very familiar in description to this account, specifically pointing to an experience that would one day be made available to the saints:
[1Co 15:51-57 KJV] 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory? 56 The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law. 57 But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
What we are seeing happen to Jesus is a manifestation of God upon His physicality, His actual human body. When we receive Jesus as savior, He takes up His home on the inside of us, dwelling in our hearts, our human spirits by faith.
When we experience the baptism of the Holy Ghost, our mind, will and emotions are impacted, overwhelmed and under the direct control in the experience by the Holy Spirit speaking through us in heavenly languages. What Paul describes and what the 3 disciples saw on the mount of Transfiguration is doubtless what it will look like when our body experiences what our spirit receives at New Birth and what our Soul experiences in the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. Peter evidently understands something of this because the suggestion to build booths, or outdoor tabernacles is language evocative of celebrating the feast of Tabernacles. In Passover Jesus is our savior, in Pentecost, He is our Spirit Baptism, and in Tabernacles He lays claim by His glory to our mortal coil, our physical bodies. Jesus demonstrates this is a mortal experience on this side of eternity, and Paul declares the same, saying that there will be those that experience the fulfillment of Tabernacles on this side of death. This goes to show us that while we may be born again, and we may have experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit, there is yet something to be revealed, impactful upon our physicality of God Spirit and baptism upon our very bodies. We do not have yet on the earth all that is available to the believer on this side of eternity. Enoch demonstrated this experience. Elijah demonstrated it likewise, and there will come a day that in our mortality, walking around on the earth we will put on His glory like a shining effulgence that apparently can come and then lift after which we would appear as normal as before, as in the case with Jesus when He came down from the mountain, looking the same as He did before the experience.
14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a [certain] man, kneeling down to him, and saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. 16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. 18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. 19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? 20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. 22 And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: 23 And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry. 24 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute [money] came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? 25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? 26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. 27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.
Upon returning, Jesus finds the disciples unable to bring relief to a child vexed with demonic activity. If a child is suffering in this way in our churches, do we escalate our efforts to see them delivered? Or do we conclude that perhaps it isn’t a demonic issue and have them treated by doctors who will induce a chemical stupor upon them with drugs for conditions such as ADHD, etc., How convenient for us that medical science is so prepared to offer easy answers for what Jesus called a result of faithlessness and perversion! We see from v. 18, what doctors would treat, and what religious practitioners would fail to cure, Jesus simply rebukes as a devil indwelling the subject and they are completely delivered.
The disciples are perplexed and asking Jesus why they could not cast the demon out. This is very interesting because today even in Full Gospel circles, no one is perplexed when they cannot get results in prayer or see the suffering relieved. Christians today don’t find this perplexing at all! Criticize the disciples as you must but see the quality of their expectation. Even though Jesus considers their faith small, but it is a faith that towers over the most audacious believer today because for them, they expect miracles to be the norm and not the exception.
When people go to the altar for healing, or deliverance we are perfectly prepared for them to walk away still sick, still tormented, still suffering, in fact we have all kinds of doctrines to justify why we have no power, no faith and no deliverance. We say it is God’s will. We say that God isn’t moving in healing just now. We suggest all manner of deep, meaningful theology when in fact the truth is that a church culture in which healing and deliverance is not the norm, is from Jesus own description a disgusting perversion not to be tolerated in the least, yet how comfortable the church has taught us to be with our powerlessness!
Jesus goes on in verse 20 to make a BLANKET FAITH STATEMENT that IF we had the smallest granule of faith we could LITERALLY move a mountain, because in faith, NOTHING SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE. Now, the wisdom of this age, would add any number of caveats to this statement. “Nothing shall be impossible, if you are asking according to God’s will…” or “Nothing shall be impossible unless God says no…” or “Nothing shall be impossible unless God declines to answer so that you can glorify Him in your suffering…” This is nauseating! We must accept on face value, and let us make up our minds to accept the naked faith statements of Jesus and embrace them as our norm, not finding justification for our powerlessness, but leaning with our whole person into the rarified expectation of miracles, deliverance and healing every time we pray, every time we look up to heaven exercising the faith with which Jesus assures us will move any obstacle in our path.
Having then revealed Himself in transfiguration, Jesus again (as He did at Peter’s annunciation) speaks of His impending betrayal and crucifixion. Even though He told the 3 on the mount that He would be resurrected, that is not remembered and the 12 are exceedingly heavy hearted to hear that these things would befall their master. Taking their leave of the multitude Jesus returns to Capernaum where Peter is concerned about paying his taxes that are now due. Jesus takes occasion to speak to Peter about his citizenship in the kingdom and instructs him to cast a hook into the sea and miraculously Peter finds a coin in the mouth of the fish, sufficient to pay taxes for himself and for Jesus as well.
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