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The Glory of the Chosen One

In Luke 9:26-38, Jesus takes a short break from public ministry to go with His three chief disciples up on the mountain to draw near to God and pray. While the disciples sleep, Jesus prays, and divine glory bursts through, altering the appearance of His face, and causing His garments to shine and glitter like the sun flashing off the snow. Moses the lawgiver and Elijah the prophet also appear in glory, and speak with Jesus about His upcoming exodus in Jerusalem.

When the disciples wake up, the two men are leaving, but Peter wants to house the glory on the mountain, like the Jews housed the glory of God in the tabernacle following Moses’ exodus. But Moses and Elijah hadn’t come to stay, and as wonderful as these two heroes of Israel were, their glory was not to be compared with that of Jesus. God wraps them in a cloud, and proclaims that Jesus is the Chosen One, the one whom the disciples need to listen to even more than they need to hear Moses or Elijah. Someone greater than the lawgiver and the prophet was here, and so when the cloud was lifted, Jesus was found alone.

The disciples keep what they’ve seen to themselves until after Jesus’ exodus is complete, but the lesson they receive concerns one of the key challenges that God’s people will face in the early years of the church. Countless controversies arise over how Jesus’ words fit in with the law and the prophets, and these controversies (discussed in Acts, Galatians, and especially Hebrews) are only resolved when Moses and Elijah take a backseat to Jesus. The law and the prophets cannot save; they can only point to the glory of Christ.

Our challenge today, however, is not that we think too much of Moses or Elijah, but that we think too much of ourselves! Jesus says, “Deny yourself and take up your cross.” Your desires say, “Indulge yourself and take up your couch.” Jesus says “Seek first the kingdom of God.” Your heart says “Seek first the kingdom of you.” Because you don’t open your sleepy eyes to see the glory of Jesus, you are the most glorious person you’ve ever seen, and so your voice is the one you listen to!

Do you see how even little, everyday sins are the result of misplacing glory and listening to the wrong person? If we see Jesus as glorious, we obey Him. If we do not see Jesus as glorious, then we listen to ourselves instead. The Transfiguration reveals the glory of Jesus so that we will stop listening to anyone who’s glory falls short of the glory of God’s Chosen One. A glimpse of glory is a weapon in the war against sin.

Consider also that Jesus’ glory is revealed in prayer. It was while He was in communion with God that His face shone. Maybe you’ve noticed in your own life that when you pray more, you sin less. The Transfiguration shows us why that happens: when we don’t listen to Jesus, we sin. When we lose sight of Jesus’ glory, we don’t listen to Him. When we don’t draw near to God in worship and prayer, we lose sight of His glory. And so when this happens in your fight against sin, when you are starting to listen to the Serpent’s voice instead of the Son’s voice, you need to pray! Like Moses, ask God to show you His glory. Listen to God speak through His Word and remind you of the glory of Jesus.

A second point is like the first: a glimpse of glory is fuel for faith. Fighting sin is the negative side; trusting Jesus is the positive side. Up on the mountain, the true glory of Jesus is revealed, providing a firm foundation for faith. Peter, James, and John didn’t know if following Jesus would end well (remember, Jesus had just announced to His disciples that His path would lead to death), but once they saw who Jesus really was, they followed Him all the way.

If you’ve never experienced the majesty of Jesus, you won’t have much confidence to walk the path with Him. But once you’ve seen the face of Jesus shining with heavenly glory, then you’ll follow Him anywhere, even to death. How much more should this be true for us, now that Jesus’ “exodus” (His death, resurrection, and ascension) has been accomplished! So what if you don’t know how Jesus is going to make something glorious out of your life. You’ve seen His glory! Through the preaching of His Word, Jesus Christ has been revealed to you as the glorious Son, God’s Chosen One. Listen to Him, trust in Him, follow Him, and worship Him.

Posted on Tuesday, February 09, 2016 by CJ Bowen