Who, Then, Is This? (Part Nine)

Luke 9:28-36

While he was saying this, a cloud appeared and overshadowed them. They became afraid as they entered the cloud. Then a voice came from the cloud, saying: “This is my Son, the Chosen One; listen to him!” After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They kept silent, and at that time told no one what they had seen (9:34-36 CSB).

The Father affirmed his Son’s work. The Father spoke of the dawning of a new age, the age of Messiah as the new and better covenant. The cross functions as a “new exodus”. A new day in redemptive history was about to dawn. The liberation from sin and its consequences was drawing near.

There were a number of things Moses and Elijah were not talking about. “For here, fresh from heaven, and shining with the glory of it, when permitted to talk with Him, they speak not of His miracles, nor of His teaching, nor of the honor which He put upon their Scriptures, nor upon the unreasonable opposition to Him and His patient endurance of it: They speak not of the glory which they were themselves enshrined in, and the glory which He was so soon to reach. Their subject is the exodus, the redeeming work, that he was about to do!” (D. Brown, pp. 261-262) Do we share their excitement and joy?

Christ’s redeeming work is the central truth of the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 2:2; Revelation 5:12). As Moses led God’s people of old out of bondage in Egypt, so one far better than Moses, the Lord Jesus Christ, has freed all his people from bondage to sin, Satan and death by his victory on the cross and from the empty grave. There is a better exodus!

The cross leads in turn to the consummation of God’s plan. Christ had spoken of his glory being revealed when he comes as Judge. The three disciples are given the privilege of seeing something of which he was speaking. See him flashing with the shining brilliance of glory! Wonder at this sight. Worship the Lord. My friends, we need by faith to enter into the glory of this revelation. Gaze upon the brilliant Son; listen to the Father’s majestic voice. Our God speaks to us continually through his word.

The Father affirmed his Son’s authority. The command to listen to Jesus was an indication of his authority as God’s Anointed One, as the Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 3:22-23). The second stanza of Isaac Watts’ great hymn, “Join All the Glorious Names”, joyfully says:

Great Prophet of my God
My tongue would bless Thy name
By Thee the joyful news
Of our salvation came;
The joyful news of sins forgiven,
Of hell subdued and peace with heaven.

Jesus is the final Word of God’s revelation (John 1; Hebrews 1). He is the sum and substance of the Holy Scriptures, and he completed them as his word took final written form through the New Testament apostles and prophets. Together with the Old Testament, we have one completed message from God. Listen to what the apostle Peter wrote after reflecting on the Transfiguration. We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts (2 Peter 1:19 NIV). The Great Prophet of God has made sure that his word is completely reliable through the almighty action of God the Holy Spirit. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you (John 16:13-14 NIV).

This is of immense practical importance, especially given the context. “Are we doing that? Is His word law to us? Do we like it when he speaks sharp as well as smooth things…?” (D. Brown, p. 262) Does his word win over everything in our lives that collides with it? Are we listening to the Lord Jesus? Have we confessed, “Lord Jesus, you are superior to all that have come before you or after you. You are the way, the truth and the life. You are the only way to God the Father. Lord Jesus, my only trust is in you, my only hope is you” (cf. 1 Timothy 1:1).

Grace and peace,

Jesus Explains God’s Plan (Part Two)

Luke 18:31-34

Then he took the Twelve aside and told them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. Everything that is written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles, and he will be mocked, insulted, spit on; and after they flog him, they will kill him, and he will rise on the third day.” They understood none of these things. The meaning of the saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said (CSB).

Next, let’s consider Jesus’ message and its significance. Here was God’s Prophet prophesying. I hope no one is thinking, “Oh, that’s nice. So what’s the big deal?” This is very significant! Christ is fulfilling part of his mission. He came as the Prophet that everyone must listen to. He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matthew 17:5). And what did Jesus say? He told us how God can do the impossible and save people who cannot save or help save themselves. He told us God’s plan for salvation, and this plan is based on what Jesus, the Son of Man, would do. Here Jesus said nothing about being rich or keeping the commands. Instead, he turned the attention of the Twelve from themselves to Him (Luke 18:23-27).

The essence of true Christian preaching and teaching is to take your attention off yourself and to put it on God through Jesus his Son.  As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:2: For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (NIV). To live godly in this age, we must have a Christ-focused mindset. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:1-2 NIV).

This was at least the third time that Jesus had told them these things. He had previously told them after Peter’s confession of Christ and after the healing of the boy with the evil spirit. Our Lord provided a pattern of gentle and patient instruction (cf. 2 Timothy 2:25; 4:2).

Today’s Christians are infected with the impatient attitude of our culture. We think that we should see instant results. Long term ministry is a recipe for disaster in such minds. “Why take the time to win friends? If they’re going to get saved, they’ll be saved in one week’s time.” Christians seem to be on an endless quest for some method that will produce instant revival. If someone won’t listen the first time, then we hear, “Well that didn’t work. What else can we try?” However, shouldn’t we imitate the Lord’s patience?

What was the content of his message (cf. 1 Peter 1:10-11)?

The sufferings of Christ – Jesus went into detail about these matters.

  • He talked about being handed over to the Gentiles (non-Jewish people). Notice that the New Testament does not blame the Jewish people for the death of Jesus. Sadly, even thinking twenty-first century Christians must bear the appalling failures of Christians over the previous seventeen hundred years or so.
  • He told them some of the sufferings he would endure before his death: mockery, insults, being spat on, and being flogged. Jesus is bracing his followers against the storm that would soon break. He pointed out the first rumbles of thunder.
  • He would be killed. In this instance, he did not mention crucifixion, but since the Gentiles, meaning especially the Romans, would be in charge of such matters, it was easy to understand what was meant. There were too many crosses with Jewish victims on them around Palestine.

We should not lose the horror of these words. The sacrifice of Jesus, our Great High Priest, was not pretty. It was not an art form to be admired. Sin brought death to the human race, and the bloody death of Christ satisfied God’s wrath against human sin. We do very well when we bow and worship the Lord. “Why should you love me so?” Worship is not about what you like; it is about what Christ did and your humble, believing response to redeeming love and mercy. “Amazing love, how can it be, that you, my God, should die for me?” Yes Lord, especially that cruel, accursed death on the cross!

The glory that would follow – In the midst of the deepest gloom, Jesus told the brightest hope—his resurrection on the third day. You cannot stop the Christian message at the cross and the tomb. The good news is not Mary mourning over her dead Son. It is not Christ’s followers wandering around saying, “We had hoped…” (Luke 24:21 NIV). No, no, instead it is the all-powerful Lord, ripping death apart in becoming Son of God with power. The earth is shaking, heaven is opened, and the Son of God brings many sons and daughters to glory! Amen!

Grace and peace, David