28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.
37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. 40 And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43 And all were astonished at the majesty of God.
But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, 44 “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
As we continue in the Gospel of Luke, might have noticed that the first thing that verse 28-45 occurs, as Luke notes: “…eight days after these sayings.”
Eight days after what sayings. Let’s recap what was said right before this passage. What did Christ say?
- Verse 22: The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected…and be killed, and on the third day be raised
- Verse 23: If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
- Verse 24: Whoever would save his live will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
- Verse 25: What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
- Verse 26: Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory.
Now, if you were listening last week you should have remembered these sayings but I want to point this out because, in a moment, we’re going to be tempted to think of others as more hard-hearted than ourselves but do any of us have any reason to judge the forgetfulness of others this evening?
So, again, eight days after Christ had said these things, he took Peter and John and James up on the mountain to pray.
Verses 29-31 reads:
29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory
First of all, we read that Christ’s appearance was changed and that His face and His clothing became dazzling white. He emanated dazzling glory. Furthermore, on the mountain with Him were Moses and Elijah.
Why Moses and Elijah? Again the text does not tell us but we can reasonably conclude that Moses represented the Law of God. He was a servant in God’s House and faithfully delivered the Law of God. The entire Old Covenant was under the precepts of the Law of God and Moses had acted faithfully to lead God’s people from bondage and bring them into the wilderness to serve Yahweh. He was God’s faithful Prophet to speak the Words that God commanded Him and to write them down for the people to obey as a Nation of God’s peculiar people.
In Deuteronomy 18, before the people entered the land that God had promised, he foretold of a Prophet, like Moses, who would speak the things that God told Him. He would remind them of God’s Word and of His holiness and His righteous requirements.
Elijah, then, represented the Prophetic Office of Israel and how they reminded people of the Law that God had Covenanted with them. He made the heavens stop raining according to the curse of the Law and He called the people back to their true God. Prophets would follow him to prosecute a rebellious nation for their disobedience but the Prophet was now here.
Pay attention now to what Christ was telling Moses and Elijah. Verse 31 records that Christ: “…spoke of his departure which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”
I think it is easy to get distracted by the transfiguration of Christ and completely focus on that point and forget that Christ was speaking to Moses and Elijah about His impending death on a Cross. The word that is translated “departure” in in verse 31 is the same word that is translated “exodus”. Christ was telling of His own exodus that was about to occur.
The disciples awoke from a deep sleep and they saw Christ’s glory and the glory of the two men. As Moses and Elijah were departing, Peter said to Jesus in verse 33: “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”.
Now the telling part of that is what follows because the Scriptures say that Peter did not know what he said. In other words, it was a foolish thing to say.
Peter’s ignorance is somewhat excusable given the light of the Old Testament. We have more light and I wonder if any of us here know why this was such a bad idea.
Do you really think that three tents, made by sticks and leaves, can contain the glory that was revealed that night? Do you think Christ granted them this vision just so they could all hang out and have their own personal Hall of Fame of spiritual giants? Did Christ come in order to remain in His splendor and tabernacle on a mountain with the Law and the Prophets? Or did He come down from glory for a purpose?
As the story continues, a cloud came and overshadowed them and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. If you know your Scriptures you might hearken back to the book of Exodus where the glory of the Lord covered Mount Sinai and the people were terrified. They even thought that Moses had died because he didn’t return for forty days after entering that fearful cloud. Animals had to be put to death for even touching that fearful and holy mountain.
Beloved, the glory, the holiness, the majesty of God is awesome and terrifying. We’re so accustomed to entering His presence in worship that we forget, in our hard-heartedness, that our God is a holy and consuming fire. The creature, with the stain of sin, is right to be terrified in His presence.
Verse 35: “And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One, listen to him!””
Listen to Him. Do you know what Christ said to the disciples later on or were you not listening?
The Father’s words served to gird up Christ up and encourage Him for the task ahead. Here, the Father, with tender love, testifies of His only begotten and beloved Son and strengthens Christ for His purpose.
Verse 36: “And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.”
Now there’s a reason for this silence because Christ purposefully hid His glory. Indeed, it was glory that the people expected from the Messiah but it was not glory that the people needed from the Son of God. They needed a despised and rejected Lamb for their sins. They wanted a Savior that would be respectable in the eyes of men and inspire awe. Yet, glory unimaginable was in their midst, in human flesh, to suffer and to die.
37 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38 And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. 40 And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41 Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.”
Coming down from the mountain they were met by a great crowd. Now, I don’t know about you, but I love these stories of men who were so bold and earnest to cry out to Christ.
Lepers cried out to Him.
Blind men groped for Him.
Paralyzed men were lowered into rooms by their friends.
Who cares about politeness or the approval of the crowd?! I need to get Jesus’ attention!
“Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child.”
Christ, please look at my child. Look at him please. Take notice of him. He’s my only child.
Do you hear the desperation borne out of love for his only son? He had every reason to be desperate for:
“Behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. And I begged your disciples to cast it out but they could not.”
How many years had this man prayed to God to deliver his son? Imagine the pain of a father’s love crying out to God as he helplessly watched his son in the clutches of demonic hands!
He was known in the town as the father of a demon-possessed boy. Only a parent’s love can sustain affection. These were not the hopes and dreams he had for an only son. This father loved his boy in spite of this and he would not abandon him even if it meant the reproach of a town.
But now the man heard that Christ and His disciples were near and that they could cast out demons. He had begged the disciples to help his beloved son but they could not.
Christ! Look on my son!
Now Christ’s response must seem harsh: “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son to me.”
One night earlier Christ had been on a mountain emanating refulgent glory but, off in the distance, down in the valley, was the despair of a fallen humanity. Down in the valley was the father of a demoniac who wanted deliverance from the power of Satan.
Up on the mountain, Christ’s glory was fully manifest but He had to come down from that mountain, veil His glory, to be among a faithless and wicked generation.
Scribes and Pharisees interested to see how they could trip Him up.
People sneering at a man and his demoniac son.
Disciples who still didn’t understand why He had come.
But Christ didn’t remain in glory where His holiness could only condemn but came down into the valley. With compassion, Christ told the man to bring to Him his only son.
Luke 9:42 – While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father.
Before Christ had said a Word, the demon threw the boy to the ground. But at a simple rebuke, Christ cast out that unclean spirit and healed the boy.
And because Christ had come to restore fathers back to their children and children to their fathers, we read these beautiful words: “and He gave him back to his father.”
Christ fully understood the love that a Father has for His only Son. Christ had returned a son to his father. Christ had defeated the powers of darkness in the child’s life. The price that Christ would pay was that He would soon hang on a Cross. The price that Christ would pay is that the Son would offer Himself up to His heavenly Father to receive the wrath that a faithless people deserved and deliver the world from the power of darkness.
43 And all were astonished at the majesty of God. But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, 44 “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
Did the Word of God sink into your ears or were you too busy marveling at the work? The Father commanded you and me to listen to Christ on the mount of glory. Christ commanded His disciples to let these words sink into their ears: “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.”
The disciples didn’t understand this is because it was concealed from them.
Do you understand?
Is it concealed from you?
Do you even care whether you understand or are you too busy marveling with the crowd at a powerful sign but fail to follow Christ and listen to what He has to say?
Christ is the Son of God from all eternity. All life, all holiness, all majesty, all goodness, all justice, belong to Him and the Father and the Holy Spirit in one God forever.
In Isaiah 6, Isaiah was transported into the courts of God and saw a vision of the Son of God sitting, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the Temple. The Seraphim flew around Him covering their feet and their eyes to protect themselves from the awesome glory of God and cried out: “Holy! Holy! Holy! Is the Lord God almighty, the whole earth is full of His glory!”
And the vision of that holiness cut Isaiah to the heart. He fell to his face and heaped curses upon himself because he saw the sinfulness of his sin in the presence of a holy God.
Had Christ remained in glory, He would have simply been the judge of all mankind for their sin.
Condemnation. Hell. Everlasting judgment.
That is the only thing the enemies of God deserve and that is what you and I and everyone else in this world deserve.
But God. But God. But God is rich in mercy.
While we were still His enemies. While we were in the valley, a sinful and perverse generation, Christ came down from immeasurable glory and put on the veil of human flesh. He came near to a sinful people, cloaked in that flesh, because without the veiling of His glory we could not come near Him. We could not approach the holy mountain and so He tabernacle in flesh and came down.
Peter was like us. Peter wanted to make coverings of sticks and leaves and say: “God, come hang out with me just as I am. I like majesty. I like glory. Give me a celebrity so I can tell everyone that someone famous is my friend and lives in a tent that I made Him.”
But Christ didn’t need a Tabernacle made by feeble human hands. He was already in the Tabernacle of His flesh. He hadn’t come to simply manifest His glory so everyone could “High Five” and say “I want to be like that guy.”
No, beloved, He already possessed all glory and didn’t need the acclaim of men. And so, while men marveled at the works of God and worshipped God’s work but didn’t worship the God Who worked them, Christ set His face like flint to the Cross.
The Cross? The place of the Curse? The place of reproach?
Nobody but the worst criminals went to the Cross. But Christ had come to offer up His Person on the Cross and became a curse for us. We, in our seeking of glory for ourselves, would have gladly driven every nail and more into Christ’s flesh for disappointing us with the disdain of the Cross!
The Cross was not our idea. The Cross made no sense to us!
But as those nails pierced Him, the Sin of His people was nailed there.
As He hung between heaven and earth the perfect, majestic Son of God received the wrath that God’s enemies deserve.
As He cried out in agony, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me!”, He received the forsakenness and eternal wrath that a wicked and rebellious people deserve.
And by this sacrifice in our place, sin and death died with Him. Death could not hold Him and so He rose on the third day and all who believe upon Him rise with Him. As He ascended into glory, He made way for us to approach boldly into the throne of grace.
We enter by the veil of Christ’s perfect flesh.
Christ came down from that mountain for you and me, beloved. For you and me if you but believe upon Christ. Cast yourself at the Savior’s feet. Ignore the crowds looking for glory. Ignore the reproach of the people. Your sins are far worse than you ever imagined.
Cry out! Cry out!
“Master! Look on me!”
Only a man who knows he’s a wretch and knows the Savior can see the glory of a Cross that puts to death his sin. And because we know that Christ is the Son of God we have all the confidence in the world to exclaim:
1 Corinthians 15:54-57
54 “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us pray.