A transfiguration of Jesus abruptly took place late one evening on Mount Hermon near Jerusalem. The glorious event revealed God's shekinah glory through Christ. Essential knowledge was passed to us from God Almighty.
Please read Luke 9:21-36 before starting GraspingGod.com's free Bible study lessons, #2.16.
Previous lesson: Jesus and the Canaanite Woman #2.15.
Preliminary Bible Study Questions:
1) Did the Kingdom of God come down from heaven at the transfiguration of Jesus?
2) What two resurrected saints from the Hebrew Scriptures visited during the transfiguration of Christ?
3) Why did the transfiguration of Christ occur?
I hope you're ready for a very worshipful Bible study lesson today. There is nothing like catching a glimpse of God's glory!
Jesus Christ brought Peter, James, and John up to the mountaintop to pray. This was a week after Jesus told the disciples, "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:27). The three disciples would soon discover what Jesus meant with that statement.
Both John (John 1:14) and Peter (2 Peter 1:16) made references to the shekinah glory that emanated from Jesus during the mountaintop experience. Wow! These two men along with James saw the Son of Man for who he really is - the Son of God!
They trekked up the mountain with what they perceived as a normal man, leaving with undeniable proof that Jesus was the Son of God. The transfiguration of Jesus changed their entire view of their Master. It will change our view of Jesus Christ, too.
The three disciples were very tired and the accounts tell us they were drifting off to sleep. These guys were always falling asleep when Jesus needed them! A commotion woke them and they were shocked at what they saw. After shaking off the cobwebs, the three disciples saw two men standing with Jesus - Moses and Elijah! How could this be?! Aren't those prophets long dead?!
Put yourself in Jesus' disciples' shoes - they're staring right at Moses and Elijah! But didn't they die hundreds of years ago?! Yes, but they live on! All because our God is the God of the living, not the dead! (Mark 12:26-27). My friends, don't let death grip your heart with terror (1 Corinthians 15:55). Trusting in God gives you assurance that you will be like Moses and Elijah - alive forevermore.
Jesus Christ had been praying and while praying his face changed and his body began to glow! The light was emanating from within Jesus, glowing outward. First his face, then his body and then his clothes lit up. Jesus' disciples used words that described it as if lightning was coming forth from Jesus. The luminous garments he wore were dazzling white - like pure snow. The glistening light was brilliant!
The transfiguration of Jesus revealed his true nature as the Son of God. The shekinah glory shown from the Son of God. God's glory was upon the mountain! It forces us mere mortals to shout, "All hail to Jesus' name!"
I've been mentioning the term, so I'd like to take a minute to offer a definition of shekinah glory. Shekinah glory is a visible manifestation of God's presence. The glorious phenomenon occurs when God visits his people. God's shekinah glory was witnessed at Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:9-18), in the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle, and inside Solomon's Temple.
Shekinah glory is a luminous cloud that descends upon the scene of God's presence. God speaks through the cloud with a thunderous voice. The presence of God strikes fear in man, immediately leading a man to fall prostrate before God. The feeling leading to the prostrate position is one of reverent fear, adoration, helplessness and total humility. The transfiguration of Jesus event was no different for the mortals involved.
No amount of pride within a man can make him stand against the shekinah glory. Pride flees from power and light of God's glory. The source of all power suddenly is made known to mere mortals and is too much to withstand. Fortunately, by God's mercy, he allows those who witness his shekinah glory to live.
Moses and Elijah were also shining, but their light was only a reflection from the Christ - God's shekinah glory was shining upon them. They were like the moon, while Jesus was like the sun. Jesus, Moses and Elijah then discussed Christ's approaching death in Jerusalem - the details aren't revealed to us. The transfiguration of Jesus was a board meeting between God's chosen leaders. Surely, strategy and encouragement were part of this intriguing discussion.
Peter, surprise, surprise, had to say something. He shouted, "Master, it is good of us to be here!" These three disciples, who were Jesus' closest friends, reveled in the moment. The Son of God?! Moses?! Elijah?! All together, standing in front of us? Wow!
Peter kept babbling, asking Jesus if he could build a tabernacle for him, Moses and Elijah. Jesus ignored him, but Peter was actually referring to the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:42), where the Hebrews would build tabernacles to celebrate God's provision for them in the wilderness after the Exodus.
Awkward, Peter, but he can be forgiven, because he simply expressed a long-held Jewish tradition that the coming Messiah would be the equivalent of Moses and Elijah, the representatives of the Law and the Prophets, respectively.
The words weren't yet out of Peter's mouth when a heavy, ominous cloud settled over them. Jesus' disciples were terrified. Out of the cloud thundered God's deep voice, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen. Listen to him!”
The scene at the transfiguration of Jesus was reminiscent of two prior moments in biblical history: Exodus 19:9, "Then the LORD said to Moses, 'I will come to you in a thick cloud, Moses, so the people themselves can hear me when I speak with you. Then they will always trust you.”'
Same for us in this transfiguration of Jesus event - we should always trust in Moses' words, which were given him by God (i.e. Genesis - Deuteronomy). We should also trust in the Prophets' writings (Joshua - Malachi), represented here by Elijah. Finally, we should always trust in Jesus Christ and the New Testament writings. The writings are ALL God's word to us, so we don't remain in ignorance (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Truly, as the saying goes - knowledge is power - especially in the case of God's word.
The transfiguration of Jesus was also reminiscent of Jesus' baptism, "After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased”' (Matthew 3:16-17). Jesus earned God's approval through his sinless life while on earth. He gained important victories over Satan at the temptation of Christ and the Father was affirming Jesus' worthiness to be our sacrificial Lamb.
The cloud then lifted and Jesus was left with the three disciples. The transfiguration of Jesus was complete. Jesus then instructed them to be quiet about what they saw because people wouldn't understand what they were saying. Their accounts wouldn't be believed, until after the resurrection and the coming gift of the Holy Spirit. He told them to rise because they had fallen in fear of the Father's glorious visit.
Jesus affirmed to them that he is their intermediary and will protect them from God's awesome and holy presence. That is an extremely important statement by Jesus. He will always defend his sheep against the wrath of God. Jesus is our faithful and just high priest. He will always stand between us and the Father.
God had a message for his Son, for the disciples and us, as well. He gave Jesus and everyone many important assurances through these wonderful truths.
The Father sent a loving message to Jesus, saying, "I'm here for you, My Son. You make me proud. The day of sacrifice is coming. Here, I send Moses and Elijah before you, to comfort and encourage you. I love you." Jesus Christ literally beamed with radiant, heavenly light at his Father's visit - God's shekinah glory shone through his Son! This is absolute evidence that Jesus is God and not mere man.
The transfiguration of Jesus sent multiple messages to the disciples, too - you and me included.
The first message is this warning from God: I am the Almighty One. Fear Me. Matthew 17:6 confirms the disciples did just that very thing, "The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground." A reverent fear will strike us when we stand before his awesome glory. You and I seriously need to heed this warning from God.
We need to start fearing Almighty God right now. This will happen at our personal Judgment Day, so you may as well work through it in your mind. Prepare yourself. Worship God in solitude now. Fall prostrate before God, pouring out your sinfulness. Fear God Almighty.
The second message God sent at the transfiguration of Jesus is this eternal truth: "Jesus Christ is truly God, my Son. My shekinah glory emanates from within him. My Son, Jesus Christ is GREATER THAN both the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah). Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the Law and Prophets! Listen to Him!" This is the call that goes out into the entire world, from God himself, "Listen to My Son, Jesus; or, perish."
Jesus' words are life, and ignoring them are death. Make sure you do this one thing in the remaining days of your life, READ GOD'S WORD. Listen to Jesus Christ. Respond to him. Obey him. The New Testament is the fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures. Read and believe.
The third message
God sent is this incredible truth: "Moses and Elijah are ALIVE! When
you believe in me, you will never die! James, Peter, John and everyone
else hear this fact: You can trust in me and live eternally with me.
Love me and my beloved Son and you will be saved from judgment and
death!" Resurrection power is found in God, but ONLY through his Son, Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:42-44).
The final message discovered in the transfiguration of Jesus is our blessed hope: Jesus Christ will return in his power and great glory, riding on a cloud from heaven (Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7). Ladies and Gentlemen, prepare to meet thy God. The time is drawing near. This Jesus Christ, who flashes lightning from within, will return and you must be ready. He will return in God's shekinah glory, surrounded by armies of his angels. God's glory will be with him and within him. Nothing will stand against his power.
You're ordered by God's word to give him your life now, before your soul is suddenly required of you (Luke 12:29-32).
The transfiguration of Jesus was an awesome display of heavenly glory. I literally broke out in praise when writing this lesson. I fell to the floor with a reverent fear of God's almighty power. The power of life rests in the hands of our great and eternal God. We need to trust Him with our souls.
He is the only One who can breathe eternal life into our spiritually dead bodies. You and I can stand with Moses, Elijah and the Disciples throughout eternity. We can worship the God of the living. How amazing is that?!
Tell Jesus now that you want to spend eternity with him in glory. Let the transfiguration of Jesus and all the accompanying glory settle into your heart. Let him speak to you. He tells us all to, "Come and follow me." Jesus doesn't ask, because he's our Creator and Savior - he commands (Matthew 6:33). Each of us need to drop what we're doing and follow him. Let's ease off our vain pursuits, making God our top priority. God have mercy on us all.
Next lesson: James Brother Of Jesus #2.17
Bible Study Questions:
1) Faith is the opposite of sight. The three disciples got to walk with Jesus and meet the Father, as well as Moses and Elijah. Are you able to believe their reports of this event, and other events? Or, do you have to literally see God before believing in him? See Romans 10:17 for guidance.
2) Meditate on what the disciples witnessed here at the transfiguration of Jesus. How do you think the truths they learned here aided them during their later persecutions after the resurrection of Christ? How does it help sustain you?
3) Jesus was transfigured as he prayed. Do you think that was coincidental? Do you believe this to be a strong statement about the power and necessity of prayer? Why or why not?
Inspirational Bible Verses:
The LORD replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.” Moses responded, “Then show me your glorious presence.”
The LORD replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh, before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” The LORD continued, “Look, stand near me on this rock. As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen.” Exodus 33:17-23
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Hebrews 1:1-3
For our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that I must soon leave this earthly life, so I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things after I am gone.
For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain [Peter's testament to the transfiguration of Jesus].
Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place. 2 Peter 1:14-19
For though we very truly hear that the kingdom of God will be filled with splendor, joy, happiness and glory, yet when these things are spoken of, they remain utterly remote from our perception, and as it were, wrapped in obscurities, until that day when he will reveal to us his glory, that we may behold it face to face. John Calvin Quotes
A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word "darkness" on the walls of his cell. C.S.Lewis Quotes
The radiance of the divine beauty is wholly inexpressible; words cannot describe it, nor the ear grasp it. Philemon
Prayers of Thanksgiving:
Dear Heavenly Father, Your glory is too intense for our physical eyes to behold. Your holiness alone lights our souls on fire, and burns up the sin found within our hearts. You are truly the God of the living. God let me be part of your heaven, your holy family. You are worth all of my sacrifices, and much more. Lord, show me my sins, so I can burn them at the altar. In Jesus' name. Amen
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