In this sermon, we are going to look at the real meaning of the transfiguration of Jesus in the bible.
But before we go into this sermon, let us look at the bible passage where we have the story of the transfiguration.
Bible verse about the transfiguration.
Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, brought them up on a high mountain by themselves, and was transfigured before them.
His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them talking with Him.
Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out from the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”Mathew 17:1-5
Symbolism of the transfiguration in the bible.
1. Peter, James and John.
Peter, James and John went with Jesus as the three witnesses needed to confirm the fulfillment of God’s purposes in the lives of His two servants and only Begotten Son.
2. The mountain.
The mountain as always symbolizes God’s contact point with human beings.
3. Jesus face becomes white.
Jesus being transfigured till ‘His face became as the sun and clothes as white as light’ symbolizes the Holy Spirit which God, through Him, will give to the people.
So they could obey the law since the prophets were unable to make people obey the law as they should.
That was why God promised beforehand through the mouth of one of the prophet:
“I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will keep my judgments and do them.Ezekiel 36:27.
4. Moses and Elijah.
Moses represents the old law, while Elijah represents the prophets, who after Moses, were commissioned to be watch dogs of the law to the people i.e. it was their duty to keep people in remembrance of what the law says.
The prophets here also acts as witnesses to what God was about to fulfill, since He has revealed it to them beforehand.
Surely the LORD God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.Amos 3:7.
5. 3 tabernacles.
The three tabernacles Peter requested that they build symbolizes the institution of both the Old and New law.
In other words, Peter meant that the Old law must still stay with the new law which is about to be established.
But God showing His disapproval with Peter’s intention immediately spoke from heaven saying, “this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”
And what He clearly means is that people should no more listen to and obey the laws of Moses or the teachings of the old prophets. Rather they should listen to and obey the laws and teachings of His only begotten Son, Who can now be seen as the new law and prophet.
” He takes away the first that He may establish the second.Hebrews 10:9.
Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Greater Prophet.
And please, let us never forget that God had already made this known to Moses himself:
‘I will raise up for them a prophet like you among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. ‘And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My Name, I will require it of Him.Deuteronomy 18:18-19
And incase people will fail to realize that Jesus was the prophet He spoke about, He later revealed to Peter who made it known to us in Acts 3:19-23.
Significance of the transfiguration in the bible.
Beloved, I don’t want us to be ignorant of how the laws of Moses and teachings of the prophets are no more effective and why we should not obey them.
Since most people have misinterpreted this to mean that human beings should no longer obey the Ten Commandments given to God by Moses.
And all the other laws and the teachings of the prophets that are found in the Old Testament.
Most of them end up saying that the Old Testament is called old because it is outdated.
But let me bring us to the knowledge of what laws we should ignore in the Old Testament; by revealing to us the significance of the transfiguration in the bible.
1. People used to struggle to obey the laws of Moses.
One of the significant things in the Law of Moses was that people used to struggle to obey the laws by themselves which of course they couldn’t.
And because of this they made it a point of duty to offer endless sacrifices as a means of making atonement for those sins they kept on committing.
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? the worshippers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins.Hebrews 10:1-2.
2. There was no mercy shown in the breaking of the Mosaic law.
The second significance was that there was no mercy to be shown in the Mosaic law, which means once anybody is caught and two to three witnesses comes up to testify against him, no amount of pleading will help the punishment that goes with his crime to be reversed.
“One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.Deuteronomy 19:15.
3. Imperfect human beings were the ones judging themselves.
The last but not the least significance was that human beings, who themselves were not stable; used to preside over judgment as witnesses and judges; to condemn those who were guilty, most of whom they were worse than.
“For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.Mathew 23:5.
3 Things that sum up the Christian laws.
So these were the matters of the laws that were to be done away with; and replaced with the three facts below that sums up the Christian laws.
1. The Holy Spirit is given to those who repent.
Those who will believe in the teachings of Christ and repent will be rewarded with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.Acts 2:38
And this Holy Spirit, as we observed earlier; will dwell in the believer’s conscience and helps him to obey all the laws and commandments of God.
And this means that the converted believer will no longer have to be going to God every now and then; to offer sacrifices as a means of atonement. Since it is God Himself that dwells in Him and does everything.
For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.Philippians 2:13.
2. Unintentional sins will be forgiven by God.
But then if these kinds mistakenly fall into any occasion of sin and on realizing their fault begs God for forgiveness, they will immediately be granted mercy through Christ Who will plead on their behalf.
My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 1:1).
Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is He Who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also makes intercession for us.Romans 8:33-34.
3. People will be judged and witness on the last day by
And finally those, who after repentance, keeps on disobeying the laws and teachings of Jesus; will need no human witness and judge to condemn them physically on earth.
But rather they will all be witnessed, judged and condemned on the final Day of Judgment; by the One commissioned by God to do so, even our Lord Jesus Christ.
For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery imagination which will devour the adversaries.Hebrews 10:26-27
Permit me to outline the message in the writings of one of one of our apostolic father; ‘the shepherd of Hermas’ which makes the last two point above more understandable. It says:
“but as for those who have been called to faith, and since that have fallen into any gross sin, the Lord had appointed repentance, because God knowest the thoughts of all men’s hearts, and their infirmities, and the manifold wickedness of the devil, who is always contriving something against the servants of God, and maliciously lays snares for them.
Therefore our merciful Lord had compassion towards His creatures, and appointed that repentance, and gave unto me the power of it.
And therefore I say unto thee, if anyone after that great and holy calling shall be tempted by the devil and sin, he has one repentance. But if he shall often sin and repent it shall not profit such a one; for he shall hardly live unto God.
Now the one repentance in the above writing does not literally mean ‘one time or occasion’; but rather can be understood in the illustration below.
An illustration of how forgiveness occurs.
One day, someone steps on your toes in your place of work; you unknowingly pick a quarrel with that person, raining curses and abuses on her; and finally leave for home in annoyance.
And on reaching home you find out that the devil has cause you to act against the way a Christian sister should.
So you go down on your knees and beg God for forgiveness; promising never to let such an act repeat itself again.
But when you go to work the next day, the same lady or perhaps another; repeats the same attitude that caused you to quarrel and sin the other day.
And just then the Holy Spirit brings the incidence of the other day to your mind.
Now if you obey the voice in your conscience and quietly walk away; or beg the person to please let peace reign, you have had the one repentance the above writing says.
But if you disobey and start cursing and abusing the person again; then that is the often way of sinning that will never profit you.
And finally we can all come to the understanding that we must all keep the laws and teachings of Moses and the prophets which are all rightly fulfilled in the laws and teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles.
That was why Jesus Himself, Who wishes that we all know this truth about the transfiguration in the bible, concludes in Mathew 5:17-19:
“Do not think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets, I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. “for assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot of one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
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