It is no accident that Christ experienced the Transfiguration in Mathew 17. This is a mountaintop experience above all mountaintop experiences. It happened right after Jesus’ first explicit teaching of his upcoming arrest, crucifixion and resurrection in Mathew 16:21. Suffering, spiritual power and glory are always held and experienced in dynamic tension within a Christian life that is truly authentic.
The Way To Glory Goes Through The Cross
The Apostle Paul demonstrates this dynamic tension in his personal testimony found in Philippians 3:10: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death”. In order to come to know Christ in a deeper way, we both need the spiritual power of the resurrected Christ in our lives, and a willingness to trust the Lord as we face the inevitable trials of life.
In her book, “Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things”, Sara Hagerty recounts the journey that both she and her husband have been on in their lives and marriage. Early on in their married life, they saw a real need for the Lord to be more at the center of their marriage. They were grating against each other like sandpaper. They both, unknowingly to each other at the time, prayed that they would come to know the Lord in a more intimate way.
God answered their prayer powerfully. But it came through the way of the cross, as it always does. They came to know the Lord deeply as they learned to trust the Lord in business struggles, infertility and a family health crisis. They experienced the Lord in powerful ways that transformed/transfigured them and their marriage.
The Power, Glory And Sufferings Of Christ
Jesus was transfigured on the mountain before 3 of his disciples and in the company of Elijah and Moses. In Luke’s version of this event, it says that Jesus, Elijah and Moses were talking about Jesus’ departure which he was about to bring to fulfillment in Jerusalem (Luke 9:31). In the original Greek, the word for departure is the word for exodus.
In other words, Jesus was talking about the great deliverance or final exodus that he was going to win for God’s people. The way of victory over sin, death and demonic evil would come through the suffering of the cross. The cross never lies across the way of God but always along the way of God in this world.
Even though Moses and Elijah needed Joshua and Elisha to finish their respective ministries, Jesus would not need a successor to carry his ministry to full redemption and resurrection. He would succeed where Israel failed in being a light unto the nations.
He would succeed in not only saving believing Jews, but also believing Gentiles (Isaiah 49:6). He would make possible, through his sacrificial death on the cross, a new covenant in which God would indwell believers through the Holy Spirit. Christians are empowered from within for obedience and mission.
God is a gracious and wise God. He knows that as we travel in this world as pilgrims following Jesus, we will inevitably encounter trials and tribulations. Some are common to all human beings, some are unique to faithful followers of Jesus. The Lord promises to be with us to the very end of the age and he gives us mountaintop experiences along the way.
Experiencing The Transfiguration Today
This past Thursday, the Pastors of the Western Zone of the Church of the Nazarene met for mutual edification and encouragement in London Ontario. As we worshiped the Lord in song, heard a devotional from God’s word and prayed for one another, the presence of the Lord came powerfully upon us.
We gave praise testimonies as well as burdens. And there were many burdens and tribulations that were shared. The Lord’s presence was powerful. We all came away believing that the indwelling Spirit transfigured our group. We were sent on our way encouraged and edified to meet the challenges down on the plain of everyday life.
May God deliver us from a superficial knowledge of Lord Jesus Christ. May the cry of our heart be to know Christ in the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings. May we trust the Lord especially when the going gets tough. Nothing matters in life without the center being Christ.
QOTD: Is it my heart’s cry to know Christ more intimately, more deeply and more powerfully, no matter what?