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Matthew 17:1-12

God's Glory in Us

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • April 3, 2011

In Matthew 17, we find the story of the transfiguration of Jesus. The glory of God is revealed in Christ Jesus, and Moses and Elijah appear and speak to Jesus as well. The disciples are there to witness the event as Jesus is transformed before them. The whole event declares the wonder and power of the glory of God. But the glory of God is also very personal for us, because, as we will see from the scriptures…God's will is to transform us, and the veil must be removed between us and God; we must come to Him in complete transparency in order to be transformed by Him.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

God’s Glory in Us

Matthew 17:1-12

The events of chapter 17 take place about six months before the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As we saw in our last study from Matthew, Jesus is preparing His disciples and telling them that it is necessary for the Son of Man to suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and be killed and then raised up on the third day.

In chapter 17 Jesus takes with him Peter and James and John his brother to a high mountain by themselves and there something absolutely amazing takes place before the eyes of the disciples, Jesus is transfigured before them so that His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.

What's also amazing is that Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus. We aren't given the reason for what happens here, but I think we can step back and look at several scriptures and gain insight into what God may be doing in Jesus Himself, and what He may be doing in the lives of the disciples and in our lives as well. We do know from the book of Luke that they were talking about His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

It seems as though Peter didn't know what to say, and maybe there was nothing he needed to say, but from the book of Luke we understand that when he began to speak, he didn't realize what he was saying. Peter said, “It’s good that we are here, let us make three tents, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

The scene that unfolds before the disciples suggests that it was also about the revealing of the glory of God. Moses would have been significant because he was there on Mount Sinai, in the presence of the Lord as a bright cloud overshadowed him, the Shekinah glory of God. Elijah would have been significant because he came in the Spirit of the Lord as a forerunner of the Messiah and his presence would proclaim the coming of the Messiah.

Jesus is transformed before them and the whole event declares the wonder and power of the glory of God. But the glory of God is also very personal for us, because, as we will see from the scriptures…

I. God’s Will is to Transform Us

  • Jesus is God's only begotten Son and God's glory in Jesus Christ is powerfully revealed in Matthew 17, and now we are God's sons and daughters by adoption and the glory of God will be revealed in us in transformation as well.

A. Into the image of God’s Son

  • There is something powerful that happens in the life of the believer in Jesus Christ. See what Paul says to the church in Corinth.

2 Corinthians 3:7-8, But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?

  • Paul says that the glory that comes into the Christian’s life is because the Holy Spirit is there in heart of the one who trusts in Christ.
  • The work of the Holy Spirit will then be to glorify Jesus Christ.

John 16:13-14, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

  • We all love to read Romans 8:28, but we need to see that it only makes sense in the context of verse 29.

Romans 8:28-29 We are being conformed into His image

B. The Holy Spirit is God’s presence within

  • God’s will is to transform us into the character, attitude, heart and actions of Christ in our lives.
  • So He gives the Holy Spirit in the heart of the believer to bring that transformation. This is very important to understand. Moses’ glory was fading when he was away from the presence of God, but we have the very presence of God within us by the Holy Spirit.
  • Paul tells us that Moses put a veil over his face so that his fellow Jews wouldn’t see that the glory was fading.

2 Corinthians 3:13, and (we) are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away.

  • But the Holy Spirit is an eternal well of life springing up within the soul.

John 4:14, “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

  • External changes then are seen in our lives when there is an internal glory, or fire, if you will, that comes from the glory of God’s Holy Spirit.

Illus – When Chuck Smith started reaching the hippies of the 60’s, he knew that if God could work on the inside, then the outside would follow.

Illus – the external shell of a kernel of popcorn cannot hold back when the inside has been heated and expands. In other words, the outside shell gives way to what is happening on the inside. In fact what was on the inside was much greater than the shell that was holding it back!

C. The Spirit of God uses the Word of God

  • God puts His Spirit within us to transform us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ, but how does that happen?

John 8:31-32, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

2 Corinthians 3:17, Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. NIV

  • Transformation is freedom from the lies of the past, from the oppression of worldly addictions.

Illus –The DNA I received from my father and back through all the way to Adam, He’s transforming to the DNA, so to speak, of God, “Christ in us the hope of glory.”

  • The Holy Spirit is the presence of God that brings transformation; He uses the Word of God in our lives to bring about transformation.
  • In other words, the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to transform us into the image of the Son of God.
  • We must have both the Spirit of God and the Word of God in order for there to be true and lasting transformation. Jesus told the Samaritan woman….

John 4:24, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

  • In other words, it’s possible to study the Word of God and not be changed at all.

App – The Holy Spirit takes the words of God and lifts them from the page and writes them on your heart so that you experience the truth of those words and experience the One who is the Word of God.

Illus – Someone gave Jordi and me a gift certificate at a nice restaurant and when we went there and sat down we received the menus, which we read, a waiter then came and explained the menu so we could understand it and then we left. Not at all! We're not leaving until we taste and are filled up.

  • You can read about how much God loves you and you can have a pastor tell you how much God loves you, but until you have experienced the love of God you will not be changed.

II. The Veil Must be Removed

  • The glory on Moses at Mt. Sinai and the glory of the believer in Jesus Christ are different.
  • Moses kept a veil over his face, but in Christ the veil is removed.

A. The Word of God is like a mirror

  • In Exodus 29 we read that the priests were to make a laver of bronze in which the priests were to wash their hands before the Lord.
  • Later we read that they made this from the looking-glasses, or the mirrors from the women.
  • The bible speaks about the Word of God washing us, so how appropriate that they would have the mirror that also represents the Word of God.

James 1:22-25 How to be a doer of the Word

  • How do we come to the Word of God so that the Holy Spirit writes it upon our hearts? Paul gives the answer to the church in Corinth…

2 Corinthians 3:18, But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

  • Moses used a veil because he didn’t want them to see that the glory was fading. People put a veil over their lives when they don’t want others to see what is really happening in their lives.

Illus. Can you imagine looking into a mirror wearing a veil?

B. We must come to God with no veil at all

  • When we come to God with a veil over our hearts, we separate ourselves from the work of transformation that God wants to do through the Holy Spirit.
  • We put a veil over our hearts when we don’t want God to see, and frankly, because we don’t want to see either.
  • Self-deception is a great danger. We hide from the truth when we have no hope.

Illus – When I was 18 and just starting out on my own, I let me checking account get overdrawn. Then I noticed that I didn’t open the letters from the bank. I didn’t want to know the truth.

Illus – There is an old saying, “There is none so blind and he who refuses to see.”

Zechariah 7:11-12, “But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing. They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the Lord of hosts.”

  • If we come to God with a veil and we are not willing to be real with God, there is no way that God’s Word can have any effect and we are not changed at all.
  • He is the Spirit of Truth and will only change us when we willingly desire the truth.

Psalm 51:6, Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being

C. Look intently at the Word of Truth

  • Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror.” That word means to look intently at what the Word of God is showing you in your life.
  • In James 1 when he wrote that we should not be like a man beholding in a mirror, he used a word that means, “a male.”

Illus – a man will only glance at a mirror, but a woman will behold in a mirror. Women may even have a series of mirrors they use to get started in their day.

  • Look intently at the glory of the Lord. Why is this so important? Because we are going from glory to glory. “We are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory,” Paul wrote.
  • Don’t be satisfied by staying in whatever place you are now, when God says that He has something so much greater for you. Be changed from glory to glory.
  • That happens when you behold Jesus and then His glory comes into your life because he is creating a relationship to you.
  • Look intently and see the glory of His Son.

Colossians 3:15-16, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you.”

Matthew 17:1-12     NASB

1 Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. 2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah." 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. 7 And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be afraid." 8 And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.
 
9 As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead." 10 And His disciples asked Him, "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?" 11 And He answered and said, "Elijah is coming and will restore all things; 12 but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands."
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