When God Speaks
This morning I want to share with you what I am about to share with my congregation at the Vineyard. It comes from the passage in Mark’s gospel chapter 9 where Jesus was transfigured on the mount.
Before I teach a subject I like to place myself in the situation. This passage is one of those passages where it is such an unusual situation that it honestly is beyond my imagination.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe it happened. I just have a hard time placing myself in the situation because it is so beyond the ordinary. It is a one-time miraculous incident that I have a hard time getting my head around it.
Maybe that is the whole point.
The transfiguration of Jesus is such a monumental event that it makes us stretch beyond our reasoning to understand and apply the principles in this passage.
So let me share with you the passage that I am talking about and hopefully, we all can learn something from this truly extraordinary event.
The Transfiguration of Jesus in the Bible.
New Living Translation (NLT)
1 Jesus went on to say, “I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God arrive in great power!”
2 Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. 4 Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus.
5 Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified.
7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.”
8 Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them.
9 As they went back down the mountain, he told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.”
11 Then they asked him, “Why do the teachers of religious law insist that Elijah must return before the Messiah comes?”
12 Jesus responded, “Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready. Yet why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be treated with utter contempt? 13 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they chose to abuse him, just as the Scriptures predicted.”
The Meaning of Transfiguration
Definition of TRANSFIGURATION
1 a : a change in form or appearance : metamorphosis
b : an exalting, glorifying, or spiritual change
2 capitalized : a Christian feast that commemorates the transfiguration of Christ on a mountaintop in the presence of three disciples and that is observed on August 6 in the Roman Catholic and some Eastern churches and on the Sunday before Lent in most Protestant churches
Lessons From the Transfiguration
I think we can all agree that this passage concerning Jesus being transfigured is one of the most remarkable events in the gospels. However, I think there are some principles that we can all learn from in this passage.
You see, Christianity is not just about fitting everything into our neat and tidy boxes. There are many instances where Jesus and the disciples say and do things that go outside of our comfort zones and this is one of those events.
So in order to learn from this passage you are going to have to let go of your need to place everything into a tidy little container and allow God to stretch you in what He does and what He is capable of doing outside of your human understanding and reasoning.
The kingdom of God coming in great power.
In verse 1 Jesus told the disciples that they would be seeing the Kingdom of God coming in great power before they died. I believe that the experience that they had on the mount of transfiguration was the fulfillment of that prophecy.
I do not believe that it was the only time they saw evidence of the kingdom of God on earth but it had to be the greatest evidence that they saw and experienced.
I am not going to get into all the theological ramifications of the appearance of Moses and Elijah but instead, I am going to try to give you some practical principles that you can apply to your life.
I think it is probably highly unlikely that you will ever have an experience like the disciples had so to elaborate on their experience seems like an exercise in futility.
What I think is important here is the fact that the disciples had an experience that was outside of their expectations and their frame of reference.
When the kingdom of God manifests itself in the lives of people it normally is outside their experience and they do not know what to do with the experience. Christianity is not only a faith that is based on evidence but it is also a faith that is experiential.
That means it is supposed to be experienced and well.
This is the case with what happened when Jesus was transfigured. They experienced the kingdom of God coming in great power.
What do you do when the kingdom of God is manifested?
When you are having an experience where God is moving and doing things outside of your frame of reference or your box that you have put Him in, what do you do?
Most people go off half-cocked like Peter did and start wanting to “do something”. Peter here thinks that they need to start building monuments to the experience!
How many churches, cathedrals, and denominations have been built because of an experience of God showing up?
I think it is human nature to try to make monuments and memorials to an experience of the kingdom of God being manifested. It clearly says in that passage that Peter said that because He didn’t know what to do.
Whether our experience is one of the spiritual gifts, or if it is of God’s providence or some other miraculous event, we seem to always want to make memorials and place that event or experience above the purpose of why the kingdom of God became manifest.
The question to ask ourselves is not what should we do, but why is it happening? There was a reason that the kingdom of God came with great power on the mount of transfiguration.
It was not just so God could show off. There was a purpose to it, and because of that, the question for us to ask is why not what. That is where most of us miss it, myself included.
The reason for the Kingdom of God coming in power on the Mount of Transfiguration was simple.
So many times we try to make our relationship with God complicated. We think that everything has to be so mysterious and mystical.
Notice what God said. “This is my beloved Son . Listen to Him”.
Short, sweet, and to the point. It was not some highly complex theological treatise or some huge system of learning that you had to follow to the letter. It was simple. Listen to Jesus.
The whole purpose of the transfiguration of Jesus on the mount was to get around the emotional and mental blocks that the disciples had and take them out of their comfort zone so that they would “listen”.
How many times has God had to take us out of our comfort zone and get us to a place where we would stop doing and start listening? How many times has he had to place us in situations where our only alternative was to hear from Him?
When the kingdom of God comes in power it is to get out attention so that we will refocus on what is important to God and not so that we can build monuments and memorials.
It is to once again get us to follow those 3 simple words. “Listen to Him”.
When you don’t understand what is happening, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
It is obvious that Peter and the others were still struggling with what they saw and heard. However instead of trying to do something that smartened up and started asking questions.
It is okay to ask God questions. If you don’t understand something before you dismiss it out of hand and say that it can’t be God, why don’t you start to ask questions?
The disciples were never rebuked for asking questions. Part of listening is asking questions.
Anytime I start having an experience that I do not understand, I ask questions. One of the most powerful and the most dangerous questions that anyone can ask is “God what is wrong with me?”. He will answer that question quickly!
However, it is a good question to ask at times and it is a good place to start when you are trying to understand what is going on.
The disciples started to ask questions so that they could understand what they had just experienced. If they can do it, so can you!
I hope that this study on the transfiguration of Jesus was a blessing to you. I hope it sheds light on how to respond when God shows up and speaks.
When God speaks, people should listen, not get busy. Let me know if you enjoyed this study. Your comments are a blessing to me!