Matthew 17:8-9 – A DIFFICULT THING TO TALK ABOUT 

In His Hand. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, FilterForge.org and MorgueFile.com

In His Hand. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, FilterForge.org and MorgueFile.com

I just realised I believe in the most extraordinary things. I have just read about Jesus shining like the sun, Elijah and Moses returning to a mountain and God speaking from a bright cloud. Bizarre! Even more bizarre; I believe it. All of it. I really do. I believe that it actually happened on a mountain witnessed by Peter, James and John and when it was all over, they saw that it was only Jesus that remained. 

I found myself praying this morning when I read about these amazing events. “It seems a little unusual to say that “when they looked, they saw only Jesus” (Matthew 17:8 NLT). When I look, so often I only see my circumstances and not always You, Lord. But here, this morning, in my study when I look I see only You and Your glory rather than the ordinary, the everyday, the mundane. 

As I begin this day, I need Your touch and Your Word to empower me. Let the past fade (Moses and the law) and the future find it’s way (Elijah and the prophets) but today I would see only You. Like the blind man You put Your spit mixed with dirt in my eyes and I open them to see the Light of the world (John 9:5). Only You. 

Sometimes I find it is difficult to put my faith into words and share what has happened to me. Peter, James and John must have wanted to say something but what do you say to people after seeing Moses and Elijah returned after a 1000 years and hearing the voice of God from a cloud, in the presence of Jesus shining like the sun? 

What do you say? Do you speak about the reality of an afterlife? Of spirits of the saints returned? Of how we are eternal beings? Do you talk about resurrection one day when we will have resurrection bodies? Do you talk about the end of the law of Moses and the fulfilment of prophecies in Christ? Do you talk about the death and resurrection of Jesus? Do you talk about what it means to encounter Christ in all His majesty? Do you talk about the presence of Christ being the most important person in your life? Will people think I am crazy? Probably. It’s difficult to talk about. 

It doesn’t surprise me that as You go down the mountain that You command them “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead” (Matthew 17:9 NLT). 

After the resurrection that’s what Peter did. He had to preface what he said by saying he wasn’t making it up. How do you start to tell of such an event? Peter did his best in 2 Peter 1:16-21 (NLT); “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 splendour with our own eyes when He received honour 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. 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—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.”   

Timing is always important to You, Lord. There is a right time to share the gospel message. I can only share it when the person You lead me to is ready to receive the truth about who You are. It’s knowing the redemptive moment. Even then the miraculous transformation that takes place in a person’s life when they come to know You is difficult to explain. And how do I explain some of the most extraordinary things that I believe from Your Word? I can only trust that the Spirit of God will reveal His truth (John 16:13)”. 

As I read my Bible He speaks to me. As I pray He speaks to me. It is almost audible. And today I can’t help but think of you, reading my blog today. Forget the intrusions from the past for a moment. Forget your anxieties about the future. Alone with only Jesus. It seems to me that He is also speaking to you, inviting you to place your trust in Him. 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 17:6-8 – FACING TERROR ON THE MOUNTAIN 

In His Hand. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and FilterForge.org

In His Hand. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and FilterForge.org

Terror wants you to be afraid of darkness and the light. Afraid of voices in the night. He pushes you to the ground and warns you to cover your face rather than be confronted with anything unknown. He is afraid that Trust will change you.

We had nowhere to run and Terror was forcefully persuasive about us collapsing with Fear. He is not really a strong person; just a little man who wields much more power than he really has.

That night Terror threw me to the ground when we saw the bright cloud, and heard the voice of God. He sniggered but it was a nervous laugh when he was confronted with Worship. Worship must have been working out. He is immense and in his company even Terror is intimidated. So much so that Terror stumbled backwards and fell himself.

When Worship reached out and touched me on the shoulder, I heard the words “Don’t be afraid!” and I saw the face of Jesus. Strange. I thought to be touched at this point, when my senses were flushed with the rush of adrenalin that it would scare the living daylights out of me, but somehow His touch and His voice immediately calmed all my fears and drove away the darkness instead. His voice sounded like His Father’s.

John saw Jesus again at Patmos, after He had ascended. He told me that once again “His face was like the sun in all its brilliance.” (Revelation 1:16 NLT) John said he fell to the ground at first but then found himself with Worship and Trust as Jesus said “Don’t be afraid”.

Paul once told me about his first encounter with the Lord. He said “… As I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is useless for you to fight against My will.’ “‘Who are You, lord?’ I asked. “And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting” (Acts 26:13-15 NLT).

When Daniel experienced an encounter with the Lord he told me he lost all strength and said “How can someone like me, your servant, talk to You, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly breathe.” Then the One who looked like a man touched me again, and I felt my strength returning. “Don’t be afraid,” He said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” As He spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to Him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for You have strengthened me” (Daniel 10:17-19 NLT).

Why did You come to us? Why did You touch us? Was it just to let us know it was You? You said “Don’t be afraid!” but I was shaking. I was Afraid but Your touch and Your voice changed my name to Courage. I feel a little more at ease with You not shining like light at this point, however. Lord speak to me. I am terrified, not of You, but of life-wasting pursuits.

Visions pass, moments in God’s presence fade into everyday life. Joy on a mountain gives way to a daily walk with Jesus who does not recede. He is always there. He never leaves me. In Jesus presence we need not be Afraid.

With the touch of Christ we can boldly enter into the presence of God (Ephesians 3:12). No man can come to the Father except by Jesus (John 14:6). With the touch of Christ we exchange our anxieties for His care (1 Peter 5:7). With His touch He invites us and empowers us to make a difference. In His Hands. 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 17:1-8 – STAYIN’ ALIVE

Stayin' Alive. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and FilterForge.org

Stayin’ Alive. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and FilterForge.org

I need to be interrupted, startled from the stupor of my wandering heart in order to really listen. I am all too willing to hear the voice of sleep in my early morning encounters drawing me away from the significance of prayer (Luke 9:32).

I am all too willing to listen to the voices of the past that meet me on the mountains of my vision, and listen to them, to take their lead, to live vicariously through their exploits rather than be challenged by difficult things of which Jesus speaks.

I am all too enthusiastic to give voice to half-baked solutions when faced with something I don’t understand, too eager to enshrine the holy moments of life in velvet coverings embroidered in gold and leave them in a drawer somewhere for remembrance sake.

So many voices haunt me from my past, call to me from the mirrored images of the present each morning, and dance around in my head with curious suggestions of what could be for the future.

Yet today I stand with Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John, Old Testament saints with New Testament saints as God says “Listen to Him”, because Christ is the only One able to interpret my past, present and future.

A voice comes with bell-like clarity from within the continually changing, mysterious, all-encompassing billows, from the intangible substance of a bright cloud (Ezekiel 1:4, Ezekiel 1:28, Exodus 16:10; 40:33, Exodus 19:9; 20:21; Ezekiel 43:2; 2 Chronicles 5:14).

I listen, prostrate on the ground, as the bright cloud envelopes us, and we are transported to another age when Israel was guided by the Shekinah glory. Cloud by day. Fire by night (Exodus 13:21, Exodus 40:34-38). The radiance of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in deepest harmony. Three in one. And we are drowned in His magnificent attendance.

“Listen to Him”. Not to the voices of the past (Moses or Elijah), not to voices of the present trying to enshrine the moment (Peter), but to Him who is the Word of God, and to His unlimited wisdom for every timespan (Jesus).

Hebrews 12:18-25 (NLT) says “You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai. … No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, … You have come to God Himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness … Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!”  

There are quietimes where I have experienced that strong, penetrating sense of His presence. Alone with Him as I walk or as I read His Word, or share His company. He continually urges me to listen to His Son and when I do, like saints of old, I pass in such close proximity to God that it is a miracle to have survived. Ephesians 3:12 (NLT) gives the reason for my escape “Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.” Lord, I come. 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 17:1-5 TRANSFIGURATION – Poem

© by Ross Cochrane

I need this startled interruption from morning’s stupor,
Shining, splendid, stark, splashed colours of the dawn, now
Drawing me and calling my wandering heart to prayer,
Yet somehow
While there,
I hear the voices of my past call me to come
And to re-live the darkness of their exploits, plum
Their depths once again,
And not tread heights that Jesus would allow my heart to climb.
Am I to disavow my destiny for such a stain?
Claim half-answers that come
From trying to enshrine more noble moments of my life?
A voice comes with bell-like clarity riding on the cloud
And I prostrate listen to it cut the air, two-edged knife
At once I let my hardened heart be ploughed
Drowned are all the sorrows of my strife
And in His radiant presence I am bowed.

Matthew 17:4-5 – THE RIGHT TO SPEAK AND THE CHOICE TO LISTEN 

Listening Button, by Ross Cochrane

Listening Button, by Ross Cochrane

He is always getting into trouble. He opens his mouth and it ends up being offensive and someone goes away upset or embarrassed. It’s not that he doesn’t think or listen. It’s just that he interprets things through the eyes of impetuosity, chauvinism or even racism. As a follower of Jesus he is maturing but he still has a way to go.

Because he thinks that he has something worthwhile to contribute he blurts out ideas and suggestions and that’s what usually gets him into trouble. I shouldn’t talk. Most of the time I am thinking the same thing, but don’t say anything.

I learn a lot from Peter’s impulsiveness although he embarrasses me and himself in the process. He speaks openly when he should listen. He is insensitive and tactless and later regrets saying anything at all. He is spontaneous but borders on recklessness. It’s not as if he doesn’t know others are listening. Classic foot-in-mouth. Unprompted theatre.

Benjamin Franklin said “Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” Peter maybe impetuous but his suggestion in this case is not stupid, just wrong. He may misunderstand the significance of what is happening but he is actively seeking to piece it all together. He will always remember that although he had the right to speak, he also had the choice to listen.

Having little experience of Jewish culture Peter’s suggestion seems odd to me, but apparently far away in Jerusalem there are many at present who are commemorating the Feast of Tabernacles. They build and live in make-shift shelters for a week to remember the Exodus when Moses led the Hebrews from Egypt; camping out in the wilderness before entering the promised land.

Shelters in the Exodus of Moses were necessary because although Israel was free from oppression, they were not free from their sin. They wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before they entered into the promised land because of their disobedience; their mistrust of God’s appointed leaders and their lack of trust in God’s provision. Their make-shift shelters spoke of their sin. 

Peter blurts out, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Matthew 17:4 NLT). But associating Jesus and these returned saints with Israel’s sin isn’t a good idea. On the contrary, Jesus death will lead people directly into the freedom of forgiveness and the promises of God. Milk, honey and grapes would have been better memorial symbols. 

“But even as Peter spoke, a bright cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My dearly loved Son, who brings Me great joy. Listen to Him” (Matthew 17:5 NLT).

Sometimes my words are the sound of a broken window and unfamiliar footsteps creeping through God’s truth like unwelcome guests. When such words presumptuously seek to break and enter into God’s territory, then He invites me to listen and obey Jesus. I have the right to speak but more importantly the choice to listen to His voice. I can receive the light of forgiveness rather than dwell in the shadows of the make-shift shelters of my sin. I can give voice to my shame and regrets, or choose to listen to the voice of His mercy. Lord, I’m listening. 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 17:1-5 – WHEN LISTENING FINDS THE RIGHT VOICE 

Listening. © Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and FilterForge.org

Listening. © Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and FilterForge.org

When Listening walks with a friend in the park or offers them a cup of coffee in a quiet bay window overlooking her garden she happens upon the most amazing stories. People are always willing to open up to Listening. She mirrors your movements as you speak to her and hears your heart. She doesn’t interrupt or tell you what you should do, but somehow at the end of the conversation you discover for yourself a pathway ahead. 

Listening has a twin sister called Hearing. Although they bear a strong family resemblance to each other, they are quite different. Hearing is distracted easily. She watches the News at night on TV but could not tell you what was said. She is more interested in the sound of your voice than in the conversation. She can sit with you but the sounds float around her head and she gets lost in the domain of imagination or in the pressing things she is yet to act upon. 

It is when Hearing becomes too emotional that she least resembles Listening. She parks in clearways and blocks the traffic with conversational narcissism; showing no interest in what you are saying. In her childhood she had trouble remembering and paying attention to what she was told. As a result her grades suffered and she developed behaviour problems. 

Being a child of Nurture, Listening makes her living as a Nanny. She takes hold of the sounds born into the world from anothers thoughts, and cradles them in nurturing arms, raising them into responsible maturity, and returns them to the conversations of life with Understanding. 

I found Listening at the beach when I wanted to give voice to my questions. She was gazing at the ocean waves rolling in. “Conversations are like the ocean” she said. She taught me how to surf, riding the noisy waves on a board called Perspective, deftly and sensitively responding to each rise and fall as the crests curled around us. My questions became less insistent as we made our way to the shore and by the time we had reached the sand the world once again almost made sense. 

Once, when I was walking through the city, crowded in by voices and traffic noise; just an anonymous face in a crowd, somehow Listening recognised me from afar, smiled and waved. She knew a quiet café to sit and talk. 

Sometimes it seems that Listening waits at the door for me to return home, and hearing the keys jingling as the door opens, anticipates my presence by being fully engaged and ready to hear how my day has gone. Listening looks me in the eye but sees beyond my words. 

Listening loves me. I see her often personified in the eyes of my wife as she greets me after a long day or in the mischievous smile of a grandchild who finds me in my study, gives me a hug, asks me a question and waits patiently with big eyes for my response. She is defined by relationship; family, friends and innumerable encounters, and she is nurtured with Prayer when my words remain unspoken and I begin to be attentive to the whispers of God. 

Prayer and Listening are mountain climbers. On a mountain they can stir my imagination, inform my opinions, hold me enthralled by exposing me to my deepest creative self, open me to new ideas, and make me expect more, reach for more and motivate my very being with appreciation or inspiration or worship. 

I was not surprised to find Listening climbing the mountain with Jesus and the disciples. When she saw Jesus shine like the sun and heard Moses and Elijah talking with Him about His exodus, she tried to help Peter interpret what was going on. But Peter had been asleep, and Prayer had remained with Jesus. It was only on waking that Peter learned that some conversations cannot be interpreted without Prayer’s access to heaven’s perspective. Without Prayer even Listening was unable to help. 

When Listening is directed to the voices of our experience, voices of our emotions, voices of our expertise or voices of our senses, despite her insights, she is still not suitable to interpret miracles or spiritual truth. 

On this mountain Listening is directed to a Person, the only One able to interpret the past, give voice to the present and fulfil the future. God’s voice whispers from the cloud, “This is My dearly loved Son, who brings Me great joy. Listen to Him” (Matthew 17:5 NLT). 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 17:3 – YOU ARE INVITED? 

You are invited! Image created by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and Filter Forge.org

You are invited! Image created by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and Filter Forge.org

Abraham: “Alright everyone. I have just been in conference with the Father. Jesus has already told His disciples that He is the Messiah.” A cheer goes up. “Yes, this is a high point in His life and so it’s not surprising that He has chosen a mountain to pray about how all this will unfold in the future when He goes to Jerusalem. As you can see, He has taken Peter, James and John with Him.” They look at Jesus climbing the mountain with His disciples and there is silence as they reflect on what Jesus must face soon in Jerusalem. “This is going to be a miraculous night and the exciting thing is that some of us are going to be included on the guest list.” There is a collective intake of breath that makes the mountain air even thinner for a moment. 

“Yes, two of us can go as representatives. We have been asked to make suggestions as to who can be included and who will not. It’s not going to be easy, but doing the right thing is important as you can all appreciate. There’s no room for bruised feelings here. Everyone of us hopes it will be us, but there’s just not enough room on that mountain to accommodate us all.” 

“So who would you invite?” 

Noah: “I think it should be Adam and Eve. After all Jesus is the last Adam. The Scriptures will testify that “just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22 NLT). They would have to go clothed of course. 

Abraham: “A good choice. Any other suggestions?” 

The Prophet Joel: “We need someone who will shine in the radiance of Jesus. Maybe some angels. Angels carry His light. After the resurrection there is going to be a great earthquake and an angel of the Lord will come down from heaven and roll aside the stone, and sit on it. His face will shine like lightning, and his clothing will be as white as snow. The guards will shake with fear when they see him, and they will fall into a dead faint” (Matthew 28:2-4 NLT). 

Abraham: “Great suggestion but no. The Father specifically wants two of us this time, not the angels. Love the idea of connecting this with the theme of light, though.” 

The prophet Amos: “Well, if we want someone to reflect the radiance of Jesus what about Stephen. Stephen’s face shone before he was martyred. Everyone in the high council stared at Stephen, because his face became as bright as an angel’s” (Acts 6:15 NLT). He literally reflected the light of Christ, the colours of grace.” 

Abraham: “Another great choice. But you forget. Stephen hasn’t even become a Christian yet. What you are seeing is in the future. We will need someone from the past; the Old Testament saints must be the ones to represent us. 

All sorts of suggestions come. “What about you, Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation?” Some say Isaac and Jacob? Others say David, whose throne Jesus inherits forever? What about Noah, Joseph, Nehemiah, Daniel? So many others were suggested but all of a sudden they are quiet again. They all know the guest list is limited to two. 

Abraham: “We don’t seem to be getting very far, here. Perhaps we ought to be asking ‘Who would Jesus choose? This is His day, not ours. Not the disciples. Not what the people want. Bottom line, who would He want to be there?” All are quiet for a moment. 

Elisha: “Well, Jesus has already told His disciples about prophecies about His death being fulfilled and even after His resurrection He will tell them again …everything written about Me in the law of MOSES AND THE PROPHETS …must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44 NLT). So maybe Moses and one of the prophets could go? Moses face shone when he came down from the mountain with the tablets of the law of God so that fits. He wrote the Pentateuch.” 

Joshua: “That makes sense. “There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10 NLT). He could hand to Jesus the Old Covenant and Jesus could usher in the New Covenant by handing it on to the disciples.” Everybody is keen about Moses being one of their representatives. 

Abraham: “OK, that’s one. Moses the giver of the law and leader in the exodus. That also relates well to the exodus Jesus must face. Who else?” 

Malachi speaks up: “I don’t think we have to look any further. I think I know who it is. God told me once “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives.” (Malachi 4:5 NLT). Who better than Elijah, guardian of the law. He has been in the mountain and heard the whisper of God. Elijah came to us in a whirlwind without tasting death. He connects us to the resurrection in the future.” 

Suddenly a light as bright as the sun appears on the mountain. Their attention is drawn immediately to Jesus. The Father has made His choice and “then two men, Moses and Elijah, appear and begin talking with Jesus. They are glorious to see. And they are speaking about His exodus from this world, which is about to be FULFILLED in Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:30-31 NLT).

Oh, and you are invited too, retrospectively into His presence then, now and always. But you’ll need to RSVP by responding in faith to Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:6-18 (NLT) says “… The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For HIS FACE SHONE with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. …If the old way, which brings condemnation, and was replaced, was glorious, HOW MUCH MORE GLORIOUS is the new way, WHICH MAKES US RIGHT WITH GOD AND REMAINS FOREVER! … WHENEVER SOMEONE TURNS TO THE LORD, THE VEIL IS TAKEN AWAY. … SO ALL OF US WHO HAVE HAD THAT VEIL REMOVED CAN SEE AND REFLECT THE GLORY OF THE LORD. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like Him as WE ARE CHANGED INTO HIS GLORIOUS IMAGE.”   

Pastor Ross

Matthew 17:2-3 – WHAT IS THE TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS ABOUT?

Supermoon. Photo image by Ross Cochrane.

Supermoon. Photo image by Ross Cochrane.

Matthew 17:2-3 – WHAT IS THE TRANSFIGURATION OF JESUS ABOUT? 

I struggle to get a number of photographs. Clouds are in the way but the light of the moon is spectacular at this time. A supermoon looks so much bigger and brighter because the moon’s elliptical path brings it closest to Earth. Of course the moon has no light of its own but reflects the light of the sun. It gets me thinking about that mountain miracle where Jesus is transformed into a searchlight of the soul and shines like the sun. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus and the disciples and they are all bathed in a magnificent array of the visible spectrum, as earth echoes the colours of heaven’s grace. 

The scene is reminiscent of “when Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant. He wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the Lord” (Exodus 34:29 NLT). It’s a little disconcerting when the acting prophet, priest and king is glowing like a lightbulb; the people were so afraid he had to cover his face with a veil. 

Now, over 1000 years later Moses once again stands in the presence of the Lord on a mountain. Why is it that Moses suddenly appears? Deuteronomy 34:5-6 (NLT) says Moses is dead and gone! “…Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, just as the Lord had said. The Lord buried him in a valley near Beth-peor in Moab, but to this day no one knows the exact place.” 

What is going on here? Is he here in spirit form? An animated hologram? A collective dream of the disciples? Does he have a resurrection body designed just for this occasion and if so where does he go after this conversation with Jesus? How did they know it was Moses? Nametag? Was he introduced. Were the disciples cowering in the cleft of some rock like the historical paintings of this scene or did they get to shake hands and say hello to Moses and Elijah? I have so many questions that the book of Matthew leaves unanswered, or is it that God didn’t think that these questions were the main focus? 

I’ve got a feeling the disciples were meant to be in on this conversation with Jesus, Moses and Elijah, not simply witnesses of this miraculous event. They were there as part of the miracle as so often we are meant to be participants in the miracles God works in our lives. 

In whatever form Moses appears, I can’t help thinking there is unfinished business with which Christ is dealing. Jesus is trying to tie up loose ends before He dies. Over a 1000 years ago, before Moses died God spoke to him “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have now allowed you to see it with your own eyes, but you will not enter the land.” (Deuteronomy 34:4 NLT) Was Jesus bringing him in now? Is this meant to be a happy ending for Moses? A postponed blessing, a thousand years hence? 

Elijah also appears. Matthew says “Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appear and begin talking with Jesus (Matthew 17:3 NLT). Luke 9:30-31 (NLT) adds “…They are glorious to see. And they are speaking about His exodus from this world, which is about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem.”  

In 2 Kings 2:11 (NLT) Elijah makes a dramatic exodus from the earth. “…Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven.” It is said that he never experienced death. If so, by the time of the transfiguration Elijah is over 900 years old. Is this meant to be a happy ending for Elijah too? A postponed blessing? Does he finally get to die after this or is he going to turn up again sometime? 

Jesus was gathering up the past with Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets, before embracing the future with the Cross. Did the law giving and the prophecies about Israel finally all make sense to Moses and Elijah? Did they finally have closure to the story? Moses, who wrote of creation and led God’s people from Egypt in the Exodus, now hears about the salvation Christ would bring to the world through His exodus. Moses who held the law of God meets the Word of God Himself. Elijah the prophet stands in the presence of Him who fulfils all prophecy. 

Peter had already acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah (Matthew 16:16). The disciples of the New Covenant now see Jesus who ushers in the new covenant in glorious light and He discusses His plans for the future with them all. 1 Peter 1:10-11 (NLT) says “This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when He told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and His great glory afterward.”  

Jesus face shines. This face that shines will soon become bloodied and beaten and eventually plunged into darkness. This sacred head of light will bear a crown of thorns. He will be spit upon and His white garments that ripple with light will soon be stripped off and divided among soldiers who gamble for them. The Word of God that is spoken on this mountain will soon end with the words He cries out on the Cross on Calvary’s mountain, “It is finished!” (John 19:30 NLT). 

The Mount of Transfiguration is the place where the past, present and future are sealed with the presence of God; a beacon on a hill announcing salvation to the world; a lighthouse of testimony and an invitation to us and all generations to place our faith in Christ. 

Pastor Ross

Supermoon. Image by Ross Cochrane using Depthy for 3D

Supermoon. Image by Ross Cochrane using Depthy for 3D

Matthew 17:2 – TECHNICOLOUR YAWN OR POEM OF LIGHT?

Opera House Mountain. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and ForgeFilter.

Opera House Mountain. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and ForgeFilter.

The mesmerising laser lights transform the city of Sydney into a dazzling spectacle of creativity each year. “Vivid” is a unique demonstration of imaginative possibilities. The world’s largest Art Gallery comes alive, a breathtaking canvas of creative expression, especially when the iconic Sydney Opera House sails become a palette for light artists.

Of course, even the incredible spectacle of Vivid has been accused of “superficiality, of ‘technicolor yawns’ and smartphone-toting happy snappers.” Others, however, describe it as “a poem written in light”. 800,000 visitors from all over the world are attracted like insects to this light, and the festival of Vivid continues to grow each year.

Vivid pales into insignificance when compared to that night when Jesus takes three disciples up on a mountain to pray. Jesus often goes up to a mountain at night to pray (Matthew 14:23-24, Luke 6:12) but this night is bathed in the vivid aura of a miracle.

A week earlier He had tried to tell them that “some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” (Matthew 16:28 NLT). The kingdom authority of God is about to grasp the vibrant promises of the past, embrace the raw immediacy of the present and infuse it all with shocking future intention.

Matthew 17:2 tries to describe what happens “As the men watch, Jesus’ appearance is transformed so that His face shines like the sun, and His clothes become as white as light.”  

There is no superficial lacklustre, no laser lights or money-making festival atmosphere, just a breathtaking spectacle as Jesus is inexplicably altered in His appearance. A bewildering, disconcerting disturbance of penetrating light explodes from within His being. Filled with transcendent significance, a light so vivid and unexpected that it consumes your senses like a purifying fire from heaven; a light that illumines the very recesses of the soul.

Hebrews 1:3 (NLT) tries to describe it; “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God…” When Jesus says “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life” He is saying that everything about Him is associated with light. More than analogy, this picture of light is based upon the reality of His being. Psalms 104:2 (NLT) says of the Lord, “You are dressed in a robe of light….” The gospel is the message of Jesus; a light shining in the darkness and here on a mountain the analogy is personified.

To witness this miracle changes a person forever. Many years later, John recalls this event: “…we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son” (John 1:14 NLT). Belief in Christ transfigures us. We are changed outwardly as the reality of what has happened deep within reveals itself. We are intended to be a palette of light painted on a mountain in the intimacy of relationship with Christ.

Paul contrasts this experience in 2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT); “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.” 

Is the transfiguration about transformation? Much more than that of course, but for now, Jesus is inviting us into His presence to be “the children of light” (Luke 16:8 NLT). Shining the light of Christ has to do with our character and changed values; integrity in Christ personified. When we know Christ, we shine that same light. Jesus says “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). 

We are not designed to live life in the colours of “superficiality, and ‘technicolor yawns”. Jesus invites us to be a “a poem written in light”. 

Pastor Ross

 

Coffee. By Ross Cochrane. Gouache and Marbling.

Posted: August 7, 2014 in Uncategorized
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Coffee! Ross Cochrane. Gouache and Marbling.

Coffee! Ross Cochrane. Gouache and Marbling.

Coffee! Ross Cochrane. Gouache and Marbling.

Coffee! Ross Cochrane. Gouache and Marbling.