Posts Tagged ‘Law’

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

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PART 1 – MATTHEW 12:1-3 – JESUS BROKE THE LAW! WHY CAN’T I?

Does Jesus Speed?

Not long ago I witnessed an ACCIDENT. A car ahead of me pulled out of it’s lane into a bus lane and collected the car that had been coming up from behind him in that lane. It left a sizeable dent in each car. Each morning as I travel to the Shalom Centre I see many people use Sydney bus lanes ILLEGALLY. It’s so easy and CONVENIENT to do. The temptation to save time and zip into a bus lane obviously overrides the possibility that a policeman will pull them over at the corner. Living on the EDGE! Is it worth the risk of 3 licence demerit points and $253 fine and progressive $50 fines until it is paid? It’s not! And I should know. But doesn’t Jesus break the law when it’s convenient?

In Matthew 12:1-2 isn’t Jesus just IGNORING parts of the law that He doesn’t like? Is He walking to the EDGE of the law to explore where the BOUNDARIES really are? Is He the kind of person who would drive past a policeman just over the SPEED LIMIT or leave it until the last second to get through the AMBER TRAFFIC LIGHT instead of stopping? Or drive in a bus lane?

Matthew 12:1-2 speaks about a time when “…Jesus was walking through some grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were HUNGRY, so they began breaking off some heads of grain and eating them. But some Pharisees saw them do it and protested, “Look, Your disciples are BREAKING THE LAW by harvesting grain on the Sabbath.” 

If it was me I would have said something like “What is your problem? Mind your own business! Who made you the Sabbath police?” Besides, the Law of Deuteronomy 23:25 (NLT) says “…when you enter your neighbour’s field of grain, you may pluck the heads of grain with your hand, but you must not harvest it with a sickle.” So they weren’t STEALING.

The problem is that the disciples are plucking grain on a SATURDAY. Saturday is the SABBATH, a rest day. Picking grain is viewed as work by the Pharisees even though technically the law only prohibited harvesting grain for PROFIT on the Sabbath. It’s not as if they were driving a Massey Fergusen tractor with a COMBINE HARVESTER on the back and setting up a CUT PRICE SILO SALE for the grain.

Jesus always seems to confront me with my LEGALISM and calls me to think carefully about my responses to God. There’s a difference between obeying God’s law and legalism.

“Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God, and they broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat.” (Matthew 12:3 NLT)

So can I break the law everytime it suits me? What about speeding because I’m late to work? I could try explaining to a policeman “Haven’t you heard that when it didn’t suit David to keep the law, he broke it? I have a genuine need, officer. Learn the meaning of the word ‘mercy'” I don’t think that this will go down well and even though it might be a genuine need, it wouldn’t stop me from getting a ticket and perhaps even a psychiatric evaluation.

So what is Jesus saying here? Where does it stop? What’s the point where I am no longer on the boundary but well and truly OVER THE EDGE? Sometimes we view the law as UNNECESSARY simply because in our sinfulness, we don’t want to obey it. That’s NOT what Jesus is advocating!

I don’t believe Jesus is saying that it is OK to DISOBEY THE LAW if you have a genuine need or if others have a genuine need, but I keep reading commentaries that say that genuine need makes it OK for Jesus to break the law!

An AMBULANCE DRIVER will speed legally in order to get someone to hospital, but he is breaking the law if he does it any other time. Same ambulance. Same driver. Same speed. Different purpose. Obeying the law depends on fulfilling the PURPOSE OF THE LAW.

Jesus is saying “The real PURPOSE or SPIRIT OF THE SABBATH LAW allows for MEETING GENUINE NEEDS without disobedience being an issue. You DISOBEY the Sabbath Law when you merely go through a ritual, perform a ceremony and adhere to a regulation. That is not the PURPOSE or spirit of the Sabbath law.”

Did Jesus break the Sabbath or did He show what keeping the Sabbath law was really all about? Matthew 5:17-20 (NLT) “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to ACCOMPLISH THEIR PURPOSE. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the SMALLEST DETAIL of God’s law will disappear until its PURPOSE is achieved. …”But I warn you-unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!”  

1 John 5:3 (NLT) says “Loving God means KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS, and His commandments are NOT BURDENSOME.”   

Jesus didn’t BREAK THE LAW! He invented it! He lived by it, and fulfilled it perfectly. The Pharisees broke it by not understanding the purpose of the law and by applying it wrongly.

God bless you Church as you “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby FULFILL the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2 NASB95)

Pastor Ross