Thursday, September 8, 2011

Jesus' Glory Revealed...Again

In two previous posts (here and here) we have looked at Luke's account of the transfiguration of Jesus - where the veil that hid his eternal glory was partially lifted and Peter, James and John saw him shine brighter than the sun. Peter wanted to stay on the mountain (Luke 9:33). Wouldn't you?

We haven't seen Jesus transfigured with our fleshly eyes like Peter, but have we not also experienced times of great blessing and glory in the presence of Christ? "Mountain-top experiences" of sorts, where we shared with a gathering of other believers a glorious time of worship and praise and word; times of joy before Jesus? We want to stay in that place forever. And one day we will! Believers will one day live in the glorious presence of Christ!

But until that Day, we have to come down the mountain.

This is exactly what happened immediately following the revealing of Jesus' glory on the mountain in Luke 9. It was time for Jesus and his friends to come back down. "On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him" (9:37). One of the reasons for coming back down the mountain is MISSION. There are great crowds of people who need Jesus! In heaven we will live in his glory uninterrupted, but in this life on earth we have a mission. We gather in local churches to behold the glory together and edify each other before scattering back into the world to minister to the 'great crowds.' We must come down the mountain and get to work.

But Jesus did not just see a faceless, nameless 'great crowd.' They were individuals to him. "And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, 'Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child" (9:39). A man "from the crowd." There are specific people with real needs in front of us. "For he is my only child;" hear the desperation in the father's voice! He went on to explain to Jesus that his son was tormented by "a spirit," which is later called a "demon" (v42). Jesus took the time to deliver and heal the man's son.

What was the response from the "great crowd?" "And all were astonished at the majesty of God" (9:43). Jesus' glory had been revealed on the top of the mountain. Now it is revealed again! The crowd did not see what Peter, James and John saw. But they did see Jesus demonstrate authority over the power of darkness, and they saw healing, flowing out of love and compassion. Glorious! In fact, what they saw Jesus do, they attributed to God. This is common in the gospels (Luke 8:39) and illustrates the divinity of Christ.

But we are not finished yet. Jesus' glory was seen on the mountain by his three closest disciples. His miraculous glory was then witnessed and admired by the great crowd when he came down the mountain. But Jesus wanted to make certain we knew that there was more glory - greater glory - still to come.
But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, 'Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.'" Luke 9:43b-44, ESV
Let these words sink into your ears! Jesus desires us to carefully listen to this point. He told his disciples about his immenent death on the cross - while the crowd was excited about his miracles! It's as if he said, "You think THIS is glorious? I'll show you glory; Wait till I am lifted up on the cross! THAT's where the glory will be most clearly seen!"

Jesus was not a rock star. He did not thrive on the applause of crowds. He had not come to earth to impress a 'great crowd' with a miracle, but to die for sinners on the cross. His mission was always on his mind.

His disciples could not understand these words (9:45); it was hidden from them until after Jesus rose from the dead. They were expecting a Messiah to come in kingly power and set up a very visible kingdom for Israel. How could the Messiah die? That's foolishness! And the message of the cross is still foolishness to men in their natural, unconverted state. But when God opens our eyes, the message of the cross is not foolish; it is beautiful, powerful, wise and glorious!
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ curcified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:21-25, ESV
Jesus was warning us not to stop short of the cross. Don't be satisfied with miracles and mountain-top experiences of joy. We can worship on the mountain and be astonished by a miracle...and still not be saved! Many are content with these 'glories' ('Jesus was a good man,' 'Jesus was a great teacher,' 'Jesus was a Prophet,' or even 'Jesus worked mighty miracles'). But salvation only comes when we see Jesus crucified and risen. Jesus is Savior and Lord!

Don't rest till you've seen the glory of the cross! It is at the cross, where the sinless Son of God died in the place of sinners to bring us to God, where God's glory is most clearly revealed.

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