Last year my mother had a cataract operation – a very common and hugely successful operation these days. Mum went into hospital one day, had the operation and got home the next day. She now only needs glasses for reading – a great success.
But you know, many more of us may need eye surgery… maybe our eyesight is getting bad and sometimes it’s only with hindsight that we can see 20/20.
How precious is our eyesight. I think it’s one of the greatest gifts that God gave us. Our eyes allow us to see the beauty that surrounds us. We can see the beauty of the creation, we can see the beauty of our family & friends. Can you imagine having a son or daughter, a mum or dad, and never being able to see them – not knowing what they really look like. Or not being able to see the blue sky or the green grass, or all the beautiful colours of the rainbow. Can you imagine what it would be to live in a dark world – a world without light – a world without sight.
Many of us may have perfect eyesight and yet we don’t see.
A theologian once said, “The eyes are the windows into our soul…” Our eyes, like windows, allow light to shine in. Both eyes & windows allow us to see what is outside. We need both. We need the capability to absorb what is on the outside – allowing it to come into our lives.
We would never build a house without windows. Not only do we need the light that shines in the window – but we need to be able to see out through the window – so we can see & experience a whole other world, outside our window…
In a similar way, our scripture this morning is another window that allows us to see our Lord Jesus Christ in a NEW WAY. It was on top of the mountain that through the Transfiguration of Christ, God allowed the disciples, Peter, James, & John to see Jesus Christ in His true identity as the Son of God.
Matthew tells us that Jesus: “was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as light…” This is a very interesting & symbolic description of who Christ really is because in the Gospel of John, Jesus describes Himself as “the light of the world…”
We know that in the natural world, light is necessary for the life & growth of plants, animals, & even human beings. It’s also necessary for spiritual life & growth. Many people refer to their spiritual knowledge & Christian journey by saying, “I have come to see the light” or “the light has shown upon me…” As if to say, they no longer live in darkness – but they now live in the light of Christ.
As the disciples followed Jesus Christ, Jesus often spoke to them, teaching them lessons of life.
Through His words, He often gave them words of warning about the corrupt & phony religious leaders of their day & time. He often gave them words about His true identity. And on many occasions, He spoke words about His departure. But words can only go so far. It’s obvious that the disciples didn’t comprehend everything Jesus was telling them.
It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words…
That’s why Jesus did a lot of His own ministry… He knew that a picture was worth a thousand words… That’s why He not only used words, but He used His hands.
In the presence of His disciples, Jesus healed the sick, He gave sight to the blind, He made the dumb to speak, & the deaf to hear… He fed the 5,000… He walked on the water…
He was painting pictures for His disciples to see, beautiful, powerful pictures, as if to say, “Don’t you see, I am the Son of God, I am Jesus the Christ… I am the light of the world… And I have come to bring sight to the blind.
But even after all of this, Christ knew that His disciples couldn’t fully understand His message… He knew that they needed another sign, another picture – So Jesus took His executive group, the inner circle of the disciples, and they take a short retreat to the top of the mountain to where there will be very little talking – but Jesus will paint one very powerful picture.
On the mountaintop, God reveals His ultimate Word, what John describes in his gospel as “the Word made flesh and dwelt among us.” The truth of that Word is revealed to these 3 disciples – the 3 who would become the anchors of the early church.
The picture that was painted for them, showed the full glory of heaven through Jesus the Son. For Jesus was revealed as the light of the world, His face lit up like the light of the sun, His clothes turned white as light and then suddenly, there standing with Jesus was Moses & Elijah…
Moses – the great Old Testament giver of the law.
Elijah – the greatest of all prophets.
Together – The Law & the Prophets.
If you read ahead to Matthew 22: 40, you’ll see that phrase… It was the common way that the Jews referred to the Old Testament – “The Law and the Prophets…”
What is the connection? What is the significance of this trinity – Moses, Elijah, & Jesus? Here we have the Law & the Prophets standing there talking to Jesus – the One who came to fulfil the law and the One who fulfils the words of the prophets. The picture painted for the disciples is the One who has come to fulfil the promises of scripture.
And as if that wasn’t enough – A cloud from heaven comes and from that cloud, God Himself speaks saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
This was just too much for the disciples. They couldn’t believe what they were seeing, but when they heard the voice speak from heaven, the Bible says, “they fell to the ground and were overcome with fear…”
Do you blame them? I think you and I would have been overcome with fear also. This story is really hard for us to imagine… It’s easy to read, but hard to comprehend…
So just imagine what would happen if God showed Himself to us this morning. Imagine coming into the church, greeting each other and then quietly praying to yourself for God’s presence. And then suddenly, in the middle of the service, out of nowhere, comes this great bright light – a blinding light that fills the whole church…
All you can see is this great, bright, shining light… And then, out of nowhere you hear this powerful voice speaking to you…
What if God really showed up here at Kilmory/Lamlash one Sunday… What would we do?
Well, I have to tell you that:
GOD IS HERE! To be seen. To be heard. And to have His touch felt.
Can you see the picture? Christ – A sight for sore eyes! What we have before us is the powerful picture of the real love of God.
And it’s only when we see the whole picture or the Holy picture, that we will have Christ in our lives… a Christ who reaches down & touches us…
In verse 6, when the disciples realized what they were seeing & hearing, when the true picture of Christ was revealed to them, the Bible says, “they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid…”
Jesus touched them. Researchers today believe that our sense of touch is important. They suggest touching and hugging as a form of therapy, which appears to give us health & well-being.
I don’t know if Jesus actually hugged the disciples, but the Greek word for touch means an intimate feeling – it also means to light, to kindle & to heal. So when the disciples were touched by Jesus, their hearts & souls were kindled with the light of Christ. They were healed, their fears were removed & they could rise with confidence.
Every time Christ reaches out & touches us, in a sense, He is transfiguring us – from what we are, to what He would have us be.
Transfigure means to change – When we are touched by Christ, His touch changes us.
Can you see the picture? Isn’t it a sight for sore eyes? But there’s something else ….
Not only is Jesus Christ the Word made flesh, not only is He the Son of God, not only is He the Holy Master of our lives – he is our friend.
When He reached down & touched the disciples, verse 8 says that, “when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus…” Think of this as a picture of friendship. When they looked up, all they saw was Jesus, clothed again in humanity. The cloud was gone, Moses & Elijah were gone. No voice, No light… Just Jesus, their old friend.
He helps them to their feet & together they head back down the mountain. They had walked up the mountain as friends & now they walk down as friends… except… as they walked down the mountain, the disciples knew the truth…
That the Messiah is their personal friend…
That he God is their personal friend…
It’s the picture of truth. Jesus said in John 15: 15, “No longer do I call you servants… but I call you friends…”
What a friend we have in Jesus. Not only is He Holy, He is personal. He knows us & He wants us to know Him.
And for each of us God will paint a different picture:
There are those who don’t know who Christ really is. They have heard about Him, and have ideas but they haven’t really seen Him as their personal Lord & Saviour, or as their friend. They will see one picture.
Or maybe the picture is for those people dealing with some problems where life has overwhelmed them and they just can’t see how it’s all going to work itself out & be okay.
And yet another picture for those people feeling a sense of loneliness, searching for “something” that will bring fulfilment in their lives. Maybe they know that they are not living the life that God wants them to live.
And again a picture for some who just feel disconnected. Perhaps they are searching for a place to call home, a place where they can be surrounded by the love of Christ, a place where they can fit into the family of faith.
Whatever is missing in our lives, Jesus Christ can fill that void. That’s exactly what He came to do – That’s His mission – That’s the picture God wants us to see.
Let us open our eyes to see God’s picture and say, “Thanks be to God!”