A True Story of Glory
Transfiguration of Our Lord
Sermon on 2 Peter 1:16-21
A True Story of Glory
1. It happened to strengthen Jesus
2. It was written to strengthen you
Text: 2 Peter 1:16-21
Way up high, beyond earshot and eyesight of the others, something spectacular happened. Suddenly his face began changing. It was glowing, like they had heard happened to Moses when he was on Mount Sinai. His clothes were suddenly dazzling. They were whiter than these new white paraments here at church, whiter than any amount of ERA, Tide, or ALL could ever make them. His clothes were so bright they were like a flash of lightning.
As Peter, James, and John woke from their sleep to see this magnificent sight, they also saw two others with Jesus. It was Moses and Elijah! The two greatest prophets in all of Israel’s history! They were right there in front of them, talking with Jesus!
With knees knocking and sandals shaking, they then found themselves enveloped in a great cloud, a cloud of glory. A voice thundered from this Majestic Glory and pierced their ears with these words, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
What a sight! It sounds almost unreal doesn’t it? It sounds like a great piece of fiction from Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars. It sounds like something you would see in the theater, graphics made on a Mac with CGI. It sounds like an old wives tale. It sounds like a campfire story.
But it’s not! It’s not any of those things. Peter says in the first verse today: “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” This is the real deal. This really happened. Peter was an eye- and ear-witness of the transfiguration. This is A True Story of Glory.
It’s hard for us to imagine what happened on this mount of transfiguration. But it is even harder for us to comprehend what exactly was looming in the near future. When this event would finish, Jesus was going to march down that mountain and make his way for Jerusalem. There the unimaginable was waiting for him.
As true God, Jesus knew everything that was about to take place. He knew that his own disciple would betray him with a kiss while the others fled in fear and even denied knowing him. He knew that he would be blamed and defamed, accused and then abused. He knew that the lashes of the scourge would shred his back. He knew that the crown of thorns would sink into his skull. He knew that he would be beaten and battered, bruised and bloodied.
He knew that he would be nailed to a cross and suspended in the air. He knew that the pain on the cross of fighting blood loss, suffocation, and bodily shock would be excruciating. But he also knew that the spiritual pain waiting for him would be far worse.
Jesus knew that he would carry all guilt. He knew that the feeling you get when you feel sick to your stomach or burdened and heavy because of something you have done—he knew he would feel that guilt the world over. He knew he would carry all sins. He knew that every wrong and every evil of all people of all time would be placed onto his own shoulders. He knew that the burning and seething wrath of his Father would be focused on him as his Father would turn his back to abandon him for hell because of our sins.
As true God Jesus knew all that was waiting for him. But as true man, he knew he would actually feel and suffer every bit of it. We cannot fathom that burden of knowing what would come. It’s no wonder that as the moment approached he sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane.
We cannot fathom it, but the Father did. The Father knew what was coming for his beloved Son. The Father knew that it would soon be the most important moment in the history of the world. The Father knew that the salvation of an entire world depended upon his Son. Thus the Father knew that his dear Son needed encouragement.
So he brought his Son atop a mountain with his closest friends. He surrounded him with the glory that he had left behind in heaven. He brought in the “big guns” with Moses and Elijah to spur him on to complete what they had prophesied. And he gave honor and glory to his Son as he spoke from heaven with power and with pride, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
The Father was strengthening his Son. The Father was encouraging his Son. The Father was preparing his Son for what was waiting down the mountain—preparing him for suffering; preparing him for carrying all of our sins; preparing him for paying for our sins; and preparing him for death.
This is not fiction. This is not a fable. This is A True Story. Peter himself witnessed it. He records what really happened on this mount of transfiguration. This is A True Story—A True Story of Glory that happened to strengthen Jesus for his mission of saving us from our sins.
The story of the transfiguration is incredible. Sometimes it seems to be very literally just that in-credible—hardly real. Like many other Bible stories, it seems almost hard to believe to the world. Think of stories like the parting of the Red Sea with Moses, the sun standing still for a day with Joshua, Jonah being swallowed by the big fish, Jesus walking on water, Jesus calming the wind and the waves. To the world around us it all seems like hogwash. To the world it is no different than Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars. “It’s a fantastical story with a nice message to it.”
Have you ever found yourself debating that with others before? They wonder how all those stories could possibly be true. They wonder how the rules and laws of science could be shattered so often. They wonder why you waste your time believing in some fairytale. They wonder why you waste your time on Sunday mornings. “You could be at the beach! You could be sleeping! You could be spending time with your family! Go to church? For what?”
This is the thinking of the world around us. And Satan loves to use it against us. He just loves to plant little doubts and wonders in our minds. He works through the Jehovah’s Witnesses who so often come to our doors here in Palm Coast and spread blatant lies that sound kind of like truth so as to make us wonder what’s really true. He works through the garbage on television as we catch little bits of conspiracy theories on the Discovery Channel or the History Channel about why the Bible isn’t true or is missing “lost books.” Satan works through your own weakness of faith as he whispers questions in your ear: “Is it really worth it?” “Are you sure this is true?” “What if heaven isn’t waiting for you?” “What if Christianity is nothing and just useless?” “What if the Bible really was just made up by a group of people over time to help with our insecurities?”
Suddenly we are left wondering. Suddenly we are unsure. We may confess with our lips. We may even believe with our hearts. But in the back of our minds we wonder, “Am I just wasting my time here?” “Is this stuff even real or true?”
This is exactly why Peter wrote these words! Listen again to the first verse: “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” These aren’t just made up stories! This isn’t just fiction! Again, Peter and the others were witnesses to this event and to many others. These are things that they saw with their own eyes and heard with their own ears. These events of the Bible may sound incredible, but that’s because God is involved. Yet we know they are true because humans witnessed them.
The Bible is true, real, and accurate. From the words of the prophets in the Old Testament to the words of the apostles in the New, it is all certainly true. Why do we know this? Verse 20: “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never hat its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
The Bible writers didn’t just make this up. They didn’t just say, “You know, I think today I’m going to write some Scripture today. We’ll say it’s “from God” and we’ll fool everyone!” No! “Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” While each Bible writer wrote in his own style and with his own vocabulary, God the Holy Spirit was giving each the very words that they were to write. They wrote down what they saw and heard and witnessed, but God was the one who gave them the words to write. Thus, when we say that the Bible is God’s Word, it truly is God’s Word—forward and backward, from cover to cover, from beginning to end it is God’s Word.
That’s why Peter tells us to, “Pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place.” Since this is truly God’s Word, pay attention! Read it! Study it! Be around it! Listen to it! Learn about it! Memorize it! Sing it! Why? Because it is God’s Word, it is true, and it is the story of your eternal salvation.
The story of the transfiguration is truly incredible! But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. It is in fact very true. Matthew records it. Mark records it. Luke records it. Peter records it. Peter was even there. This is A True Story of Glory. It happened to strengthen Jesus on his way to suffer and die for our sins. But It was written to strengthen you and your confidence in God and his Word.
We have something that every person on the face of this earth needs. We have the truth. We have God’s Word, the true testimony and story of the salvation of our souls through the life and death of God’s Son Jesus Christ. Without this message, no one can be saved. So start today and do it every day. Be in the Word and share the Word—because it’s true.
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Posted on March 6, 2011, in Church, Sermons and tagged 2 Peter, 2 Peter 1, Church, Harry Potter, Inerrancy of Scripture, Inerrant, Inspiration, Inspiration of Scripture, Lord of the Rings, Sermons, Star Wars, Transfiguration. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.