Seeing and Hearing God in His Word
Matthew 17:1-9 - Transfiguration Sunday - Jan 25, 2015

Dear believers in Christ, Baptized of God,

May we be strengthened today in the hearing of God’s beloved Son, in whom God is well pleased. May your hearing of His Word be a blessing, and be for the strengthening of your faith. May God’s Spirit work through that Word that we hear today, and may it be our light, our guide, our hope, our strength. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

“All I want is to be able to see God.” Surely we can identify with that feeling. We think it would be the greatest thing in the world. And is it such a bad thing to desire? All believers will see God, in all His glory, face to face, in heaven. But not until heaven. “Well I want to see Him now.”

That’s the struggle. There’s the conflict. We could even rightly call it a cross. Because at times, that’s all we want to do, is reach out and touch God. Yet, we walk by faith, not by sight, Scripture says. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

God says He will always be with us, never leave nor forsake. He will always be our guide, our strength, our everything. There’s just one catch (one problem): We can’t see Him. We can’t reach out and touch Him or give Him a hug. Our greatest leader, our greatest hero is…completely invisible. And so the wisdom of the world says, “If I can’t see Him, He must not be there.”

But the important thing, is that He gives us what we need. And what we need, we find in His Word. Faith cometh by hearing, hearing by the Word of God. Peter, who saw God’s great glory, and trembled, says, “We have a more sure Word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place.” We have the one thing needful. And it is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

Interesting how, even in the midst of Jesus showing His great glory, God the Father reverts back to His tried and true method, His Word: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.” Hear My Son. Hear His Word. And we do find rest and peace in our soul, in His Word. Jesus says, His words are spirit, and they are life.

And we remember in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man begs Abraham to send someone back from the dead, and then surely his family will repent and believe, and he responds clearly, they have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.

And the wisdom of the world will continue to deny it’s power. “We gotta have something more than God’s Word. Something more exciting, something more entertaining. Something that’s more of a proof of God’s existence. Something that we can measure in a lab. Something that’s gonna knock our socks off. Surely something more than just words, preaching, and teaching, and Baptizing - water and more words, the Lord’s Supper, bread and wine, and more words.

But what’s interesting is that Peter, James, John, did finally get to have something more. Jesus shined like the sun. And they couldn’t handle it. God’s full glory and power are simply beyond us. Who can stand directly before Him, and withstand it? At the burning bush, “Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” When the Angel of the Lord came to announce Christ’s birth to the shepherds, they were sore afraid. When Jesus was transfigured, and His glory shined brightly, Peter, James, John all fell on their faces, and were sore afraid. And we learn why, from Adam and Eve, who after the fall into sin, hid from God. They were afraid, because of sin, shame, guilt. Yet, that is exactly why Jesus came, to take our sin and guilt away.

We notice that Jesus did not condemn the disciples. He says, arise, and be not afraid. Because of our sins against God, we do deserve fear and punishment. Yet, Jesus came to go to the cross for us, and to remove our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. He came to remove our fears, and replace them with peace and joy in believing.

Arise, and be not afraid. God will grant to us a glorified body in heaven, completely pure, spotless, without sin, no more pain, no more sorrow, only joy and pleasure forevermore. God will give us a glorified body, much like that of Jesus’ body that shined in the Transfiguration, much like that of the glorfied bodies of Elijah, and Moses that appeared with Christ.

What proof do we have of that? What physcial evidence is there that we can measure? There is none. Only this: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.” And that is all that we need.

How fitting that Moses and Elijah were there (Christ was the fulfilment of the promises God spoke through Moses & Elijah), and we hear in Luke, that they were discussing Christ’s death and resurrection. That is the great glory of God.

One might think that Christ’s greatest glory is seen in Him walking on water, stilling the storm, or feeding the 5000. Yet, it was the night in which He was betrayed that He said, “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” To bring us new life in the forgiveness of our sins, “The Son of man must suffer many things…and be slain, and be raised the third day.” His resurrection proves that the Father accepted His sacrifice for our sins.

Most of the time Jesus did not show His great power, yet, when He chose to reveal it, it wasn’t to put on a great performance, but rather, to demonstrate that He was the Son of God, the Savior of the world.

The disciples trembled, but He comforted them, “Arise, and be not afraid.” Through Christ, there is no reason to fear anything. Because of His sacrifice, God is at peace with us and our sins are forever forgiven. He accomplished all things needful for us to be saved. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."

Let us then not live for earthly glory, but for the one who laid down His life for us to freely give us the eternal glory of heaven. May He continue to comfort and strengthen us in His Word, the one thing needful. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

“And His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light.” - Matthew 17:2

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