5th June 2023
Steven J. Cole offers a thought
The Glory of Jesus
In attempting to speak on the glory of the Lord Jesus
in His transfiguration, I identify with Peter, who felt that
he needed to say something,
but really didn't know what he was saying!
What can anyone say to describe or explain an event like this?
Peter referred back to this awesome spectacle when he wrote,
"We weren't, you know, just wishing on a star when we laid
the facts out before you regarding the powerful return of our Master,
Jesus Christ. We were there for the preview!
We saw it with our own eyes: Jesus resplendent with light from
God the Father as the voice of Majestic Glory spoke:
"This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of all my delight."
We were there on the holy mountain with him.
We heard the voice out of heaven with our very own ears."
.....2 Pet. 1:16-18 (The Message).
I suppose that there are people whose heads are so much in the clouds
that they don't accomplish much in practical terms.
But the truth of the matter is, most of us are so earthly minded that
we are of no earthly or heavenly good.
The Bible is clear that if we want to walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord,
we must set our minds on the things above, where Jesus is,
seated at the right hand of God.
There is nothing quite so practical as gaining a clearer vision of
the glory of Jesus.
Like Peter, John, and James, we must come down off the mountain to
deal with difficult situations, but we will deal with them more
effectively if we have seen the glory of our Lord Jesus.
To understand the transfiguration, we must see it in its context.
Luke has been gradually revealing to us the identity of Jesus.
People had different views - He is John the Baptist, Elijah, or
one of the prophets come back.
But by divine revelation, Peter acknowledged that Jesus is the Christ of God
But immediately after Peter's confession, Jesus told the disciples of
His impending death and resurrection.
This jarred them and they did not understand what He was talking about,
in spite of His repeated references to it. They understood Jesus as King,
but they did not yet understand that He first must suffer and
then enter into His glory.
Jesus also has made it plain that those who follow Him must follow
in the way of the cross. Jesus did not come to please Himself,
but to do the will of the Father, which supremely included the cross.
Jesus concluded that discourse with a difficult verse:
"But I say to you truthfully,
there are some of those standing here who shall not taste death
until they see the kingdom of God.
There are various interpretations of what Jesus meant by this.
I agree with many of the early church fathers who believed that Jesus
was referring to the event that immediately follows, namely,
Three of the disciples there got a glimpse of what Jesus will be like
in that coming kingdom, when He comes in the glory of the Father
and His holy angels.
Jesus' comment about 'not tasting death' refers to the fact that although
some of those who follow Him will lose their lives for His sake,
some of them would see a manifestation of the coming kingdom before
they faced martyrdom, because to see Jesus in His glory is to see a
preview of that day when He will return to reign.
In this context, the transfiguration served to encourage the three disciples
by showing them that even though their Master would suffer and die and
though they, too, must follow Him in the path of the cross,
the future glory of Jesus and of all who follow Him is certain.
The disciples' understanding, like their sleepiness and the cloud
on the mountain, was foggy at first. But later this unforgettable
experience came back to them with clarity and insight.
Their experience teaches us that ...
we all need a clearer vision of the glory of Jesus.
The 'glory of Jesus' was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that not even all
the apostles shared in, it is included in Scripture for our instruction.
When I say that we need a vision of the glory of Jesus,
I am not suggesting that we should sit on a mountaintop and try to
conjure up some mystical vision of Jesus.
We can know Him through His Word, where He has been revealed to us,
and through the Holy Spirit who takes the things of Jesus in the Word
and discloses them to us.
The Christian life is cantered on coming to know Jesus in an ever-deeper way.
While I strongly believe in learning sound doctrine,
we need always to keep in mind that the aim of knowing doctrine is
to know the glorious Saviour better.
He is like a beautiful gemstone, where you see different facets
of His glory as you view Him in the light of the Word.
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Steven J. Cole
Steve served as the pastor of Flagstaff Christian Fellowship from May, 1992
through his retirement in December, 2018. From 1977-1992 he was the pastor of
Lake Gregory Community Church in Crestline, California.