The Triumph of a Humble King: To Wash Away the Remnants of the World

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘The Triumph of a Humble King: To Wash Away the Remnants of the World

© April 9, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin April 9, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                         Opening Hymn #134: Hosanna, Loud Hosanna; Choruses                                   Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings             Responsive Reading #625: The Triumphal Entry (Matthew 21 and Mark 11)   

           

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Praise and Worship Service. Today, being Palm Sunday, where Christians observe the launch of Holy Week, leading to Good Friday, and culminating at Easter Sunday.

Speaking of Good Friday, as we have for the past several years, the BLCF Church congregation will join with members of the Toronto Vineyard in conducting a Communion Service to remember the great sacrifice and final given by our Lord to pay the debt owed for the sins of humanity.

For our lesson today, which bears the somewhat long, but self-explanatory title of ‘The Triumph of a Humble King: To Wash Away the Remnants of the World’, we will examine some of the significance and symbolism of the actions of Jesus, the disciples, and those gather at two of the significant events recorded in the days of Easter Week, just prior to the arrest and crucifixion of our Lord.

Those two events are: the account of Jesus riding to Jerusalem, on a colt or donkey, and later the account of Lord electing to wash the feet of his disciples just prior to the Passover meal.

In the Christian church, the Holy Week of Easter begins on Palm Sunday, a day where we observe the triumphal arrival of Jesus to Jerusalem just prior to his crucifixion, which we find in John 12:12-19 (ESV):

 The Triumphal Entry

12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,

15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

Many of the actions of the Lord, including riding a donkey into Jerusalem, are fulfillment of prophecies found in the Old Testament, including 2 Kings 9:13 (ESV):

13 Then in haste every man of them took his garment and put it under him on the bare[a] steps, and they blew the trumpet and proclaimed, “Jehu is king.”

Footnotes: a. 2 Kings 9:13 The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain

 Another example is found in Zechariah 9:9 (ESV):

 The Coming King of Zion

 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

 We see in Matthew’s account of Jesus arrival, that people in the crowd placed cloaks and tree branches upon the road in path of Jesus, as he rode upon the donkey.

Let us look at the significance of elements of this account, beginning with the use of the palm branch, which we find described at the site, jewishencyclopedia.com:

 

The Palm Branch

At BLCF Church This Palm Sunday 2012

HOSANNA – …The cry which the people of Jerusalem were accustomed to raise while marching in procession and waving branches of palm, myrtle, and willow in the joyous Sukkot festival, especially on the seventh day, when …the willow-branches of the “lulab” procession were piled up and beaten against the altar (Suk. iii. 9, iv. 5). The willow-branch thus received the name “hosha’na” (Suk. 30b, 31a, 34a, 37a, b, 46b); and the …carrying of the palm branches as described in I Macc. xiii. 51 and II Macc. x. 7.According to John xii. 13 (in the Sinaitic codex), which has the story preserved in its original form, the same cry was raised by…
ATTAH HORE’TA – …Tabernacles; and it appears also in the melody sung by the cantor while waving the palm-branch (Lulab) during the Ḥallel on the first days (LULAB – …Name given to the festive palm-branch which with the Etrog is carried and waved on the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). The three constituents of the lulab are: (1) a shoot …twigs and willow-branches are tied to the lower end of the palm-branch—the former on the right, and the latter on the left—by means of three rings of palm-strips. These branches constitute with the etrog the “four …the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook: and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.” Aside from the palm-branch and the willows the passage does not specify what shall be used; and the…
HALLEL – …is given out separately.On Sukkot the palm-branch is shaken in all directions while the first hemistich is chanted (“Hoshiahna”).Hallel is closed with this benediction: “O Lord, our God, may all …In the case of the Feast of Tabernacles the wavingof the palm-branch (see Lulab) is the most characteristic feature of the celebration of the festival; and consequently the…

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&keywords=Palm+Branch&commit=search

Some secular sources reference that, in the time of Christ, the Greeks awarded a palm branch to victorious athlete, while the Romans used either a palm frond or the palm tree to signify a military victory.

Since the arrival of Jesus was not associated with an athletic or military achievement, I think that it is safe to discard associating his arrival with either of the two. This conclusion is supported by the fact that in addition to the laying of  palm branches, the crowed also cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 

But what is meat when they say ‘Hosanna’? Let us again look at our online  reference source, jewishencyclopedia.com:

 Hosanna

Palm Sunday 2011 At Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship Church

HOSANNA – …the multitude on the occasion of Jesus’ arrival at Jerusalem. They “took branches of palm-trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord”—that is, the …verse following “Anna Adonai hoshi’ah-nna” in the Hallel psalm— and then called him “the King of Israel.” Luke (xix. 38), writing for the Gentiles, omits the palm-branches and the Hosanna cry, and changes the …combines the two versions, and changes the words of Luke into “Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh. . . . Hosanna in the highest,” the closing words of which no longer give any sense The same is…
SALVATION – …to release.”Hosanna. The underlying idea of all these words, save the last two, is help extended and made effective in …passionate appeal “Hoshi’ah-nna” (ib. verse 25; = “Hosanna”) ought to be rendered “Give victory,” a translation all the more assured by the certainty that the psalm is Maccabean. He who leads to victory in battle …the head of the army was greeted with the salutation “Hoshi’ah” = “Hosanna,” corresponding to (II Kings x. 19; Neh. ii. 3). This would appear from II Kings vi. 26, the…
HOSHA’NA RABBAH – …recited once in each Hosha’na service (the Hebrew for “save now” is here “Hoshi’ah-na,” which has come into English through Christian sources as “hosanna”>Hosanna”).

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&keywords=hosanna&commit=search

It seems that the crowd recognized that Jesus had arrived to bring victory and salvation to the Jews. But why did Jesus choose to arrive on a donkey? We get part of the answer from the following excerpts, taken from an article authored by Rebekah L. Holt:

Donkeys in the Bible

Rebekah L. Holt

 Christ as the King of Kings to enter in Jerusalem on a donkey was a lowly action.  In today’s terms, to select a donkey instead of a horse could be compared to a prince selecting a furniture delivery truck over a rare luxury sports car!   Historically, horses are the equine thrones of victorious Kings and Princes.  Haman in the book of Esther considered riding the king’s horse in fine clothes, to be attended by noblemen and to have personal praise heralded to a crowd to be a great honor.   Even today, we would expect such a procession of royalty.  Yet, in Jerusalem, to be astride a donkey was commonplace.  Donkeys typically served as everyday transportation, a long-eared daily sight to be seen in the streets.

 In following Christ’s example, when serving the Lord, our focus should be on obeying Him with lowliness and humility.

http://www.equest4truth.com/equus-in-the-bible/123-donkeys-in-the-bible

In addition to a degree of humility, the arrival of a king riding a donkey, rather than a horse or in a chariot signifies peaceful intentions of our Lord, an idea contrary to some who expected Jesus to lead an army against those who oppressed and persecuted the faithful.

One advantage to reading the historical account of the Lord’s arrival on that Psalm Sunday, is the fact we may fast forward a few days in that Passion or Easter week and read an account that describes where Jesus taught his disciples an important lesson about the way they should minister his Gospel to others, This account is found in John 13:1-20 (ESV):

Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet

 13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet,[a] but is completely clean. And you[b] are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[c] is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled,[d] ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”                                                                         

Footnotes: a. John 13:10 Some manuscripts omit except for his feet b. John 13:10 The Greek words for you in this verse are plural c. John 13:16 Or bondservant, or slave (for the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface) d. John 13:18 Greek But in order that the Scripture may be fulfilled 

We may find an understanding of why Jesus sought to humble himself as a servant to wash the feet of his disciples in the following article found at   jewishencyclopedia.com:

Washing Of Feet

By: Emil G. HirschWilhelm NowackSolomon Schechter

Since the Israelites, like all other Oriental peoples, wore sandals instead of shoes, and as they usually went barefoot in the house, frequent washing of the feet was a necessity. Hence among the Israelites it was the first duty of the host to give his guest water for the washing of his feet (Gen. xviii. 4, xix. 2, xxiv. 32, xliii. 24; Judges xix. 21); to omit this was a sign of marked unfriendliness. It was also customary to wash the feet before meals and before going to bed (comp. Cant. V. 3); to abstain for a long time from washing them was a sign of deep mourning (II Sam. Xix. 24). Though there are no extant laws for laymen in regard to washing the feet, such laws for priests are given in Ex. Xxx. 19-21. There mention is made of brazen vessels, placed between the Tabernacle and the altar of burnt offering, in which the priests had to wash their hands and feet on entering the Tabernacle or before approaching the altar of burnt offerings: hence at all their priestly functions. Just as no one is allowed to approach a king or prince without due preparation, which includes the washing of the hands and feet, so the Israelite, and especially the priest, is forbidden in his unclean condition to approach Yhwh, for he who comes defiled will surely die.

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/6051-feet-washing-of

Jesus while literally washes the dust, remnants of the world, from the feet of the disciples, will soon go the cross to wash away all remnants of sin from humanity.

Let us talk about the “elephant in the room” which is sin, if you excuse the pun as a segue.

Christ sought to teach his disciples a ministry of humility by riding to Jerusalem on the back of a donkey and by washing the feet of the disciples. But these lessons also foreshadow our Lords impending death, where Jesus would pay the price for our sins by forfeiting his life to a brutal death on the cross, as the Apostle Paul described in Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV):

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a]6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Footnotes: a. Philippians 2:5 Or which was also in Christ Jesus b. Philippians 2:6 Or a thing to be held on to for advantage c. Philippians 2:7 Or slave (for the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface)

Another translation of Philippians 2:5-8 goes as follows:

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #349: May the Mind of Christ, My Savior

Benediction (Revelation 1:5b-6):                                                                            To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

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The Price of Salvation and the Currency of God

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘The Price of Salvation and the Currency of God

© April 2, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin April 2, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Opening Prayer

Hymn #358: We Praise Thee, O God; Choruses

Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings

 Responsive Reading #620: The Church (Matthew 16, Ephesians 5 and 2, 1 Corinthians 12, Colossians)

 Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘The Price of Salvation and the Currency of God

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to our Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church. Our lesson today is entitled: ‘The Price of Salvation and the Currency of God’.

Most of us operate within lines, borders, or thresholds that separate an area where we want to live and function. But history records many such significant geo-political lines.

In 1493, Spanish-born Pope Alexander VI drew a line on the globe, where everything east was open to exploration and exploitation by the Portuguese, and all the lands west would go to the Spanish. This meant that the whole w4estern hemisphere, except Portuguese Brazil, would go to the Spanish. We know that the Danish, Dutch, English, French and Indigenous Peoples might not agree with this line.

And there are the lines drawn throughout history, including the battles, borders and walls. One US president gained fame for wanting to build a wall, while another for wanting to tear down another.

You may recall that Jesus drew lines in the sand when he suggested that whoever was without sin had the right to cast a stone of judgment and condemnation at an adulterous woman. In other words we should judge ourselves before we decide to judge others. And the sins of others do not justify our own and vice-versa.

But the problem here is not so much the existence of sin, that is a given, but how we able to avoid the temptation of crossing that threshold between avoiding a sin and committing it.

We find Jesus who had the distinction of both being God’s Son and a son of humanity, was not exempt from the temptation of sin. And just as happened in the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve, the devil, whose name is Satan, sought to tempt Jesus from his Godly mission in this world, as we read in Luke 4:1-13 (ESV):

The Temptation of Jesus

 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time,and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’

11 and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

The influence of the devil’s influence is great and far-reaching. We see that no sooner is Jesus baptized with the Holy Spirit and acclaimed by his Father in heaven, do we see the devil working at pulling our Lord across the threshold of temptation into sin.

And if Satan chooses to tempt God’s own Son, we should not be surprised that the devil would temp a disciple of Jesus, Matthew 16:13-26 (ESV):

Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ

 13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[a] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[b] shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed[c] in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord![d]This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance[e] to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

Footnotes: a. Matthew 16:18 The Greek words for Peter and rock sound similar b. Matthew 16:18 Greek the gates of Hades c. Matthew 16:19 Or shall have been bound… shall have been loosed d. Matthew 16:22 Or “[May God be] merciful to you, Lord!” e. Matthew 16:23 Greek stumbling block f. Matthew 16:25 The same Greek word can mean either soul or life, depending on the context; twice in this verse and twice in verse 26

You may recall that at the closing of the account where Satan tempted Jesus that the devil left Jesus for an opportune time. What better time than when Peter acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, and after the Lord blesses Peter, choosing him to be the rock upon which Christ will build His Church? Sure enough, Satan tries to tempt Jesus by placing the seeds of doubt in the mind of this elected disciple. It shows us that if Satan cannot tempt us directly, he will try to influence us through those whom we love and trust.

Some years ago, I worked for a company that chose to have its annual picnic at African Lion Safari. Employees and their families were allowed a discount for tickets to a catered lunch in an area in the park.

After lunch we were invited to participate in a tug of war with an elephant. I remember many of us strong and foolish participants took up a long rope marked by yellow tape. The first side to pull the rope across the line would win. Needless to say, the elephant won with little or no apparent effort pulling 20 strong individuals across the line.

That is the way of sin. We seem to have our lives and boundaries from sin securely protected by the imaginary an imaginary wall held together by the mortar of the strength of our own determination. And as if using the strength of some imaginary giant pachyderm effortlessly pulls us across the line.

It is only with the power of the Holy Spirit of God are we able to safely keep Satan’s temptations behind us and maintain the line from sin.

Let us pray…

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship "May Day" 2011 Communion Sunday

 Communion – Responsive Reading #626: The Last Supper (Mark 14)

 Closing Hymn #130: Tell Me the Story of Jesus

Benediction – Romans 8:38-39:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘The Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor’

© March 26 17, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

Originally Shared with BLCF on Sunday January 27, 2010

BLCF Bulletin March 26, 2017

 Announcements and Call to Worship:

Opening Prayer: Matthew 6:9-14

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come, your will be done,                                                                   
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,                                                                                       12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,                                                                                       but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses,                                                                   your heavenly Father will also forgive you

Hymn #339: More About Jesus Would I Know; Choruses

 Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings

Opening Hymn #339: More About Jesus Would I Know

 Prayer and Tithing – Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayer Requests

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome, again, to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship Sunday Praise and Worship service, in the heart of Toronto. An important part of a believer’s praise and worship is setting aside part of your day for prayer. In order to sense God’s presence, it is helpful to make that prayer time in the quiet of the day. Often that time is either early in the morning or late at night, when it is quiet and free from distractions.  At times of particular need or concern, for oneself or for others, is another good time to converse with the Lord through prayer. And of course, don’t forget to praise Him at times of victory and to thank Him for answered prayer.

For the Mickelson family, prayer time came at the end of the day, at the very least. Sophie and I started this tradition after we were married, and carried it on with our children. With the kids, the prayer would be a time to remember everyone in the family, and to remember those in the extended family, as well as prayer concerns for our friends. Often, prayer time included reading from the bible. I am happy to see that my eldest child, Athena, now married with three children of her own carries on the tradition of prayer before bed.

The Scriptures indicate that for Jesus, the preferred time for prayer was the evening, in a quiet place, such as a mountain top or in a garden. In this morning’s scripture, in Luke 9, we see that Jesus went up on a mountain to pray.

On one occasion, the Scriptures record that Jesus brought along three of his disciples, Peter, John and James, to pray on a mountain.  It was on this mountain, which many scholars believe to be Mount Tabor, an event described in Luke 9:27-36, that the three disciples bore witness to something more than just the Lord at prayer:

Luke 9:27-36 (ESV)

27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

The Transfiguration

28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure,[a] which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One;[b] listen to him!” 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

Footnotes: a. Luke 9:31 Greek exodus b. Luke 9:35 Some manuscripts my Beloved

Jesus brought along with him Peter, James and John, where it is described verse 32 that the three became “heavy with sleep”. The scriptures do not say why they started to become drowsy. You might speculate that it was from the exertion of climbing the mount. A similar thing happened to those who joined Jesus when he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, just before his crucifixion. I believe part of it may be the effect of being in God’s presence. Needless to say, the three awoke to see that Jesus’ appearance had changed: both his face and clothing were transfigured, and he seemed to be floating among the clouds. And Jesus was observed talking with Moses and Elijah.

Transfigured is an interesting word. It is the English translation from the Greek Scriptures of “metamorpho” meaning to transform, literally or figuratively, to metamorphose, or to change. It is a verb and therefore means to change into another form. Christ’s death and resurrection is often symbolized by the butterfly, which changes or metamorphosis’s in a chrysalis from a larva, then to a pupa, and then ending as a butterfly. These changes are similar to Christ began in human form before crucifixion, then as the Resurrected Christ and finally, as the Ascended Christ.

What a sight that must have been to behold! And then to actually hear the voice of God stating: “This is my Son, my Chosen One, listen to him!”

It is interesting to note that God appears to make this statement as a response to Peter’s impulsive suggestion that the three disciples should build three tents in honour of Jesus, Moses and Elijah. If you go back to verse 27, you will see that perhaps God’s words were spoken, not as a reaction to the comment by the disciple about building temples. More likely, God spoke in agreement with the statement made by Jesus, as we see recorded in John 9:27“But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

This is not the first time that the disciples struggled to comprehend the meaning and significance of a miracle of Jesus that they had just witnessed. For what they had observed was a glimpse of the glory of Heaven that Jesus alluded to in Luke 9, verse 27.

This miracle, like that where Jesus walked upon the waters of the Sea of Galilee, was another of the rare miracles in the Gospels, where Jesus was the object of the miracle.

Thomas Aquinas considered the Transfiguration to be “the greatest miracle” in that it complemented the baptism and showed the perfection of life in Heaven.

Another instance in the Scriptures of God speaking occurred just after Jesus was baptized, where the Father spoke from Heaven saying: “This is my beloved Son, with who I am well pleased.” For Jesus, this was his own personal Pentecost, where the power of the Holy Spirit came upon him.

The Transfiguration of Jesus is significant in that we have an account of the promise of Heaven and the Resurrected life. By contrast Christ’s baptism, the Holy Spirit is observed afterwards descending, “like a dove”, upon him. This passage of Scripture recorded in Matthew 3:16-17, we have a presentation of the trinity of God, God’s voice in Heaven, Jesus the son’s baptism, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. All three are distinct, and each being the presence of God.

There is a third account in the New Testament, where a voice speaks from Heaven, which occurs during the conversion of Paul, known formerly as Saul of Tarsus. That account is given in the Book of Acts, Chapter 9, verses 1-7, when Saul of Tarsus hears the Son of God ask “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And Saul, whose job was to arrest the followers of Christ, asks who is speaking? To which Jesus replies “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” indicating that an offence against a believer of Christ is considered to be an offence against Christ. Jesus then instructs him to “rise and enter the city” and that he would be told what to do.

The significance of this passage is how God convicts non-believers of faith, and how even the most stubborn of non-believers can be transformed by the Holy Spirit. Paul, sometimes referred to as the thirteenth Apostle, had his conversion after Jesus’ earthly ministry. It is interesting that before his conversion, Saul of Tarsus was a member of the religious order which had Jesus put to death, and stoned Stephen, the first martyr of the followers of Christ.

Going back to Luke 9 and the Transfiguration, one may question why John, James and Peter, were privy to this Heavenly vision of seeing Moses and Elijah conversing with Jesus regarding his impending departure in Jerusalem. By departure, we are talking about the crucifixion as the Chosen One.

Though Jesus died for our sins, to redeem believers, so that they may become righteous and be acceptable unto God. All of the disciples, save John, died violent deaths because of their beliefs and their sharing of the miracles that Jesus performed, the most important being his resurrection, his ascension and his gifting of the Holy Spirit. James was put to death by a sword, by order of King Herod. Peter, being a Roman citizen was not crucified; instead he was beheaded in Rome, at the order of Nero. John, the first of the twelve disciples to follow Jesus, and the last to die, did not die a violent death. The Apostle John did live long enough to see Jesus, as well as the eleven disciples, including his brother, James, die violently because of their beliefs.

The disciple’s individual faith may have wavered at one time or another,  each disciple, save for Judas Iscariot, was put to death in a violent manner, because of the conviction of the faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus, which is Christ’s Gospel.

Further support to the notion is found in Luke 9 verse 27, “some standing here will not taste death until they see the Kingdom of God” referring to Peter, James and John, the three who witnessed the Transfiguration, and who later acknowledged having seen the Kingdom of Heaven.

For Peter, we read in 2 Peter 1:16-18 (ESV):

 16For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

It seems quite clear that Peter refers to the Transfiguration on the mount as a view of the majesty of the arisen Christ and the voice of God in Heaven.

With John, we read another acknowledgement of glory in the Transfiguration:

John 1:14 (ESV)

14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Most scholars of the Bible agree that in the vision of the Transfiguration of Jesus, that Moses represents the Laws or the Sacred Scriptures of God, as Moses had authored five of the book of the Old Testament, and he delivered God’s Ten Commandments to the Hebrew people. Elijah represents the Prophets of God. Jesus represents both the authority of God, and fulfillment of both the Word and the Prophets.

The account of Jesus’ baptism records the presence of the Trinity of God. The Trinity is observed again in the Transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus, the son, was observed with Moses and Elijah. God’s presence is found when His words were heard. And the cloud that appears represents the presence of the Holy Spirit.

You may ask: Why were Peter, James and John were selected to witness Jesus’ Transfiguration?  Many scholars view that while Moses and Elijah represent God’s Faith in the Prophets and the Laws that preceded Jesus. The three disciples represent aspects of God’s Faith after Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension: Peter represents the Faith of the Church, James represents Hope of love (i.e. loving one’s neighbor as oneself), and John represents the application of Charity in the good works of man. Together, we have a symbolic representation of the Trinity the faith in the Holy Spirit, the Hope through the Salvation of Christ, and the Charity of God our Father in heaven who provided a means that we might be sanctified in spite of our sinful nature.

As often occurs in the Gospel accounts, the apostles while witnessing a miracle of Jesus, lose track of its significance. You may recall in a previous message about the miracle where Jesus walked across the Sea of Galilee, following the feeding of the multitude, also known as the “Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes”. The disciples had yet to conclude that this supernatural miracle not only proved that Jesus had the power of God, but that Christ was God.

Only after Jesus easily walked across a stormy sea, against which the disciples had struggled for hours, did he perform the miracle whereby Peter with Jesus treaded water, so long as he had his eyes fixed on Jesus. When Peter does take his gaze from Jesus, and looks upon the sea, he sinks. Jesus performs yet another miracle by raising Peter out of the water: “Oh ye of little faith!”

Eventually, Jesus boards the boat containing the disciples and calms the stormy weather, and transports the boat, according to John’s Gospel, instantaneously across the water. It takes a series of supernatural miracles before the twelve finally acknowledge that Jesus is truly the son of God.

Like the people of Israel who kept losing the faith, while being led from Pharaoh’s Egypt, through the desert, to the Promised Land, the disciples kept forgetting who they were following. Perhaps this was the real purpose of the excursion that Jesus made with Peter, John and James on Mount Tabor:  to remind the disciples that they were following the Son of God. In one account of the Transfiguration, Jesus instructed the three disciples not to tell anyone what they have seen until three days after His crucifixion.

As believers in the Gospel, what can you and I take home from the message of the Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor? There are four key points to today’s lesson:

First, we have hope, through our faith, just as Jesus was transfigured into another form in Heaven,  we, too, will be resurrected to heave, by faith in the resurrected Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Second, just like the disciples, in spite of lapses in judgment and though we may continue to sin, if we continue to confess our sins, God will forgive our sins and by His grace and the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf, God has a place for us in Heave. “Though we were yet sinners, Christ died for our sin.”

And third, in spite of our inequities, Christ does not give up on us. As many times as it takes, he will patiently take us to the holy places, to remind us that “He will never leave or forsake us!”

Finally, as was observed earlier in today’s message, as Christ was baptized in water and the Holy Spirit, and then be reborn, in spirit and transfigured into a new, that on this earth, as believers we may be transfigured through faith in the Word and the promise of the salvation of the lamb, Jesus. We, too, may have the same vision that what we do on this world in the name of Jesus has the promise and power to transfigure us into a creature that is Holy and Sanctified. However, since Jesus has already died and arisen on the third day, there is no expectation of death’s darkness and silence, but an expectation that we may share the promise of having a new body, transfigured by faith in the fulfillment of Word, now made flesh in Jesus our Savior.

The Scriptures, through the disciples’ accounts of their observation of the   Transfiguration of Jesus, give believers a glimpse of the glorious afterlife we may expect to see when we are resurrected on the day Christ returns in his glory. This will be a day when we will sing, along with the angels of Heaven praises of hallelujah to the glory of the Lord.

The Day that Jesus returns in all of his glory will be a day of judgment; a day of deliverance; a day of our transfiguration.

Until that glorious day that we, as resurrected, transfigured believers are united with the Lord, we ae commissioned by our faith to share the truth of the gospel of Jesus that he died to make us holy and believing the truth of his message will set others free.

Let me finish today’s message by reading from Transfigured by Jay C. Treat, as a prayer (found on the back of today’s Bulletin):

(Dear God in Heaven)

We went up the mountain with Jesus,    

but quite unprepared for surprise.

We never expected to see him    

transform right in front of our eyes!

His face was as bright as the sunlight;    

his clothes were as bright as the skies.

He talked with Elijah and Moses,    

who stood right in front of our eyes.

We thought we could build them three temples:    

one shrine for the giver of laws,

and one for Elijah the prophet,    

and one for this master of ours.

A bright cloud then covered the mountain.    

A Voice echoed deep from within,

Said, “This is my son, my beloved one!    

He pleases me! Listen to him!”

We came down the mountain with Jesus,    

now ready for any surprise.

We’re ready to listen and follow    

and change right in front of his eyes                                                                        

(In name of Jesus we pray – AMEN)

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #522: Battle Hymn of The Republic

Benediction – (Romans 15:13) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.