READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l At the transfiguration, God revealed the identity of Jesus, His beloved Son who bore our sins on the cross, to the disciples. In the first scene (vs.1-4), Jesus is transformed. His dazzling appearance represents the purity and sovereignty of God. At this point in time, Jesus had prophesied His impending death. The disciples sorely needed assurance. God gave them something to hold on to, as they struggled with the Lord’s coming death. In the second scene (vs. 5), God spoke. The disciples were told to listen to Jesus, as the One who has God’s authority. Like the disciples, we are to heed and obey what Jesus tells us. In the third scene (vs.6-9), the disciples responded. They are transformed in their understanding. It is not Jesus who changed but the disciples.
How is the transfiguration related to intentional discipleship? How do we respond to changes in life? We draw the following lessons from the transfiguration:
1. Mountain top experience – many have had mountain top experiences through events such as church camp or silent retreat. God becomes real to us in some way. We have drawn closer to God and encountered Him in a fresh way. We are changed as a result. However, we do not need mountain top experiences to follow Jesus.
2. God does not change – it is we who have changed as we realise the reality of God. We are transformed. In Matt.17:4, Peter suggested that three dwellings be built on the mountain. He wanted the glory to continue. We may criticize Peter for not wanting to get down from the mountain to the realities of life below. But we need to be transformed in order to meet the challenges which we will meet in the valley.
3. The entire Christian life is a long ascent up the mountain to worship Christ.
4. Discipleship is what happens after and as we are changed when we know who God is. Intentional discipleship is when we step out to take part in God’s healing in this broken world. And it all begins with our transformation.
5. Intentional discipleship is seen in our continual transformation, in our minds, thoughts, attitudes and hearts. “The proof of our mountain top experiences is our service in the valley. To see God as He is, we see humankind as they are. We worship and then we serve” (Rick Ezell).
6. Changes affect our lives – change is a reality in life, whether we welcome it or not; a change may be positive or otherwise. All changes come with consequences, challenges, and questions.
How do we live in the midst of changes in life?
1. Listen to Jesus (vs 5) – His words are for us. The disciples had preconceived notions of their future with Jesus. We too need to put aside any such notions and put our hope in Him. We encounter many voices, both from external sources and within ourselves. These voices may cast fear, doubt, criticism, and so on. There is only one voice we need to heed – that of God’s. Be attentive to His voice. Learn His way of engaging life. In the midst of change, Jesus speaks a word of life, love, mercy, forgiveness, hope, and healing to each of us. Are we listening?
2. Get up (vs 7) – step up into new life. The literal translation is to be raised up or to be resurrected. In whatever circumstances of change we face, we need to get up. Though changed, life has not ended. God uses these changes to draw us into new life.
3. Do not be afraid (vs 7) – we may fear change. But Jesus tells us not to fear. These words do not magically eliminate fear. They are an invitation to take a first step in a transformed life even as changes occur. Jesus, and not change, has the final word. Every change we encounter is illumined with divine light and filled with God’s presence.
In the transfiguration, Jesus is revealed as our Messiah. Our response to this truth is to stick with Jesus and to take God seriously. This is intentional discipleship.
(Sermon notes by Angela Goh)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
1. Recall a mountain-top experience you had. What changes took place in you. What was God saying to you then?
2. Share a recent change (positive or negative) you experienced in life. Share how you feel, what you did and how God’s presence is evident in the situation.
3. Reflect on Matthew 17:6-7. What do they teach us about how we should respond to the Lord Jesus.
4. The text provides three ways to live in the midst of changes.
- Listen to Him (v5)
- Get up (v7)
- Do not be afraid (v7)
How can you intentionally apply the above?
5. How important is listening to Jesus in your life? What changes do you think are needed in your life to give the Word of Jesus more prominence?
6. Discipleship is seen in our continual transformation. What steps can you take to move towards transformation?