Family Bible Study lesson for April 22: Obeying the Lord of Glory
April 6 2001 by William (Mac) McElrath , Matthew 17:1-13

Family Bible Study lesson for April 22: Obeying the Lord of Glory | Friday, April 6, 2001

Friday, April 6, 2001

Family Bible Study lesson for April 22: Obeying the Lord of Glory

By William (Mac) McElrath Matthew 17:1-13 There's something about a mountain top. Engraved on the cornerstone of the old Spilman Auditorium at Ridgecrest are these words: "the mountain top of vision and inspiration." How many thousands of us do you suppose there are who at one time or another have found vision and inspiration at Ridgecrest?

Others have found it on other mountain tops. Way back in 1919 my mother found it at Blue Ridge, in the teachings of Walter Rauschenbusch, Baptist prophet of social justice. Some have found it at Billy Graham's retreat, The Cove, some at Glorieta or elsewhere.

During our years in Indonesia, Betty and I liked to hold personal retreats at a vast Chinese cemetery on a mountain top near our city. Surrounded by brilliant tropical flowers, looking down at cloud shadows scudding across the valleys, we seemed to get a clearer perspective on our lives. That's where we both started working through Experiencing God; maybe the mountain top had something to do with the experience.

The Bible speaks of many mountain top experiences: Moses on Mount Sinai and Mount Nebo; Elijah on Mount Carmel and Mount Horeb. Yet none of these is as striking as the transfiguration of Jesus.

Jesus - glorious Lord (Matthew 17:1-4) Jesus' mountain top experience came at a time when it was sorely needed. He had been rejected at Nazareth (Matt. 13:53-58). Teachers of the law had argued with him about ritual cleanliness (Matt. 15:1-2). Pharisees and Sadducees had demanded a sign from heaven (Matt. 16:1). Jesus' own disciples had showed that they were not yet ready to hear that He must suffer and die (Matt. 16:21-23).

In the transfiguration, God the Father graciously lifted the veil of time and space long enough for God the Son to be reassured as to who He was and why He had come to planet earth. Moses and Elijah appeared, thus reinforcing the continuity between God's people under the old covenant and God's people under the new.

No wonder Peter blurted out, "Let's just stay here, Lord! Let's put up three brush arbors so we can stay right here on this mountain top!"

Jesus - preeminent Son (Matthew 17:5-8) God the Father mercifully interrupted Peter's foolish prattling. Out of a bright cloud He spoke, making it clear who ought to be listened to - and it wasn't Peter. No wonder Peter, James and John "fell facedown to the ground, terrified!" (v. 6, NIV.)

Perhaps the wonder of the incarnation shines more clearly in Matthew 17:7 than in any other verse of the New Testament. There could be no more mistaking who Jesus really was - not on that vision-crowned mountain top! Yet He came to His disciples; He touched their trembling forms. "'Get up,' He said, 'Don't be afraid'" (NIV).

They lifted their terror-stricken faces and saw - no one except Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth, their friend and teacher whom they had left all to follow. Moses and Elijah had disappeared; but Jesus, God's beloved Son, was still with them.

Jesus - suffering Savior (Matthew 17:9-13) As they walked together back down the mountain, Jesus warned His three closest followers not to tell anyone what they had seen "until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."

There it was again - the same thing that had spooked Peter after his great confession that Jesus was Messiah and Son of God. How could the Christ, God's great anointed one, be expected to suffer and die? The disciples' question in verse 10 reflects their confusion.

Jesus' explanation cleared things up, at least in part. The disciples realized that John the Baptist had fulfilled the ancient prophecy that Elijah, the austere desert dweller, would come back before the coming of the Messiah.

How had this second Elijah "restore[d] all things?" (v. 11). By suffering and dying, John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus. Not only by his preaching a baptism of repentance but also by experiencing martyrdom.

The experience of Jesus, in turning from the transfiguration toward what awaited Him at Jerusalem, is echoed by the rest of that inscription engraved on the old cornerstone at Ridgecrest. It reads something like this: "From the mountain top of vision and inspiration we would carry the love of Christ into every valley of human need."

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4/6/2001 12:00:00 AM by William (Mac) McElrath , Matthew 17:1-13 | with 0 comments
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