The Transfiguration

A mountain top experience.

Written by David Steltz on .

Notes

Advent

‌Explanation of Advent

‌Good morning! It’s the first Sunday of December! That means we’re officially in the season of “Advent.”

How many of you grew up with or have been in churches where they celebrate advent all month long?

How many of you have no idea what it means for a church to celebrate advent?

How about this: does anyone put up an “Advent Calendar” in their house?

People have gotten really creative with those! Sometimes they involve a little treat for each day in the month. I’ve seen some of them actually get really extravagant. And a lot of the ones you can buy now really have nothing to do with Christmas! Nothing to do with Jesus…just getting gifts each week, which kind of misses the point a little, doesn’t it? In fact, I’ve even seen beer-themed Advent calendars!

Growing up, we had a felt scene of the road that Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem, and each day we would move a little felt illustration of Mary and Joseph further down the road until finally they would rich the stable on Christmas day. And every day we moved them we’d count down the remaining days until Christmas.

Because there are 4 Sundays leading up to Christmas, many churches have had the tradition of taking time to meditate on a specific aspect of the advent each week as part of the worship service.

Often, there are advent candles or wreaths that correspond to each week as well.

Whether talking about an advent calendar, or observing advent in church, To celebrate the “Advent” of Christ simply means to celebrate the “Arrival” of Christ.

Traditionally we haven’t done any formal observance of Advent here at NCF. There’s nothing in the Bible that says you have to. 

Jesus never even said to celebrate his birth, but we still like to do that at Christmas don’t we?

And it’s a good thing! Just because it wasn’t specifically commanded doesn’t mean that it’s not a good idea to have a yearly designated season to celebrate the coming of the king.

And this year, we’ll be continuing our journey through Matthew, but I thought it would also be nice to spend just a few minutes each Sunday to meditate on the meaning of Christmas.

Week 1: Hope/Promise

Traditionally, each week corresponds with a specific theme related to Christmas. Week 1 is the hope, or the promise of a Messiah. To truly understand the significance of “the advent” we must understand why the messiah was so highly anticipated, and why his birth was a shining beacon of hope to humanity.

Isaiah

Isaiah 9:1–7 CSB
1 Nevertheless, the gloom of the distressed land will not be like that of the former times when he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali. But in the future he will bring honor to the way of the sea, to the land east of the Jordan, and to Galilee of the nations. 

2 The people walking in darkness 

have seen a great light; 

a light has dawned 

on those living in the land of darkness. 

3 You have enlarged the nation 

and increased its joy. 

The people have rejoiced before you 

as they rejoice at harvest time 

and as they rejoice when dividing spoils. 

4 For you have shattered their oppressive yoke 

and the rod on their shoulders, 

the staff of their oppressor, 

just as you did on the day of Midian. 

5 For every trampling boot of battle 

and the bloodied garments of war 

will be burned as fuel for the fire. 

6 For a child will be born for us, 

a son will be given to us, 

and the government will be on his shoulders. 

He will be named 

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, 

Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 

7 The dominion will be vast, 

and its prosperity will never end. 

He will reign on the throne of David 

and over his kingdom, 

to establish and sustain it 

with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. 

The zeal of the Lord of Armies will accomplish this.

Psalm

Psalm 122 NLT

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David. 

1 I was glad when they said to me, 

“Let us go to the house of the Lord.” 

2 And now here we are, 

standing inside your gates, O Jerusalem. 

3 Jerusalem is a well-built city; 

its seamless walls cannot be breached. 

4 All the tribes of Israel—the Lord’s people— 

make their pilgrimage here. 

They come to give thanks to the name of the Lord, 

as the law requires of Israel. 

5 Here stand the thrones where judgment is given, 

the thrones of the dynasty of David. 

6 Pray for peace in Jerusalem. 

May all who love this city prosper. 

7 O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls 

and prosperity in your palaces. 

8 For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, 

“May you have peace.” 

9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, 

I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem.

With that, we’ll light our first candle! 🔥

Message Introduction

‌Alright, find your way in your bibles or bible apps to Matthew chapter 17!

‌Last week, Mike wrapped up chapter 16 for us, and gave us a really great overview and outline of the overall structure and purpose of this final section of Matthew. We saw how, while the previous section was focused heavily on Jesus transforming people’s understanding of the law, this third and final major section of Matthew will be showing the process of Jesus transforming people’s perception of who he is and what he’s there to do.

‌Yes, we’ve seen his disciples, namely Peter, confess him as the Messiah, the chosen one, and as the son of God, someone more than just human. But they don’t yet fully understand what that means!

Now, we come to chapter 17, and we get the first example of this, of Jesus demonstrating, visibly who he is.

‌This first part of chapter 17 is a really fun and unique and weird passage today!

‌It’s unique in the sense that it’s a little bizarre, a little shocking, and it will be the first time any of Jesus’s disciples would have witnessed anything like this.

‌On the other hand, it’s not that unique, because This is actually NOT the first time something like this has happened, in fact there are a TON of connections to other stories and events, from the Old Testament as well as pointing forward to what’s going to happen later.

‌Passage

‌Let’s dive in!

Matthew 17:1–9 CSB
1 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. 2 He was transfigured in front of them, and his face shone like the sun; his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with him. 4 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it’s good for us to be here. If you want, I will set up three shelters here: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 

5 While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased. Listen to him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown and were terrified. 

7 Jesus came up, touched them, and said, “Get up; don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up they saw no one except Jesus alone. 

9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Don’t tell anyone about the vision until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”

‌Alright, let’s break this apart and look at it piece by piece, then we’ll take a step back and try to see what it means in the big picture of things and what, if any application it has for us.

‌Exegesis

‌The Setting

‌Verse one starts off with giving us the setting, with three key details

  1. ‌It has been six days since the previous events.
  2. Jesus is with just three of the disciples.
  3. And he takes them up a high mountain to be alone.

‌Six Days

‌It’s actually pretty rare to get such an exact time reference in the gospels. So why is this detail of six days included?

‌Well, specifically, it’s “AFTER” six days. Six days after what?

‌It’s six days after the previous conversation that we’ve looked at over the last two weeks. 

‌The conversation that involved Peter confessing Jesus as Messiah and Son of God, then trying to tell him to stop talking about dying in Jerusalem. 

‌The conversation where Jesus tells them to take up their cross and follow him, to lose their lives to find their lives. 

‌The conversation in which Jesus says that he WILL come with angels in glory and judgement, and that some of them would see it!

‌So, we don’t know for sure if there’s any significance to that number six specifically, but it does somehow connect back to the previous conversation, and in this context six days was pretty soon after. So, it could just be a way of saying “within a week later...” the following happened.

‌I’m actually going to circle back to this in a little bit, but for now let’s look at these other 2 details quickly.

‌Three Disciples

‌Jesus only brought three of his twelve closest followers with him for this experience. Jesus has that close, inner circle of twelve, but he has an even closer relationship with these three. This is one of multiple situations in which it is clear that These three: Peter, James, and John, are particularly special.

‌As Mike has said many times before: yes, Jesus had favorites!

‌I think the practical application of this is that yes, there is value in large crowds, teaching large groups of people at once, and worshiping in large groups corporately. We see many examples of that in scripture.

‌There is also value in small groups of 10, 12, 15, for more in-depth discussion and relationship and support.

‌And then there is another level of intimacy and discipleship in a smaller group of 2 or 3 or 4. These multiple levels, or layers of relationship when it comes to discipleship are what Jesus modeled, and it should be our goal to be pursuing involvement at each of those levels.

‌High Mountain

‌Alright, now let’s talk about this high mountain.

‌Where else have we seen mountains in the Bible?

‌Uhhh only, like, EVERYWHERE?!?!?

‌Going all the way back to Eden, the garden of Eden is not explicitly described as being on a mountain in Genesis, though there are little clues that hint towards that. But in later literature, Eden and Mountaintops are very closely associated and are tied to each other in many narrative and poetic themes.

‌You have Noah, a symbolic new Adam, emerging from the flood, into a new creation, upon a mountain, Mount Ararat, to being a new Eden.

‌You have Abraham, with a crucial moment on a mountain, mount Moriah.

‌You should definitely be thinking of Moses at mount Sinai, where he spoke with God, saw God, and received the law from God!

‌Then later Mount Nebo, from which Moses was allowed to gaze upon the promised land before he died and was buried by God (!?!?)

‌Then there’s Elijah at mount Sinai, where he spoke with God, and at mount Carmel where the prophets of baal were destroyed.

‌Then there’s Jerusalem, with David building around Mount Moriah, the temple being built on the highest point of Mount Moriah, where Abraham encountered God at the altar of his son.

‌There’s the mount of Olives, where David escaped from his persecutors, and where Jesus went to pray before he was killed, and from where he later ascended.

‌And there are more! Over and over again mountains are associated with divine encounters, momentous experiences, and major milestones in narratives.

‌This story is certainly no exception. Right from verse 1, we should be thinking “Oh man, Jesus is leading a small group of people up a mountain…something BIG is probably about to happen!”

‌The Mashup

‌Alright, now, this happens to be another passage that is fun to compare against other gospel accounts.

All three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, include this story. But as is always the case there are small varying nuances to each…some details added or left out.

So I want to stop here for a moment and highlight some of the differences in Mark and Luke.

Mark

‌Let’s start by looking at Mark. We can find this same story in the beginning of Mark chapter nine, if you want to look it up.‌

I’m not going to read through the whole passage, I’m just going to show it mashed up with Matthew.

It’s worded almost exactly like Matthew’s, but there are a few differences. I’ve highlighted all the places where the words themselves are different:

MatthewMark

‌So, where Matthew says “shone like the sun” Mark says “became dazzling” and where Matthew says “white as the light” Mark says “white as no launderer on earth could whiten them.” They’re describing the same thing, just using different imagery.‌

Then, we get a little more insight into Peter’s mindset when Mark explains why Peter said what he did: it was because he did not know what to say, since they were terrified! Matthew mentions the terror later on, but Mark attributes Peter’s statement to this fear and bewilderment. It’s a fun little side-note: “He had no idea what he was saying, so just ignore that, they were scared out of their minds.”

Mark has “overshadowed” instead of “covered.”

Then, at the end we have another added detail, where he says they did keep what they saw to themselves, so they obeyed Jesus, but they also questioned what did Jesus mean when he said he would rise from the dead?

Jesus has been telling them he’s going to be killed and resurrected, but they still just cannot wrap their minds around this. They are baffled.

‌Luke

‌Alright, NOW let’s add Luke…and this is where things get even more interesting.

Alright, so remember how we were talking about the significance of the detail of six days? Well, Luke doesn’t seem to think that it was all that significant!

MatthewMarkLuke

‌He doesn’t even say it was six days, does he? He says “About eight days...”

Now, he’s not necessarily contradicting the other two, because you could say that six days is “about” eight days, right? It’s “around” that number, in the ballpark of a week.

It’s possible Luke simply wasn’t sure about the exact number, whereas Matthew and Mark were.

Even more likely though is that Matthew and Mark were referring to six FULL 24-hour days, whereas Luke was including partial days at the beginning and end of that stretch of time.

‌Either way, my conclusion is that really the main point is that it was about a week later, fairly soon after that last conversation, and we really don’t need to read much more into it!

Luke adds a few more interesting details too, though.

It says that Jesus led them up the mountain, not just to be alone, but to pray! And that it was while Jesus was praying that he was transformed.

That’s significant, because it’s once again showing Jesus modeling prayer as his go-to spiritual discipline in every situation, and as gift from God that we should cling to with the very core of our being, the fact that we can communicate to God, that we can speak to him, and that he listens! Jesus models prayer as a cause and effect practice.

It’s not that God is a robotic slave to our every beck and call, it’s that he is a loving Father who wants to hear his children’s desires, joys, and struggles. Our confession and repentance, our praise and worship. He wants us to share our lives with him.

In the case of Jesus, of course, him being God and all, this particular prayer was followed by something rather spectacular!

We’ll talk about that in a minute, but let’s finish going through Luke’s details.

Luke adds that when Moses and Elijah appeared, they appeared “in glory” and that what they spoke with Jesus about, specifically, was “his departure, which he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.” That’s kind of interesting. Boy, wouldn’t you love to be able to have heard that conversation?‌

Apparently, the disciples didn’t catch it because they fell asleep! 

Now, it’s not clear if they had fallen asleep simply because it was late at night, and Jesus was praying through the night…we know this to happen with them…or if they were caused by divine intervention to go to sleep, which has also been known to happen, but apparently they woke up to this commotion, which I imagine would only add to their terror and confusion!

Luke also adds that Peter didn’t know what he was saying, which I find funny.

He also mentions that they were afraid even when the cloud came over them, and then adds one other significant detail in the message that comes from the voice in the cloud:

The voice calls Jesus not just his beloved Son, but “the chosen one.” He straight up calls him the Messiah! Amazing!

The disciples could not ask for a more straightforward and memorable validation of Jesus’s identity to which they had confessed just days before.

The Shining

Alright, let’s talk about the shining.‌

No, not THAT shining!!! (I couldn’t resist!)

The shining face and clothes!

‌Between Matthew, Mark, and Luke, they say that:

‌His face shown “like the sun” and “became dazzling.”

‌and

‌His clothes were as “white as light” as “no launderer on earth could whiten them.”

‌Does this language ring any bells? Has anything similar happened to anyone before?

Something VERY similar happened to Moses, after he met with God, on a mountain.

Exodus 34:29–30 CSB
29 As Moses descended from Mount Sinai—with the two tablets of the testimony in his hands as he descended the mountain—he did not realize that the skin of his face shone as a result of his speaking with the Lord. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face shone! They were afraid to come near him.

‌The parallels to Moses continue, even before Moses himself shows up!

‌However, notice that Jesus is transfigured, not just in the skin of his face, but his whole body, his clothes and everything is shining!

‌This is actually sounding more like Daniel’s description of God in Daniel chapter 7, which, by the way is all about the “son of man” being crowned king of the universe. Check it out:

‌Daniel 7:9–10 CSB

9 “As I kept watching, 

thrones were set in place,

and the Ancient of Days took his seat.

His clothing was white like snow,

and the hair of his head like whitest wool.

His throne was flaming fire; 

its wheels were blazing fire. 

10 A river of fire was flowing, 

coming out from his presence. 

Thousands upon thousands served him; 

ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. 

The court was convened, 

and the books were opened.

What did Jesus just say in chapter 16 about possessing the glory of the Father?

‌Matthew 16:27 CSB
27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward each according to what he has done.

‌In each of these stories, whether it’s Moses, the Ancient of Days, or Jesus, they are all tapping into a deeply rooted Jewish and ancient-near-eastern concept of associating bright, glowing objects with the divine.

‌Think of celestial bodies like stars, the moon, and planets being worshiped as deities, or at least as representing deities. Think of how at creation, Yahweh appointed those bright heavenly bodies as rulers of the day and night, showing his authority over even the brightest and highest of them.

‌Bright, shining white light is used as the visual description of the concept of “glory” all throughout scripture. In many cases, “glory” and “light” are nearly synonymous. I could go on quite a rabbit trail on that topic, but I’ll just leave it at that for now.

The Visitors

‌Let’s talk about the visitors. Jesus gets a visit from none other than Moses and Elijah! Two of the most significant figures of the Old Testament and of Jewish history!

Moses is known as the spokesperson for Yahweh through whom the law was given. Moses is a symbol for the law and everything it stands for. In fact, the name “Moses” was used, and we’ve seen it used even in Matthew, as a term synonymous with “The Law.” To refer to “Moses” in many contexts is shorthand for “The Law of Moses.”

Elijah on the other hand is one of the most iconic, recognizable, and certainly one of the most colorful of the prophets. As such, Elijah stands here as a representative for all the prophets, and the writings of the prophets.

‌Together, Moses & Elijah standing witness to the transformed Christ, represent both the law and the prophets standing as witness to the same.

Again, this is just about as validating a spectacle as to the divine nature of Jesus and his role as messiah as you could possibly get. This is Yahweh affirming his anointed one through the sources which the Jews had held most dear to their core for millennia. This is massive.

The Shelters

‌Alright, now how about the response we get from Peter, James and John?

Well, we know that all three of them were literally scared witless! And it seems only Peter had the guts to say anything, which is classic Peter isn’t it? Simon Peter is always the one willing to speak up and take action! It’s like he always wants to make sure to DO something, even if it’s not the right thing, he can’t just sit idly by as a passive observer. He’s the one that jumps out of the boat, he’s the one that rebukes Jesus, he’s the one that chops off a guy’s ear in defense of his king.

I think God makes special people like that because we need them. And there’s a reason Jesus called Simon the rock on which he would build his church. After all, he was the first to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of God.

So, I gotta have respect for the guy. But, in this case after actually witnessing Jesus as Messiah and Son of God, he is so dazzled that he has no idea what he’s saying. 

“Lord, Rabbi, Teacher, it’s a good thing you brought us with you, so we can make three shelters here!”

Shelters are just not what they need right now.

So, why would that have been the first thing that came to his mind?

Well, specifically, if you compare the original wording and different translations, he specifically wanted to set them up “as memorials” to commemorate this momentous occasion. Remember, Peter probably thought the Kingdom was about to be ushered in with full glory, and he wanted to memorialize the moment somehow! He still thinks that when Jesus is finally about to leave, and promises to send the Holy Spirit, Peter asks him:

‌Acts 1:6 CSB
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?”

‌But the word translated “shelter” here is literally “tabernacle,” which is a temporary dwelling, basically a tent. Again, this is exactly what Moses did in Exodus, to facilitate meeting with God:

Exodus 33:7–11 LEB
7 And Moses took the tent and pitched it outside the camp far from the camp, and he called it the tent of assembly, and all seeking Yahweh would go out to the tent of assembly, which was outside the camp. 8 And at the going out of Moses to the tent, all the people would rise and stand, each at the opening of his tent, and gaze after Moses until his entering the tent. 9 And at the entering of Moses into the tent the column of cloud would descend and stand at the opening of the tent, and he would speak with Moses. 10 And all the people would see the column of cloud standing at the opening of the tent, and all the people would rise and bow in worship, each at the opening of his tent. 11 And Yahweh would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his neighbor. And he would return to the camp, and his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not leave the middle of the tent.

‌So, I guess I can see a couple reasons Peter might have gone right to thinking about making tabernacles, but it just wasn’t the right thing at the right time.

This  becomes evident when he’s interrupted, literally “while he was still speaking” which is kind of funny. God doesn’t even let him finish his silly thoughts, he just straight up interrupts him with a scary bright cloud!

So yeah, his idea was rejected.

The Bright Cloud

But that brings us to the “bright cloud.” Not only is this thing bright, but it speaks!

‌Again, this imagery is VERY consistent with other accounts of God’s presence. Again, going back to Moses and Israel in Exodus. 

Exodus 34:5 LEB
5 And Yahweh descended in the cloud, and he stood with him there, and he proclaimed the name of Yahweh.

Exodus 16:10 LEB
10 And at the moment of Aaron’s speaking to all the community of the Israelites, they turned to the desert, and just then the glory of Yahweh appeared in the cloud.

Exodus 40:35 LEB
35 And Moses was unable to go into the tent of assembly because the cloud settled on it and the glory of Yahweh filled the tabernacle.

‌As with light, we see clouds used as an image associated the presence of God, with power, and glory.

In fact, the second coming of Jesus is described in exactly this way:

Luke 21:27 CSB
27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

‌So the cloud is clearly yet another tie to Moses, and another symbol of God’s power, glory, and proximity to them. But it doesn’t just sit there does it?

A voice comes from it! Again, consistent with previous encounters with Yahweh, this is understood to be the voice of God speaking from the cloud.

‌God the Father is confirming what Peter had stated a few days ago, that Jesus is his son. Not just his son, but dearly loved son, in whom he was well pleased. His son who was faithfully and obediently enacting God’s will on Earth in a way no human had ever done since. 

This is the second such declaration, with identical words as were spoken from heaven at Jesus’s baptism. The Father affirmed the Son at the beginning of his ministry, and now again as he prepares to come to the end of it. During that time, Jesus had never messed up, never did anything to displease the Father. A remarkable thing!

And the voice says “Listen to him,” a simple but dramatic command that affirms Jesus as a true prophet, not a false one, who truly speaks for God. And again, this brings to mind the command from Moses to “LISTEN!” to the law. “Listen, Israel, Hear and Obey Yahweh.” This is the same command, but towards Jesus.

And having preceded that command with the declaration of Jesus as his Son, Jesus is elevated above any other prophet, including Moses or Elijah. Of those three, Jesus is a prophet, yes, but also much more. He is the “Son of Man” of Daniel 7 who is the king of all creation. He is Yahweh incarnate.

The Aftermath

‌Alright, let’s look at how the disciples and Jesus react to this event.

The Fear

The disciples were enveloped by the sheer power and glory of Yahweh, it’s no wonder they were terrified! This is a common occurrence when humans experience the glory of God so closely.

Even the great prophets responded this way. Isaiah, Daniel, they fell to the ground terrified when approached by God.

So, the disciples, understandably fall on their faces, and don’t get up until Jesus comes and comforts them. I’m sure they were still shaken, but by then Moses and Elijah are gone, things are back to normal, and they start to head back down the mountain. It’s then that Jesus gives them a command.

The Secrecy

Once again, we have Jesus charging his disciples NOT to tell anyone what happened. What’s with the secrecy?

‌Well, again, it’s only a temporary silence…the time is not yet right. And he actually specifies this time, until the time has come that he “departs” from them. This kind of makes sense given that his departure was the topic of conversation between Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.

Of course, we know from Luke, that the disciples were then just confused about what he meant, they still didn’t understand what was about to happen.

‌Application/Conclusion

‌Alright, to wrap up let’s just take a step back and look at the significance of this story in the big picture of scripture.

‌The word of God which was spoken through Moses and the prophets…that is, the Old Testament…it all pointed to Jesus. 

Moses predicted a prophet like himself, to whom Israel must listen:

Deuteronomy 18:15 LEB
15 “Yahweh your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst, from your countrymen, and to him you shall listen.

‌Now, the final word is spoken by and in the person of God’s Son. John opens his gospel this way:

John 1:1–5 CSB
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it.

‌Keep reading through the rest of the chapter and he continues to elaborate on that.

The writer of Hebrews also writes about this concept in his opening statements:

Hebrews 1:1–4 CSB
1 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors by the prophets at different times and in different ways. 2 In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. God has appointed him heir of all things and made the universe through him. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. 4 So he became superior to the angels, just as the name he inherited is more excellent than theirs.

‌Both these books, John and Hebrews, come right out with the big truth right off the bat. They skip the narrative journey and just dive into big theological truths.

But they only understand these truths in the hindsight of witnessing Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection, and, crucially, the subsequent gift of the Holy Spirit indwelling all who place their faith in Christ.

At this point in our narrative of Matthew, the disciples are still very confused. After Jesus ascended they were still confused. But on the day of Pentecost, when they receive the spirit, their eyes are opened, and they spit the truth to all who would listen. Peter himself gives an incredible sermon standing in the same place Jesus was teaching before.

The truth has been revealed to us. We live in an unprecedented age of access to God’s Word, of scholars delving the depth of its wisdom and beauty and sharing it with us. Don’t take that for granted! Yes, we live in a fallen world full of suffering and depravity, but we also live in the church age, with more people on this Earth loving and worshiping God than ever before in history, because of Christ. And because he suffered for us, for our sin, we have the incredible hope of one day entering a world that is free of suffering, and of joining him in glory. 

‌Romans 8:17 CSB
17 and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

‌As Daniel says,

Daniel 12:3 CSB
3 Those who have insight will shine 

like the bright expanse of the heavens, 

and those who lead many to righteousness, 

like the stars forever and ever.

‌In the meantime, we are meant to bring that glorious light to the darkness in the world around us! As representatives, reflections, imitators of Jesus, we may not physically glow with glory…yet…but we can still “shine” figuratively, as we are called to so often, by Jesus in the sermon on the mount, by the prophets of the Old Testament, and in the letters from apostle Paul.

Jesus says in Matthew 5 to “Let your light shine before others” and Matthew 13 that the righteous will “shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Proverbs 4:18 says the “path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.”

Paul says:​

Philippians 2:15 CSB
15 so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world,

‌and

‌2 Corinthians 4:6 CSB
6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

‌Jesus was the first light to spark a wildfire. Let us burn brightly and spread abundantly, to bring more into the warm embrace of Christ and all Glory to God.

‌Benediction


The Transfiguration

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North Country Fellowship Church
NCF was started in 1987 to minister to the growing population of Fort Drum and Jefferson County. Located in Carthage, just minutes away from Ft Drum, Lowville and Watertown, it is a blended congregation of local and military folks, single soldiers, young families and grandparents.