Glory is Coming
BACK TO THE START
This morning I want to take you all the way back to Luke chapter 1.
We’ve been here in the book of Luke for a couple of months now, and I don’t want us to lose sight of why the book of Luke was written. And God was gracious to us, in that the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to tell us how this book came to be.
Luke 1:1-4 – I mean you can see pretty clearly what’s happening here, right? Luke is one of many people who have written about Jesus. But there is a specific person who needs to be encouraged in their faith, a very specific person named Theophilus, who Luke cares for and is concerned about. Luke took the time to carefully investigate all of the details and information surrounding Jesus, similar to what is happening with the Neighborhood 360, right? We’re investigating the details of Riverside so we can be certain that we are helping in the right places.
But Luke’s goal was that at end of his investigation, he would write a narrative for Theophilus that would bring CERTAINTY to the things he had been told… that at the end of reading Luke’s account of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, that Theophilus and whomever reads it, would have no doubts that what he had been told was in fact true.
Because the question Theophilus had to answer, and the question you and I have to answer at some point in our lives is the question we saw Jesus ask to his disciples last week: Who do you say that I am? We said there is no more important question you can be asked than, “Who do you say that Jesus is?” Peter’s answer was that Jesus is God’s Messiah. If you look at how he answered that question, Peter believes Jesus came from God – he’s God’s Messiah, but the disciples don’t yet know really what that means. In their minds, he’s most likely a political Messiah, a political deliverer who will rescue them from the hands of Roman oppression – They don’t know yet that Jesus is God. Only after his resurrection and ascension will they really be able to get their arms around that.
Then in 21-26, Jesus predicts his own suffering and says that if you want to follow him, it looks like living for someone else’s will, denying yourself, and daily being crucified for following Jesus.
It’s like, ooof. That’s heavy. This Christian life is going to be hard. It’s not just a rabbit’s foot good luck charm that makes everything go smoothly. Jesus isn’t a political savior who will deliver you from the liberals, or from the conservatives. In fact, following him actually might make life even more difficult than it already is. So if you’re Theophilus and you’re reading these words of Jesus, you might also say, I would like a guarantee that this works out, you know? You might want a bit of a guarantee, a bit of sign that you’re on the right track.
CAN YOU GIVE ME A PREVIEW?
I know a lot of you who enjoy baking, especially cookies, you might take a little dip into the cookie dough, because you need a little preview, right? Make sure it’s good. Or if you’re making soup, if you’re like my wife who enjoys throwing a little of this and a little of that into soup, you want to taste it from time to time to preview how it’ll be, to make sure it’s good.
There are all kinds of previews though in our life – You may see movies previewed on TV or YouTube, and you base your decision to see it or not based on the previews. Some of you, when you were in high school, or for those who are still in high school, you might do a job shadow with someone, or a prospective student day at a college. Those are previews. You’re getting to see what a day in that college or university or school is like. A preview, a sleek peek, can be a promise of the future, in a sense, saying This is what you can expect if you come here, or watch this movie or work at this job.
EIGHT DAYS LATER...
In verse 27 of Luke 9, after all that Jesus said about what it would mean to follow him, he offers a somewhat cryptic statement that leads into a preview of sorts:
 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God."
What on earth does he mean by that? "Some of you will not die until you see the kingdom of God."
- On one hand, some of you disciples won’t die before the Messiah fulfills everything in all his glory? Like some will die, but some won’t? Meaning he’s going to have this whole thing wrapped up that soon!? Some of the disciples will see it in their lifetime?!
- On the other hand, hasn’t he been proclaiming that the kingdom is already partially here in his ministry? But he can’t be referring to himself bringing the kingdom because he makes it sound like it’s something that’s still coming in the future. If it was here now in his ministry, you’d think he’d have worded things a little differently.
This is where I’ll give you a Bible-reading tip that sometimes is helpful in making sense of things like this. When you’re reading scripture and you see little phrases like this in verse  About eight days after this conversation, that’s what you call a transition or a connector. Luke is using those words to specifically tell us that what is about to happen pertains to or draws from or relies on the previous conversation.
So Luke is pulling that conversation along into this next scene, saying what Jesus just talked about goes with what’s coming next… about 8 days after saying I’m going to die, you need to pick up your cross daily and follow me, and by the way, some of you will be seeing the kingdom before you die…
…he took along Peter, John, and James and went up on the mountain to pray.
DEPENDENT LIKE JESUS
Luke is very fond of telling us how often Jesus prayed. What he wants Theophilus to know is that Jesus was dependent on his Heavenly Father. He was dependent enough to pray. Let me just say this… if you think that you can be a thriving, growing, healthy Christian without prayer, you’re not following the example of Jesus. If you think we can be a thriving, growing, healthy Church without prayer, we’re not following Jesus. The reason we pray every Sunday, no matter how uncomfortable it might be, is because River City is going to be a church where we pray together to express our dependence on Jesus. And if Jesus thought it was important to pray with other people, I think we are on the right track.
 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white.  Suddenly, two men were talking with him – Moses and Elijah.  They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.
So while Jesus was praying, something a bit mysterious happened. The heading on that section of your Bible might call it a transfiguration, which simply means, his appearance changed. It’s not like he transformed into a completely different creature. He was still recognizable as Jesus. He had the features of a human. Luke says Jesus’ face was changed but Matthew in his gospel says his face “shone like the sun”, and even his clothes became dazzling white.
GUESTS OF HONOR
In that same moment, he was joined by two familiar people from the OT, Moses and Elijah.
- Moses was a prophet, which you can read about in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deut, who led the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. If you’re new to scripture, Moses was kind of a big deal. He was the deliverer; God’s representative; a leader who took Israel out of the clutches of slavery and to the Promised Land.
- Interestingly enough, Moses also had a moment in his life when his face shone like the sun, right after God spoke with him on Mt Sinai and gave him the 10 commandments.
- But perhaps most significantly, is that in Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses wrote this:  "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.
- Elijah was another one of the OT prophets, and you can read about him in the book of 1 Kings. Elijah was one prophet who frequently interacted with the poor, Gentiles, and outsiders (Green, 381). If you’re new to the Bible, the Old Testament ends in Malachi 4, by saying you’ll know the Day of the Lord is here when Elijah shows up. “He will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers” as they remember the instruction of Moses. So a Jewish person always had their eyes peeled for Elijah to show up one day. That was one of the markers that the promised Messiah was coming very soon.
So for Jesus to be joined by Moses (the prophet/deliverer) and Elijah (the prophet with a ministry to outsiders, who would reappear when the kingdom was close at hand), there is something very profound happening here.
Here’s what Luke says Jesus, Moses, and Elijah were talking about : they appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure which he was about to accomplish, or fulfill, in Jerusalem. It says they are talking about something that is about to go down in Jerusalem. What is going down in Jerusalem? Now because we have scripture in our hands, we can read the rest of the story, so we know what’s going to happen in Jerusalem – Death, resurrection, and ascension. But what is it that is “accomplished” or “fulfilled” by this departure in Jerusalem? As Jesus hangs on the cross he cries out, “it is finished!”
What is finished? The salvation and redemption of sinners; grace, forgiveness are all accomplished by Jesus death on the cross – but not just his death, but the entire story of deliverance and future promise that would be fulfilled by his resurrection and his ascension, which opens the door for the Holy Spirit to come and begin to impart this kingdom to those who believe.
So this is a wild moment right here that I’m guessing most of us will completely take for granted! But the fact that these two Old Testament prophets are here with Jesus, having the conversation they are having, is to say Jesus’ ministry does not replace their ministry – His ministry is a continuation of theirs!
For Moses to be standing here means the Exodus story of deliverance isn’t quite finished yet. It’s still going. There is still deliverance on the table. Moses did make it into the real Promised Land after all! For Elijah to be standing here with Jesus is to say “open your eyes! The Messiah is at hand!” This is one of those profound moments in scripture where we can see the Bible isn’t just a collection of a bunch of random stories. It is ONE UNIFIED STORY that points to Jesus – Moses knows it; Elijah knows it.
LET'S JUST STAY HERE FOR A WHILE
Meanwhile, Peter and the boys are out cold.  Peter and those with him were in a deep sleep… and when they became fully awake, (this is not a vision or a dream or a hallucination – it is reality happening right in front of them)…
- they saw his glory and the two men who were standing with him.
- Notice the language here – Back in verse 27 he said some of you won’t taste death until you see the kingdom of God. Luke helps us make the connection – they saw HIS GLORY. That’s the kingdom of God – the glorified, exalted Jesus. The King of the kingdom being seen for who he really is by some (Peter, James and John) who haven’t tasted death yet. This is not an out of body experience either.
- They are seeing him glorified, as he will be when the kingdom is fully realized. They are getting a sneak peek preview into the heavenly realm… like this is the first movie trailer for heaven!
-  As the two men were departing from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it's good for us to be here. Let us set up three shelters: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"-not knowing what he was saying.
- But they wake up, they see Jesus glorified, Moses, Elijah, and it’s not until they’re all shaking hands or whatever to start saying their goodbyes that Peter speaks up – you know, Lord, it’s really good that you brought us along. It’s good we are here right now. We can set up some shelters over here for you guys…
- I don’t know how long Peter and the fellas were awake before offering this suggestion. My guess is that their jaws are on the floor the whole time, and only now when it looks like thins are wrapping up, this is Peter’s way of saying “don’t go yet!”But it’s actually not necessarily that silly. Peter might be putting pieces together here, and understanding that this points to something major.
- The suggestion of shelters or booths is Peter suggesting that they celebrate a Jewish festival called the Feast of Tabernacles, which is similar to our Thanksgiving. This was a festival that God had established for Moses that “pointed to God’s provision in the wilderness and anticipated his ultimate deliverance” (Bock, 871).
- Peter seems to be saying, lets stretch this thing out for a week!
- Maybe you had a great birthday party or a two day vacation or a day off for some reason, and you thought the same thing – hey this is a blast. Let’s just book the room for a couple more nights and enjoy the sights, or whatever.
- That seems to be what Peter is doing here.
- But why does Luke say “Peter didn’t know what he was saying?” The commentators I read (Bock, Green) said that by building three equal shelters for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, that Peter was putting Jesus on equal footing with the prophets.We don’t really know much here, but this is probably Luke’s way of saying Peter and the other disciples still don’t have a clear picture of who Jesus really is.
GOD'S PRESENCE ARRIVES
-  While he was saying this, a cloud appeared and overshadowed them. They became afraid as they entered the cloud.
- While this might seem random to you and I that a cloud came out of nowhere and settled on this little group of people on top of a mountain, it’s quite significant.
- This isn’t the first time clouds are linked to the supernatural. In the book of Exodus, God instructed the people to build a tabernacle, which was a mobile place of worship, so the people could offer sacrifices and have their sin atoned for.
- In the innermost room of that tabernacle was the holiest place, where God’s presence would show up in a cloud. They knew God was in the building when they could see a cloud coming out of the heavens and settling on the tabernacle. A cloud over the tabernacle signified God’s presence. He himself was there.
- So for a cloud to show up here in the presence of Moses and Elijah and Jesus was is a tangible reminder of God’s presence and blessing and affirmation to what is happening.
- While this might seem random to you and I that a cloud came out of nowhere and settled on this little group of people on top of a mountain, it’s quite significant.
-  Then a voice came from the cloud, saying: "This is my Son, the Chosen One; listen to him!"  After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.
Does this sound familiar? If you’ve been here for the whole series in Luke so far, this should remind you of Jesus’ baptism, where his public ministry began. God’s voice again was audible as he said “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
For God to say “This is my Son, the Chosen One…” Is to say a hearty “amen” to Peter’s previous answer that Jesus is God’s Messiah! But more than just that, what was Jesus and Moses and Elijah just talking about? His upcoming death.
And immediately after that conversation, God swoops in on the mountaintop in a cloud and says audibly to everyone on the mountain: This is my Son, The Chosen one (or some translations, the Beloved One - the one I love)! Listen to him.
1. LISTEN TO MY SON
When God says “listen to him”, it points back to that verse in Deut 18. It’s as if God is saying to Peter, Jesus isn’t equal to Moses and Elijah, he is greater. Sit at his feet and learn from him the way to me. So Application #1 is that you can’t know who Jesus is unless you’re listening to him. Sitting at his feet and learning from him. The disciples didn’t have all the facts, but the more time they spend with him, the more they are starting to see things a little clearer. It wouldn’t be until after his resurrection and ascension that they were able to see him for who he really was.
2. SON, I LOVE YOU
But I think Application #2 is to see these words from the Father in the cloud as not just to the disciples who need to listen, but also to Jesus who is preparing to face death. God doesn’t just let Jesus hang out alone with the prospect of death – God affirms him as the chosen one. That is to say, Jesus, this is not going to be an easy moment, but my presence is here with you, you are loved! This death you’re about to experience is not an indicator that you are forgotten or forsaken. It’s going to feel like it. But everything is still right on schedule for the plan of redeeming sinful people with you paying the price of sin for them. You will face this death and suffering with my words ringing in your ears; You are my Son and I love you!
These words would have been so powerful to the disciples if they were really paying attention, because Jesus had just told them THEY had to pick up their cross and follow him, willing to deny themselves and be crucified over and over, but they can do so with God’s words ringing in their ears – you are my child and I love you!
THE PLAN OF REDEMPTION IS STILL ON SCHEDULE
Whatever it is you’re facing today – whether it seems like parenting is hard, singleness is hard, work is hard, marriage is hard, retirement or taking care of your aging parents is hard - whatever you’re facing today, things are right on schedule. The hardship you’re experiencing isn’t a sign that you are forgotten or forsaken. It might feel like it. It might feel like God is way behind schedule in your life, that he hasn’t helped you accomplish what you hoped you would accomplish by now.
But because Jesus carried out this plan, because he accomplished that departure in Jerusalem by dying the death I deserved, because God raised him on the third day to let the whole world know that the check for sin that Jesus wrote with his own life, his own blood, cleared the bank – you can walk into every trial of life, from changing a nasty diaper to even the most severe persecution, with God’s words ringing in your ears: You are my child, and I love you. I’ve got you. I’m with you. Your story doesn't end here. Glory is coming.
- Bock, Darrell L. 1994. Luke: 1:1–9:50. Vol. 1. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
- Green, Joel 1997. The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of Luke. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co
- Walter L. Liefeld, “Luke,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 8 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984), 923.