Messiah: Witnessed by disciples
Scripture: Matthew 17:1-12; II Peter 1:16-18
Aim: To show the testimony of three disciples who were eyewitnesses to the deity of Jesus Christ.
Golden Text: “But (we) were eyewitnesses of His Majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (II Peter 1:16b-17).
The New Testament clearly presents Jesus Christ as the Messiah-Savior come to earth as a Man in order that He may rescue man from his awful fate as a rebellious sinner against Jehovah God, the only true God who made all things by the “word of His power.”
The Sunday School lessons for January and February present evidences and testimonies that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies to the Jews that a Deliverer would come as God’s Substitute for the sinner and die to pay the penalty of man’s sins.
These Scriptures reveal to us the witness of three of Jesus’ disciples (Peter, James and John) to the “glorified” character of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ (Anointed One) of Jehovah God.
Peter, James and John are considered to be especially associated with Jesus. They are given special privilege by Jesus. These three are the more prominent of the 12. Notice the text printed above, Peter wrote about the experience of these three disciples upon the mount of transfiguration.
I. Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him that they may have a special revelation regarding the true character of Jesus Himself (Matthew 17:1). Jesus took these three with Him to a “high mountain apart.” That is the mountain was high and isolated from the population of men (the other disciples included). He was preparing them for the special work of becoming the leaders of the church when He would leave them and return to Heaven. Luke says that Jesus went there to pray (Luke 9:28). These three were later admitted to the place Jesus’ place of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:33).
Those who would influence others to become followers of Jesus Christ need to have a close, intimate relationship with Christ. It is important to spend time alone with Christ in Bible study, meditation and prayer. This does at least two things. First, it draws one close to Christ in love, surrender and obedience. Second, it gives one the powerful presence of Christ with him in witnessing for Christ. This helps make one an effective witness.
II. Jesus was transfigured before the disciples (Matthew 17:2-12). First, Jesus was glorified in His human presence. This was the manifestation of the divine glory of Jehovah God that Israel had seen in the Old Testament time. This was the glory Christ had with the Father in eternity past (John 17:4-5).
Second, Moses and Elijah came in person to talk to Christ about His coming death (Luke 9:30-31).
Third, Peter suggested that three tabernacles be built on the mountain. He was elevating Moses and Elijah to the same position as Christ.
Fourth, God the Father immediately corrected Peter by overshadowing them and speaking from the cloud, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (vs. 4-5). Moses and Elijah were gone. Jesus and the disciples descended the mountain.
Fifth, Jesus instructed the disciples not to tell the experience until after His resurrection (vs. 9-12). Thus He indicated his coming death and resurrection in plain language to the three.
Today one may not have a vision as these disciples, but he can have an intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ through the Bible, prayer and meditation. Surrender to Christ and obedience to the Word of God helps one to become intimately associated with Christ as Savior and Lord.