In part 1 of Up Close and Personal, Jesus began speaking plain and simple to His disciples. He prepared them for what was going to happen to Him. He was building up their faith in God. He needed them to know who they were putting their trust and faith into and why. He then shared how they, along with every believer which includes you and me, needs to respond to Christ.
Faith takes action. Do you want to follow Jesus? If so, Jesus explained what that looks like. Review Matthew 16:21-29.
Today, you will study Matthew 17:1-13. Six days had passed since Jesus challenged the disciples’ hearts and minds. In this passage, you see Jesus taking only three of His disciples with Him up a high mountain. He was going to take Peter, James and John to a deeper level of faith and understanding.
Jesus was going to meet them up close and personal.
What did Jesus do when they arrived on the high mountain; see verse 2? Two men were seen with Jesus, who were they; see verse 3?
Here is commentary (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck, page 59) on why Jesus had Moses and Elijah standing with Him for the three men to witness: “They represent the categories of people who will be in Jesus’ coming Kingdom. Jesus represents New Testament saints. Moses and Elijah are from the Old Testament. All believers, from the Old Testament and the New Testament, will experience a conscious existence with Christ after death. Read Luke 9:31 to learn what Jesus, Moses and Elijah were talking about. One day in the future, the Lord’s Kingdom will be on earth. When that happens, Moses represents saved individuals who have died or will die. Elijah represents saved individuals who will not experience death but will be caught up to heaven alive.”
Notice how Peter responded to what He saw in verse 4. He recognized the importance of understanding what Jesus was showing him. “It is wonderful for us to be here!” He wanted to memorialize the event.
Do you respond when in the presence of Christ like Peter did? Does Jesus reveal Himself to you in pertinent ways that cause you to be in awe? Has God’s Word become a memorial of your faith?
Not only did Peter, James and John experience Old Testament heroes, they heard directly from God! God gave them clear instructions on what to do with what they were experiencing. His words are the same for you and me today:
“This is My dearly beloved Son, who brings Me great joy. Listen to Him.”5
God has a way of coming up close and personal with those who choose to believe. He reveals Himself through His Son as the Holy Spirit enters a repentant heart. He continually deepens your thirst for Him. This happens as you learn to listen to the voice of God. Every disciple and prophet in the Bible learned this, and God used them to build up the Kingdom.
Standing in the very presence of God shook the three men. You and I would tremble in fear too. What did Jesus do for them, see verse 7?
Jesus’ touch calmed them. He gave them instructions. What were they? Jesus’ words strengthened them.
In verse 9, you read how they obeyed God. They listened to Jesus. The men went back down the mountain with Jesus. They could have chosen to run, to run far away from God, but they didn’t. They stayed with Him, abiding.
Do you run from God, when all He wants to do is reveal Himself to you? Do you get frightened by the unknown, the unknown of what God would ask of you? Maybe you don’t want to do what He is asking? You are uninterested. You feel incapable.
Verse 9 reveals the importance of God’s timing. God always has reasons for why He does things. In this instance, many were trying to make Jesus their king before it was time. If He was made king before His resurrection, Jesus would be like any other king on earth. So, the disciples were not to share their mountain top experience with anyone. When will they be allowed to share?
Jesus’ resurrection is the pivotal point in faith. It is what separates Christianity from all religions. Christianity isn’t a religion. Jesus is the relationship-style faith where He intimately walks up close and personal with you.
Jesus, in death, became the King of kings and Lord of Lords.
Verses 10-13 is another teaching moment that Jesus used to clarify any misunderstanding that the disciples had swimming in their minds. They would hear things from the religious teachers about Elijah, who they just saw in person, that he needed to come before the Messiah. Jesus cleared up their misunderstanding. Jesus wanted them to understand that many rejected Elijah’s messages, John the Baptist’s messages, and unfortunately Jesus’ message of hope, grace, mercy, and love. Truth will fall on many deaf ears.
Do you desire to walk up close and personal with Jesus like the disciples? I promise you; He will give you clarity and understanding wrapped in grace and love. Your heart, mind and soul will be home when you are in His presence.