The Transfiguration of Christ

We continue today to meditate on who Jesus is. We have been saying the last few days that the Holy Scriptures, Old and New Testament, prove that Christ is God in the flesh, coming into the world for a specific purpose—that of being a sacrificial Lamb of God who would pay the sin-debt of all those who will trust in Him.

On one occasion, Jesus took three of His disciples to the top of a mountain. While they were there, something happened to Him that the three witnessed. Christians call the event the Transfiguration. Here’s what the scripture says:

As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning (Luke 9:29).

The Metamorphosis

The Gospel writer Mark records what happened with these words, “There He was transfigured before them” (Mark 9:2). Mark uses the Greek word, Metamorphoo, translated into the English word transfigured. We get our word, metamorphosis, from this Greek word to describe the change that takes place when a caterpillar morphs into a butterfly. The word literally means to change form, to alter fundamentally, a change of place or condition. This was the revealing of His inner supernatural glory being seen on the outside by the three disciples that were witnesses of His glory.

Let’s look at a passage that will help us explain what was happening. Paul the Apostle, writing to the church at Philippi, tells us about Christ in this way:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness (Philippians 2:6-7).

The Greek word that is translated made nothing is the word Kenoo. The word means to empty, to void, to make empty, to be without content, to be made ineffectual. It means to empty something of its power, to render insignificant, to cause to be irrelevant. The mystery of the Gospel is that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19). When Jesus left heaven and the glory He had with the Father, He became fully man and voluntarily accepted the restrictions upon Him as a man without laying aside His nature as God. At the same time as becoming man, He was fully God. The Lord was allowing the three disciples to see beyond the veil of the flesh to Who He is in essence. Not only that but also at the same time, they were seeing two others, Moses and Elijah, in the glorious state that they now have in the realm beyond the flesh. This metamorphosis will also take place in the believer in Christ. The Lord was encouraging the disciples that, in their denying of themselves, inner glory would be the result, and this glory from God would be manifest in the future, just as Elijah and Moses’ were. What God is doing on the inside of us, i.e. our spirit man, will come to the outside.

For a more detailed study of the Transfiguration of Christ, go to the Luke studies at the top of the middle column, click on it and scroll down until you get to study number 21, the Transfiguration of Christ.

Keith Thomas

The Evidence of His Fulfillment of Old Testament Prophecy

We are continuing to ask, what is the evidence that Jesus is God in the flesh? There is evidence in His fulfilment of prophecy written many years before His birth:

Wilbur Smith, the American writer on theological topics, said:

The ancient world had many different devices for determining the future, known as divination, but not in the entire gamut of Greek and Latin literature, even though they used the words prophet and prophecy, can we find any real specific prophecy of a great historic event to come in the distant future, nor any prophecy of a Savior to arrive in the human race…Islam cannot point to any prophecies of the coming of Mohammed uttered hundreds of years before his birth.  Neither can the founders of any cult in this country rightly identify any ancient text specifically foretelling their appearance.[1]

Yet in the case of Jesus, He fulfilled more than three hundred prophecies, written about Him, including 29 of them in a single day—the day He died. Many of them could not be controlled by Him. Some perhaps would say that He set out to fulfill them on His own. But how do you control the place of your birth prophesied in Micah 5:2 of the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem? This prophecy was written hundreds of years previous as to the place of His birth, and yet fulfilled in detail of Jesus’ birth. What about as to where He would be buried? Isaiah the prophet said that Messiah would be put to death with the wicked, but yet buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9). This was literally fulfilled when Jesus was crucified in the midst of two robbers, and buried in Joseph of Arimathea’s new tomb. What about the prophecy that the Roman soldiers would cast lots for His clothes while He was hanging on the cross found in Psalm 22:18? This also was literally fulfilled by Jesus according to John 19:54.

The Evidence is huge, if you are really open to receive it and Him.

Keith Thomas

[1] Wilbur Smith, The Incomparable Book, (Beacon Publications, 1961).

What Evidence Is There to Support the Deity of Christ? (Part 2)

What is the evidence that Jesus is God in the flesh?

1) His Teaching.

The teaching of Jesus is widely acknowledged to be the greatest teaching that has ever fallen from anyone’s lips. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” “Love your enemies, “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5-7).

Bernard Ramm, an American Professor of theology, said this about the teachings of Jesus:

They are read more, quoted more, loved more, believed more, and translated more because they are the greatest words ever spoken…Their greatness lies in the pure lucid spirituality in dealing clearly, definitively, and authoritatively with the greatest problems that throb in the human breast…No other man’s words have the appeal of Jesus’ words because no other man can answer these fundamental human questions as Jesus answered them. They are the kind of words and the kind of answers we would expect God to give.[1]

Could this teaching really come from a con man or a madman?

2) His Works. Some say that Christianity is boring. It would not be boring being around Jesus. When He went to a party, He changed a huge amount of water into wine (John 2:1-11), and the best wine that the wine taster had tasted.

What about when He went to a funeral? He told them to take the stone away and to loose the bandages off of Lazarus! (John 11).

What about going to a picnic with Jesus when all they had was 5 loaves and 2 fish? (Mark 6:41).

What about going to the hospital with Jesus, when there was a man lying there who had been an invalid for 36 years? He told him to get up. He healed him completely (John 5:5).

What about His death? —laying down His life for His friends (John 15:13).

3) His character.

Bernard Levin wrote of Jesus: “Is not the nature of Christ, in the words of the New Testament, enough to pierce to the soul anyone with a soul to be pierced? He still looms over the world, his message still clear, his pity still infinite, his consolation still effective, his words still full of glory, wisdom and love.”

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham, describes the character of Jesus in his autobiography, The Door Wherein I Went, how the person of Jesus came alive to him when he was in college:

“The first thing we must learn about him is that we should have been absolutely entranced by his company.  Jesus was irresistibly attractive as a man…what they crucified was a young man, vital, full of life and the joy of it, the Lord of life itself, and even more the Lord of laughter, someone so utterly attractive that people followed him for the sheer fun of it…the Twentieth Century needs to recapture the vision of this glorious and happy Man whose mere presence filled his companions with delight. No pale Galilean He, but a veritable Pied Piper of Hamelin who would have the children laughing all round Him and squealing with pleasure and joy as He picked them up.”[2]

Are you convinced as to His deity yet?

Keith Thomas

[1] Bernard Ramm, Protestant Christian Evidence (Moody Press).

[2] Lord Hailsham, The Door Wherein I Went, (Fount/Collins, 1975).

Jesus’ Direct Claims to be God

His direct claim to be the Messiah or Christ.

26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:26-29).

Jesus didn’t say, Hey, hang on a second; you’ve gone a bit too far there. He basically said, you were a bit slow to get the point, “stop doubting and believe” (Verse 27).

His direct claim to be God the Son.

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 63The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64“You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as worthy of death (Mark 14:61-64).

If you only had one opportunity to take people to one passage of scripture in order to show them a direct claim to be God by Jesus, it is found in John’s Gospel:

30I and the Father are one.” 31Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” 33“We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God” (John 10:30-33).

Claims like this need to be tested. All sorts of people make all kinds of claims. The mere fact that somebody claims to be someone does not mean the claim is right. Some people are deluded, thinking they are Napoleon, the Pope, or the Antichrist.

So how can we test people’s claims? Jesus claimed to be the unique Son of God; God made flesh. There are three logical possibilities. If the claims were untrue, either He knew they were untrue, in which case He is an imposter, and an evil one at that. That is the first possibility. Or He did know, in which case He was deluded; indeed, He was mad. That is the the second possibility. The third possibility is that the claims were true.

The writer C.S. Lewis put it like this:

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic, on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg, or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse…but let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.[1]

Keith Thomas

[1] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, First Published by Geoffrey Bles, 1952.

Jesus’ Indirect Claim to be God

Jesus said a number of things, which, although not direct claims to be God, show that he regarded Himself as being in the same position as God, as we will see in one or two examples from Mark’s Gospel.

Authority to forgive sins

3Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7“Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11“I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (Mark 2:3-12).

This claim to be able to forgive sins is indeed an astonishing claim.

C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, puts it well when he writes,

One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to.  I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins.  Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic.  We can all understand how a man forgives offenses against himself.  You tread on my toe and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you.  But what should we make of a man, himself unrobed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money?  Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give his conduct.  Yet, this is what Jesus did.  He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured.  He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the person chiefly offended in all offenses.  This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws were broken and whose love is wounded in every sin.  In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivaled by any other character in history.

His claim to be the Judge of the World.

Another extraordinary indirect claim is that He would one day judge the world (Matthew 25:31-32).  He said that He would return and “sit on His throne in heavenly glory” (vs.31). All the nations would be gathered before Him. He would pass judgment on them. Some would receive an inheritance prepared for them since the creation of the world and eternal life, but others would suffer the punishment of being separated from Him forever.

My hope is that He will be your Savior rather than your judge. May God open your heart in order that you may reach out to Him in faith to be your Savior and Lord.

Keith Thomas