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 the sacrificial Lamb of God who would pay the sin-debt of all who put their faith 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 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 who were witnesses of His glory.

Let’s look at a passage that will help 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. In the passage about the transfiguration, the Lord was allowing the three disciples to see beyond the veil of the flesh to Who He is in essence. Not only did they see Christ as He really is, but 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 change of nature or 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. How glorious will that time be! Keith Thomas

More Evidence of Christ’s Fulfillment of Old Testament Prophecy

As we did yesterday, we are continuing to ask what is the evidence that Jesus is God in the flesh? (Scroll down for yesterday’s thoughts). 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 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 What Christ Said?

We are continuing to meditate on the indirect as well as the direct claims by Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of God (Scroll down for yesterday’s thoughts). People make wild claims about themselves all the time, so what is the evidence that what Jesus said about Himself was actually true? Let’s explore some of the evidence:

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

Over the last couple of days, we have been thinking about Jesus’ indirect claims to be God (Scroll down for yesterday’s thoughts). So now we want to look at His direct claims 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) At another time, after Christ was arrested and stood before the high priest and elders, Christ clearly told them again who He is:

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).

You might have missed it. When Jesus said the words “I Am” in verse 62 above, this was the Greek form of the Hebrew name that God gave of Himself: And God said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14). 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 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 said, “I Am the Bread of Life.”

One of the fascinating things about Jesus is that so much of His teaching was centered on Himself. Don’t get me wrong, He was not self-centered. What I am saying is that His teaching was often about what He can do for us. He said to people, in effect, “If you want to have a relationship with God, you need to come to me” (see John 14:6). It’s through a relationship with Him that we encounter God.

In my younger years I was conscious of a missing piece to my life; it was though there was an inner void that was longing to be filled. Perhaps you yourself are aware of an inner dissatisfaction that you try to fill with things. This inner void is acknowledged by some of the leading psychologists of the twentieth century. They have all recognized that there is in the heart of every one of us, a deep void, a missing piece, a deep hunger.

Freud said, “People are hungry for love.”

Jung said, “People are hungry for security.”

Adler said, “People are hungry for significance.”

Jesus said, “I Am the Bread of Life” (John 6:48).

Jesus was saying, in effect, that if you want your hunger satisfied, come to Him. If He had been talking to an Asian person, He might have said, I am the rice of Life. Bread was the staple of life in Israel at the time. The Lord was saying that just as bread sustains the physical body, in the same way, your spiritual life will be sustained in Christ. If you are walking in darkness, He said, “I Am the Light of the World.” If you don’t know where to put your next step, trust the Lord Jesus, He will give light to your path.

I was very scared of death as a teenager, partly because of the dangerous job I was doing; I was a commercial fisherman working on a trawler with my father on the east coast of England. We worked out of a port that had been heavily mined by the Germans in both World Wars. We caught unexploded mines in our nets many times as our trawl net scraped the bottom of the North Sea. Often we had to lay the mine on our deck in order to cut our net around it so that we could winch it off the deck and get it back in the sea. It is very scary to have 1500 pounds of High Explosive rolling around on the deck. There was always the question that would come to me—where would I go if I were to die? That is one of the reasons I began my search for what life holds for us when we die. If you are fearful of death, Jesus said, “I Am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). This is what I mean by Jesus’ teaching being centered on Himself. He pointed to Himself as the answer to the missing piece in life.

Some are addicted to different things, drugs, alcohol, sex—Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). You can be totally set free from that which you are addicted to. Many are burdened with worries, anxieties, fears and guilt. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Have you ever found true rest of soul? Are you searching today for inner peace? Peace is the deliberate adjustment of our lives to the will of God. Only in Christ can there be a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). In another place, Christ said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). He said to receive Him was to receive God (Matthew 10:40), to welcome Him was to welcome God (Mark 9:37), and to have seen Him was to have seen God (John 14:9).

He really is the answer to whatever inner need you have. Keith Thomas