THE APPROBATION OF GOD
BY: WADE E. TAYLOR
“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John His brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them.” Matt. 17:1-2a
Only three within the twelve were chosen to witness the transfiguration of Jesus into visible glory. There was a progression that led to this.
At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus fasted all night and then chose twelve disciples. They lived and moved with Him as He ministered for two and a half years. Then Jesus said to them, “Who am I?”
If the pictures in Christian bookstores were accurate, Peter, being an extrovert, would have spoken up and said, “It is very obvious.” But we have a description in Isaiah 53:2 as to how Jesus looked. “For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground. He has no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.”
He became known as Jesus of Nazareth, a place of reproach. Nazareth was located between the Jewish and the Gentile states. The Jew that married a Gentile was rejected by both. The Jews would not accept him because of the Gentile, and the Gentiles would not accept him because of the Jew. Therefore, they were accepted by none and were despised by all.
Jesus gave Nazareth as his address. It could only be known by revelation that He was truly “Jesus of Bethlehem.” Jesus chose a visage that would not be attractive to man, so He could be known only by revelation.
Peter responded to this question concerning His identity and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus then said that he was blessed, because “flesh and blood” had not revealed this to him. In other words, Jesus told Simon-Barjona that he had identified Him, not by observation, but rather, by revelation. Peter had heard from the Father.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” Phil. 2:5-7
For Jesus to be equal to God means that He is God. Yet He so “emptied” Himself of Deity that He could only be known by revelation. Jesus so depended on His Father that there was no evident power or authority resident within Him. Thus, Jesus could say, “Simon Barjona, you are now Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church.” The word “Peter” means “a small stone.” Jesus is the “rock” who continually heard from the Father. Now Simon Barjona has heard and is therefore of the same substance as Jesus.
Jesus then told Peter that He will build His Church on this quality of revelation – the ability to hear from the Father, as He hears. Now Peter is ready to receive power and authority to function in ministry in order to build the Church.
After two and one-half years of ministry, Jesus has one convert. He had to wait this long before He dared to ask this crucial question, “Who am I?” But after one sermon on the day of Pentecost, three thousand were added to the Church, as Peter spoke the words that he heard by revelation.
Thus, the “rock” that the Church is built upon is the “ability” to hear from the Father and speak His words. Jesus said that He only did the things which He saw the Father doing. Now, those who follow Him can do the same.
Jesus then told Peter that He would give him the “keys to the Kingdom.” These keys are the ability to hear a specific word and then act on that word. The “key” means that we have received an empowered, creative word from the Lord that will open the door to the situation we face.
Now the ministry of Jesus is finished, as He has one who hears from the Father, as He hears. All that remains is for Jesus to get ready to die on the cross.
“From that time forth began Jesus to shew to His disciples, how that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.” Matt 16:21
It took Jesus two-and-a-half years to get one convert. Now He is about to trust all that follows on the one person who is hearing. This tells us the importance of hearing from the Father, and then acting on what we have heard
There are only two things that remain for Jesus to reveal before going to the cross to die for our sin, the cross and the glory.
FIRST, JESUS REVEALED THE CROSS.
“Then said Jesus to His disciples, If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Matt. 16:24
The cross that we are to take up always cuts across the “I will” with “Thy will.” It means that I make a decision to die to my will and ways, and submit to His will and ways in ongoing obedience.
There are those who stop at the cross, who are forever dying and checking as to how dead they are. I remember a word shared by Hattie Hammond in 1967 about an over-emphasis on the cross.
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say to you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Matt. 6:28-29
Underneath the surface of the earth is a bulb that is dying, from which the life of the lily issues. Jesus did not say, “consider the bulb, how it is dying so the lily can live.”
The Adamic nature must be buried so the Christ-life can issue forth from it. Thus, Jesus is saying, “Behold the new creation life that has come forth from that which has been committed to the earth.”
We are prone to share our sufferings and our trials, but Jesus said that we are to anoint our face to shine, so we do not give the appearance of fasting. We are to go beyond the cross and enter into “the more abundant life” that Jesus came to give us. Thus, Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Gal. 2:20
The purpose of our redemption is not merely to get us into heaven. Rather, it is for us to come into an active life of abiding in His presence, as a functioning member of His body. Thus, we are to go past the cross to the glory.
“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light.” Matt. 17:1-2
The word does not tell us the reference point for this six days. Thus, this “six days” can be understood as being prophetic of our day, as we are at the end of man’s six days, and are approaching the Millennial seventh day. Therefore, we are greatly privileged, as we are living in the time when the transfigured glory, which the disciples saw, will be made manifest in the present day Church.
Second Peter 2:5 gives us a further word on the purpose of His glory being made available to us.
“You also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” I Peter 2:5
These “lively stones” speak of His glory resting upon us, so as to be seen by others. There are two purposes which our Lord’s manifest glory will accomplish.
First, in the reflection of His glory, we see ourselves as we are, and as a result, we are changed. This happened to Isaiah in Isaiah 6:1-7. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” II Cor. 3:18
As we become this “lively stone,” others will see His presence and will come to receive from us.
“Arise, shine; for your light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon you, and his glory shall be seen upon you. And the Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” Isa. 60:1-3
The cross then is to lead us to the Glory. As we begin to hear as Peter heard, we will become as the three within the twelve, and the Lord will take us up to the mount of transfiguration. There, we will see Him as He is, and we will be changed and made ready for the age to come.
APPROBATION OF GOD, THE [Wade E. Taylor] 1