And after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and brought them up into a high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his clothing was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elijah talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if you will, let us make here three tabernacles; one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. While he yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear you him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, except Jesus only. (Matthew 17:1-8 KJ2000)
Here we have a clash of the two covenants — the old one that was based on the works of men and their adherence to the law and the New Covenant based on the righteousness of Jesus Christ. God did a miracle in that He brought back the representative of the Law, Moses himself; a representative of the prophets, the mightiest prophet of all, Elijah; along with His Son, whose face was as bright as the sun and who was clothed in light.
This was also a clash of two mindsets. In Peter we see the mindset of the old law, a need for carnal man to do something, to add to what God is doing and “seize the moment” by the enthusiasm of the flesh and enshrine that moment in a building project. In Peter’s mind, God dwells in temples made with hands. Everything that was of the law was typified in that building down there in Jerusalem. The very temple dedicated to God would be torn down in a few short years to demonstrate one thing—that the works of the flesh can not please Him. Only what is accomplished by the working of His Son will survive and remain–the very Son who created the heavens and the earth and all that was in them at the foundation of the world.
In this passage we see another great contrast between the Old and New Covenants. At one time the glory of God was seen on the face of Moses, but no more (read 2 Cor. 3:12-18). Even the glory that once lived in the temple in Jerusalem was gone when they lost the ark hundreds of years earlier during Babylonian invasion. But here we see the glory of the Father resting not on Moses or Elijah, but on His own Son. It was not only seen on the face of Jesus, but His whole body, signifying that God is only pleased with the leading and the works of His Son.
So what is man’s part in the New Covenant? To listen to and obey the Spirit of His Son whom He sent to take His place on earth: “Hear you Him!” It is not to listen to your own flesh, even if that flesh is inspired to do something that you read in the Bible!
Austin-Sparks said it so well,
We talk about our motives, and we say, “Our motive was right!” We talk about our conscientiousness, we talk about our intentions; but you and I do not know what lies behind what we call our good motives. There is a deceitfulness about this human heart that defies our greatest attempt at tracking it down, and we shall never do it…. Here is where the church has become such a confused thing, and such a tragedy; for the prevailing idea is that if you give yourself over to God He will take you up and use you: “Bring over your humanity and consecrate it to the Lord! Consecrate your old man to the Lord, and go out and serve the Lord, with a consecrated old man!” It is utterly contrary to the teaching of God’s Word. The result is that in the work of God all the world over you have people serving the Lord in the energy of the flesh, in the reasoning of the flesh, in the emotions of the flesh. Meet them, counter them, frustrate them, and you meet something evil; you meet with a fight, a division, a schism, a scattering, and wholesale resignations.
Do you see what a havoc the enemy can make in that which is called the church, because people with best intentions and purest motives have come to serve the Lord with all their own intelligence, their own strength, and their own emotion? They have not seen that God has closed the door to the old creation, and that God’s attitude is this: “The only thing that can satisfy Me, that can serve Me is My Son, and if you are going to come into My service, He has to be the energy of everything, the Life of everything, the Wisdom of everything!” He has to be the governing, ruling reality in everything. It is not to be a matter of your impulses, but of His urgings and leadings by the Holy Spirit; not your sitting down to reason out what it would be good to do for the Lord, what ought to be done, what needs to be done, but what He shows you, nothing more… You and I must not bring over our old creation and give it to God, expecting God to use it. God begins with birth. The church of the firstborn is something quite new, and it comes out of a death. That death is the death of an old creation, and the resurrection is of something that is not the resuscitation of an old creation, but the resurrection of something wholly of God. ~ By T. Austin-Sparks from: The Church of the Firstborn – Chapter 1
Matthew’s account above continues, “And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, ‘Arise, and be not afraid.’ And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, except Jesus only.” They heard the voice of God and it brought all their carnal thoughts and imaginations to a halt. If everybody who calls themselves Christian could hear the voice of the Spirit speaking to them, we would quit looking to men. “And… they saw Jesus only!” What a difference it would make in the church. We need a godly fear in the hearts of believers so they will not touch what God is doing as Uzzah did that fateful day (see 2 Chronicles ch. 13). Death is in the hand of carnal man. Everything he touches dies. But here Jesus touched the disciples and something miraculous happened. Where they saw Moses and Elijah and Jesus before, now they saw only Jesus.
Dear saints of God, let us be hungry for Christ and His works and as persistent as those Greeks who were not content with meeting the apostles of Christ. They did not want a mere representation of Him. They wanted the real thing!
And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired of him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip came and told Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. (John 12:20-23 KJ2000- emphasis added)
May Christ be glorified in us as we seek Jesus and only do the works we see Him doing. Amen.