Sunday, 14th March 6.00 pm Order of Service

WELCOME

HYMN At the Name of Jesus

1 At the name of Jesus

every knee shall bow,

every tongue confess him

King of Glory now;

’tis the Father’s pleasure

we should call him Lord,

who, from the beginning,

was the mighty Word:

2 Humbled for a season,

to receive a name

from the lips of sinners

unto whom he came,

faithfully he bore it,

spotless to the last,

brought it back victorious

when from death he passed.

3 Bore it up triumphant

with its human light,

through all ranks of creatures

to the central height,

to the throne of Godhead,

to the Father’s breast;

filled it with the glory

of that perfect rest.

4 Surely, this Lord Jesus

shall return again,

with his Father’s glory,

with his angel train;

for all wreaths of empire

meet upon his brow,

and our hearts confess him

King of Glory now.

Caroline Maria Noel (1817-1877)

PRAYER

READING MATTHEW 17:1-13

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

10 The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”

11 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.

SERMON THE TRANSFIGURATION

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

Do we have any idea what it cost Jesus to leave that eternal bliss – that wonderful communion which existed between Himself and His Father and His Spirit? Not only so, but to put aside His divine glory for a time and become a real human being! The cost to the God-head was vast, yet, this is the wonder of the Incarnation.

And yet, strangely, when John comes to write his account of the life of Jesus, he doesn’t mention the extraordinary nature of Jesus’ birth, but he says in his introduction : (John 1:14) The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father.

So, John claims to have seen Jesus’ glory! But how did He see it, WHEN did he see it? We should also be aware that Peter, writing his second letter (2 Pet. 1:16-18) spoke about Jesus receiving power and glory from the Majestic glory – on the sacred mountain.

When else could this have taken place but in the incident recorded for us here in Matthew 17.1-13. This story is also recorded in Luke 9 and Mark 9. It is sometimes called the account of the Transfiguration – because Jesus appearance changed in front of them.

You see, when Jesus was born in that awful stable of old and lived in obscurity in Nazareth as a carpenter, he was actually hiding His true identity.

You will know, because I have quoted it before, the words of that great hymn which says: He hides Himself so wondrously as though there were no God And it is perhaps even more interesting that Jesus STILL hides Himself right up to today. He MUST be in hiding or else surely more people would see Him!

YET ONCE (JUST ONCE) Jesus was shown in His true colours – He was demonstrated to be Who He really was. And EVEN THEN. it was to ONLY THREE PEOPLE {namely James, John and Peter – two of whom wrote about it}.

And the question we must ask this evening is this; WHO (or WHAT) was hidden in that helpless babe in the manger in Bethlehem. Well. LOOK AND SEE in Matthew 17 when Jesus’ veil came down only momentarily.

Vs2 – we read that Jesus face shone – and his clothes were as white as the light. You may recall an Old Psalm – (PS. 104:2) Which tells US that GOD wraps himself in light as a garment.

Now, you will know that after Jesus’ Resurrection His glory would be unveiled for ALL to see. When He appeared in the garden to the guards at His tomb and to the women, we read (Matthew 28:3) that his appearance was like lightening, and his clothes were white as snow.

Some time later after He had ascended into heaven, he appeared to one SAUL who was on the road to Damascus, and when Paul later describes that momentous day in his life (in Acts 26:13)

************************************************

this is how he does SO : About noon… as I was on the road. I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. And Paul says that the cause for this extraordinary event was that JESUS came down to meet with him.

When Jesus’ glory is revealed, He is very bright indeed – in fact, it would be true to say that He is the Light of the world.

As we read on in Matthew 17, we see that Jesus was not alone in His shining state – there were two others with Him – namely Moses and Elijah. Now, you may wonder why it was that THOSE TWO appeared with Jesus – well, Moses represents the Law, while Elijah represents the Prophets. In other words those two sum up the whole of the OT, which looked forward to the Coming of Jesus.

But it is interesting that neither of them were strangers to shining and lights – we read in Exodus 34:30 that Moses face was radiant when he had been in the presence of the Lord. Likewise, Elijah, when the time came for him to throw off his mortal coil, it was no ordinary funeral for him! God came down with a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11) to bring Elijah home to heaven. Incidentally, Moses was one of only TWO other men who were taken from the earth in this direct way by God.

Now, Peter, as you can well imagine, was not slow to speak. He wanted to prolong this fantastic event and wanted to build little huts for the three great men to rest in. BUT NO – just as quickly as they appeared – Jesus’ two companions disappeared (as they had in life) – and God spoke and told the disciples to listen carefully to His Son!

Now, this was a very unusual incident – meant to strengthen the faith of the disciples, but Jesus told them (vs.9) not to breathe a word of it until after His resurrection.

Was it that Jesus didn’t want people to know that He was the Son of God? Well, I think that the key is in JESUS’ words until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.

Certainly, Jesus wanted people in the world to know Who He was – and when John wrote the Revelation, it is full of the glory of God and of Jesus – Rev 1:6 and 10:1 speak very clearly of Jesus’ face shining like the sun. Jesus certainly wants US to see His glory – in His great prayer in John 17 He specifically prays for US at the end of that prayer – and what does He want for US ?

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am. AND TO SEE MY GLORY, the glory you have given me….

What does Jesus want for YOU tonight? He wants YOU to catch something of His great glory – to see lying in a manger the Lord of Glory HIDING IN THAT INFANT. He wants you to catch that vision of glory – and He wants YOU, like Moses of old, to shine for Him. You are to be the means by which God’s glory will be made known to others. Are you looking to discover Jesus glory? Or are you ready to live in His light and spread that light all around you? I hope and pray that many of us ARE!!

PRAYER

Hymn Glory be to God the Father

1 Glory be to God the Father,

glory be to God the Son,

glory be to God the Spirit,

great I AM, the Three-in-One:

glory, glory,

while eternal ages run!

2 Glory be to him who loved us,

washed us from each guilty stain;

glory be to him who bought us,

made us kings with him to reign:

glory, glory,

to the Lamb who once was slain!

3 Glory to the King of angels,

glory to the church’s King,

glory to the King of nations,

heaven and earth, your praises bring:

glory, glory,

to the King of glory bring!

4 ‘Glory, blessing, praise eternal!’

Thus the choir of angels sings;

‘Honour, riches, power, dominion!’

Thus its praise creation brings:

glory, glory,

glory to the King of kings!

Horatius Bonar (1808–1889)

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