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There is something significant about Moses and Elijah and their disappearing act on the Mount of Transfiguration.

There is a denomination which is nicknamed “Jesus Only”.

Their baptismal formula excludes Father, Son, and Holy Ghost and the baptizer says, “I baptize you in Jesus name.”

They derive their authority from Acts 2:38 where Peter tells the crowd to be baptized in Jesus name and you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

I find it incredibly narrow-minded to build a doctrine—or in this case an entire denomination—on a single verse of scripture.

But the Lord has permitted them to exist along with the 39k other denominations, so who am I to judge? Right?

I have titled this message with a nod to their nickname without necessarily affirming their beliefs.

Jesus Only.

February 19, 2023 in the liturgical calendar marks Transfiguration Sunday commemorating the event of the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain with Peter, James and John in observance.

This event in the life of Jesus has much to teach us if we will just listen to all that the Holy Spirit reveals in the gospel account.

2 And he was transfigured before them,
and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.
3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. …
5 He (Peter) was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them,
and a voice from the cloud said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” …
8 And when they lifted up their eyes,
they saw no one but Jesus only.
Mat 17:2-3, 5, 8

The word transfigured in this passage is the Greek word metamorphosis.

That is the word we use when talking about a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.

The change is so dramatic that there is no similarity between what was and what is.

The butterfly has zero resemblance to the caterpillar from which it came.

Jesus’ face was so bright it shone like the sun—too bright to look at directly.

The disciples were being confronted with the glory of God in the person of Jesus.

This was an example of what Jesus had told Philip.

Jesus said to him,
“Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
John 14:9

We know from this verse that one of the purposes of Jesus’ ministry on earth was to reveal the true nature of the Father.

Since that is true, anything we believe about God which doesn’t line up with the revelation we have of Jesus should be held suspect.

We are given a hint of this in the transfiguration story.

As Jesus was being changed, there appeared Moses and Elijah.

These two boys have an interesting story in relation to this appearance.

It was through Moses that the law came into being and Elijah represents all the prophets.

So we have the representatives of the law and the prophets standing with Jesus.

Before the transfiguration, Jesus makes an interesting observation concerning the Law and the Prophets.

“The Law and the Prophets were until John;
since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached,
and everyone forces his way into it.”
Luke 16:16

The law and the prophets were UNTIL John.

When John the Baptist came on the scene, everything began to change as regards God’s plan for man’s salvation.

This is an important point for us to understand when trying to make sense of the Bible.

Our Bible is divided into two distinct parts called the OT and the NT.

And we have been led to believe that is the correct way of seeing this collection of books.

However, as we begin to read and study this anthology, we find there is more to it than a simple division between old and new.

The four gospels actually reveal a transitional period between the two parts.

Jesus was a part of the old as He was bringing in the new.

As we saw last time, Jesus said He came to complete the law and the prophets.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets;
I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
Mat 5:17

God gives us a hint of that with this event we know as the transfiguration.

Peter is beside himself with excitement at seeing all this, and he is just jabbering away as he always did.

He (Peter) was still speaking when, behold,
a bright cloud overshadowed them,
and a voice from the cloud said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
Matt. 17:5

The record shows that Peter wanted to set up camp around this experience and keep it for just his little group.

Had he succeeded in his quest we would have had the first denomination of separation among believers, as the others were still down at the bottom of the mountain.

Thankfully, though, God interrupted him in his excitement.

The cloud overshadowed them and they heard a voice saying,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.”

When they were able to see again, they saw Jesus only.

Moses and Elijah were gone.

Just Jesus.

No law.

No prophet.


Listen to Him.

Am I making too much of this?

Remember, the Law and the Prophets saw the end of their usefulness with the arrival of John the Baptist.

“The Law and the Prophets were until John;
since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached,
and everyone forces his way into it.”
Luke 16:16

And since that time there is now good news being preached.

It is the good news of the kingdom of God.

What is it about the kingdom of God that makes it good news?

What is the kingdom of God?

What is a kingdom?

A kingdom is simply the realm or area over which a king rules—that is, a king’s domain.

Therefore, the kingdom of God is the area over which God rules.

With few exceptions, most Christians believe that God is the sovereign ruler of the universe which He created.

While that is true, I want us to go into a little more detail than that, because both Jesus and Paul also did.

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees,
when the kingdom of God should come,
he answered them and said,
The kingdom of God does not come with observation:
Neither shall they say,
Look here! or, look there!
because the kingdom of God is within you.
Luk 17:20-21

The Pharisees, with their typical focus on outward things, were looking for some physical manifestation of the kingdom of God.

The text doesn’t say, but it was probably things like outward showiness, fancy robes, big buildings, special people, etc.

But Jesus said the kingdom of God is not something to be observed with the natural eye.

There are no borders, buildings, or big-name people.

The kingdom of God—the place where God reigns—is within us.

And, according to this statement of Jesus, it is not limited to being within only a special people.

It doesn’t just belong to those who are saved or born again.

Therefore, if Jesus was speaking the truth about the kingdom of God, then we understand that it is all around us and within us.

It is within the person sitting next to you in church as well as within the person who skipped church today as well as those who don’t ever attend church—including those who hate the church.

I know that is a tough pill for many to swallow, but if Jesus could say that about the Pharisees who opposed everything about Jesus and His teachings, then we should probably broaden our perspective as to the limitations of God’s kingdom.

Coming from a naturalistic mindset is also the idea of what a kingdom is about.

In the natural realm we know that a king sets the rules for what it takes to be a part of his kingdom.

Our understanding of the Middle Ages when kings ruled an area, shows us that they had specific rules and regulations which everyone was to obey.

Disobedience brought swift and sometimes deadly punishment.

The idea of strict obedience has been brought over into Christianity as people establish their particular rules for what it means to be a Christian.

Having been a member of a multitude of different Christian clubs has shown me that each club has its own set of rules for acceptable membership.

All of them base their rules on something they have found in the Bible which they believe makes them a better Christian.

Some even go so far as to believe that anyone outside their group who does not follow their set of rules cannot make it into heaven.

However, the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul tells us that the kingdom of God is not about rules and regulations.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking
but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Rom 14:17

The kingdom of God is not about rules and regulations.

The entire 14th chapter of Romans is talking about how we should not exclude anyone because of what they allow in their life, and this verse sums up what Paul has been saying.

The kingdom of God is not about our outward behavior, but about our life within.

And yet it continues to be extremely difficult for us to let go of the idea that Jesus came to correct our behavior.

We see the word “righteousness” in that verse, and we immediately go to the type of righteousness which the Pharisees demanded—outward performance standards.

God showed us in the transfiguration of Jesus that rules and regulations were passing away as a means of being right with Him.

When the disciples looked up, they saw no one but Jesus only, and the Father said, “Listen to Him.”

Yes, if you try to pick and choose which verses to emphasize you can find some rules and regulations that Jesus seemed to have given.

However, taking everything into consideration, we find that His emphasis was on the heart of man, what was on the inside.

All change comes from within, not by self effort.

Our focus should be on Jesus and who He is.

When we can learn to do that, to make that a part of our life beyond Sunday mornings, we will also experience a transformation—a metamorphosis—in our being.

And we all, with unveiled face,
beholding the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image
from one degree of glory to another.
For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2Co 3:18

It is with an unveiled face—that is, no mask—no hiding behind a set of rules as our guarantee; but coming just as we are before the throne of grace—that we also will be transformed to be like Jesus only.

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