Have you ever shared something important with a friend because you needed affirmation, and instead of affirmation, they rejected you for it? The very thing you were afraid of – that they would not like the thing you shared – happened – and it distorted the relationship? Perhaps you’ve been working to build up trust, and then when you feel like you know them well enough to share the thing that is so deeply personal for you, rather than affirming you, they reject, or rebuke you for it?
That’s what happened to Jesus. By the time we get to Luke 9, Jesus has been with his disciples sufficiently long that he should be able to trust them. He’s been teaching them about the kingdom of God, about what true righteousness is, about what God wants, and most importantly, he’s been showing them who he is.
He did that through his teaching and his miracles. And he did that through miracles that nobody else could do, like speaking to the storms on the Sea of Galilee - and they obeyed him!!! But his disciples didn’t really know who he was.
They guessed that he was the Christ – the Messiah – the one who came to save Israel. But they interpreted it in political categories; they didn’t realise he came to save – not just Israel – but the world – from a deeper bondage, the bondage to sin. And so, when he told them, when he told them what he had to do, they didn’t believe it.
Jesus said, ‘I’m going to go to Jerusalem and die!’. Peter audaciously pulled Jesus to the side and rebuked him. Peter not only misunderstands who Jesus is – Peter misunderstands HOW to listen to Jesus. But God loves us enough to move us into a position where we can hear him well.
And so, in our text today, there are two things that are going on: God the Father sends two voices to encourage Jesus, to give him the encouragement his disciples should have. And the Father also gets Peter’s attention and tells him to shut up and listen to Jesus.
In Luke 9:28-36, there are two big things going on in this text. God the Father is speaking to two different audiences. First, he’s speaking to his Son about his Son through the law and prophets. Second, he’s speaking to the disciples about his Son about how His Son speaks.
The first part of this is involves Moses and Elijah talking to Jesus. In Luke 9:30 we read that
And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
So God sent Moses and Elijah to confirm to Jesus that He is the promised one, that He is doing the right thing, that even though the disciples didn’t get it … Jesus is heading the right direction. These words of affirmation from the law and the prophets wash away whatever questions of doubt tried to attack Jesus after the silly things Peter said.
This is what we call the hermeneutic key of scripture. The word hermeneutic describes how we interpret scripture. Hermeneutics – approaches to biblical interpretation – provides a way to get to the meaning of scripture. We may have questions about the meaning of pats of the Old Testament. But in Luke 24:27, Jesus gives us the hermeneutic key:
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
Thus, the Law and the Prophets point to Jesus; the main theme in the Old Testament is the promise of God’s deliver. To do this, to point Jesus, the Old Testament speaks in different ways at different times. An example from the Law is Leviticus 16.15
Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat.
The point – the sin sacrifice was a picture pointing to Jesus; He is the sin offering for the people. And in Isaiah 53:4-5 we read this:
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
The point: the suffering servant described in Isaiah 53 is Jesus; He is the substitute for the people.
The Law and the Prophets show up and encourage Jesus – YES! You are the one that was promised. You are the one the law pointed to. You are the one the prophets pointed to. So this first conversation happens to encourage Jesus, as he is turning to face his entrance, arrest, trial, death, burial, and resurrection in Jerusalem, the law the prophets show up to talk to Jesus about Jesus.
The second conversation occurs between God the Father and the disciples.
In Luke 9:32, we read that rather than listening in on this most amazing conversation, Peter and th other disciples were sleeping. We’re just like this: we are sleeping when we should be paying attention.
And then in Luke 9:33, Peter proposes a tent-making operation to memorialise the moment. We’re just like this: we react religiously rather than relationally. We want to build a shrine; God wants to build a relationship with us. We want to do something for God; God wants us to listen to him. Religion will not get us where want to go.
But then in Luke 9:34, we read that as he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. This is beautiful: Peter was talking when he should have been listening. Peter was giving when he should have been receiving. Rather than punishing him or rebuking him, God shows up with his presence; God gives him grace.
God’s grace overwhelms our mistakes.
But it’s what happens in the cloud that is the main point. This is the second conversation, and it’s brief and amazing: In Luke 9:35, God the Father speaks, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” God wants the disciples to do what they were NOT doing when Jesus told them he had to go to Jerusalem to die.
So here’s what we do with this:
1. First, listen to what God has spoken in scripture about Jesus. The law and the prophets all point to Jesus. And the Father himself makes clear: This is my beloved Son. This is the main poinit of the Bible - gettin Jesus right is the most important thing you can do.
2. Second, listen to what Jesus has to say about Jesus. And what did Jesus say? He confirms, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me’ (John 14:6). No one can get to the Father except through Jesus. Why? No one else is Who He is, no one else has done what He has done; no one else deals with the fundamental issue separating people from God and brings us safely home to the Father.
3. Third, surround yourself with voices that affirm God’s calling in your life. It is too easy for us to be defined by words, voices, and narratives completely out of sync with what God says about. Even Jesus had to go up on the mountain to leave the distracting words of Peter and the disciples to be encouraged by the Law and the Prophets through Moses and Elijah.
As you go through life, you will encounter and hear many voices that distract, discourage, and attempt to detour your life. Don’t give in to it. Find those voices of encouragement, discover the voices of faith, destiny, and encouragement to help you stay focused on God’s mission. The author of Hebrews gives all of us an important instruction:
Encourage one another daily! Hebrews 3.13
LIFE IS TOO SHORT to be surrounded by negative voices. be encouraged by what God the Father has spoken about Jesus, what Jesus has confirmed about Jesus, and surround yourself with voices of encouragement. You can win in life, you can win this week, you can win Today.