A Jesus Who is More
Pastor Duane Smets
August 6th, 2017
Church is a big deal. It provides and addresses a lot of real needs we have as people. There’s our need to belong and be part of something bigger than ourselves, our need for community. There’s our need to learn and be encouraged and feel spiritually connected, our need for God. There’s our need to do something that counts and to work with others to see our city changed with good news that impacts things like sex trafficking, gangs, drugs, violence, homelessness, racism and other forms of injustice.
As a church this year we are focusing on our third core value, “San Diego” which reflects our love for our city and the people of our city. So our theme this year has been “engage” and we’ve been studying the Gospel of Luke in the Bible together where we see Jesus engaging over and over again, with all different types of people in all different types of ways. And pretty much what we keep seeing again and again is that Jesus makes everything better.
When we read through the story of Jesus as Luke recounts the events and words He spoke, there is this question that kind of keeps coming up over and over again in various ways. Who is this Jesus? Who is this man? What is going on with this guy?
You’re reading along and listening and learning and Jesus keeps doing things that surprise you and make you ask again…”Wait, hold on, who is this Jesus?” And each time we find ourselves asking that question, both people back then and us today walk away thinking, “He’s more…He’s even more than I thought…He’s even better, He’s even greater, He’s even more powerful, more good, and more glorious than I even thought.”
So my sermon title for today is “A Jesus Who Is More”. The next section we’re reading through today in Luke is a section where we get to see the curtain pulled back a little bit and we get to see a little bit of the full glory of who Jesus really is and how the good things He does for people, people like us in cities like ours, comes from the shining brilliance of His goodness, grace, and glory.
Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. 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. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.
On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astonished at the majesty of God.
• Pastoral Declaration: This is the Word of the Lord.
• Congregational Response: Thanks Be To God.
• Pastoral Prayer
A Jesus Who Is More. More. Have you ever wondered or wished there was more? Have you ever thought to yourself, “man there’s got to be more to life than this”? Have you ever said, “You I just want more”?
C.S. Lewis, one of the greatest fantasy novelists of all time writing both The Chronicles of Narnia and what’s known as The Space Trilogy talked about why he loved fantasy and sci-fi and wrote these incredible stories. He said this,
“The sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret.
The longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation. And to be at last summoned inside would be both glory and honor beyond all our merits and the healing of that old ache.”
He says this in a little article he wrote titled, “The Weight of Glory.” His point is that we were made for more, that this world is just too small and too unsatisfying and that the more we are meant for is the glory of God.
What our text from Luke for today and its account teaches us is that the goodness and glory of God shines forth to us in the face of Jesus Christ. That’s what we’re talking about today. If there’s one thing I hope you’ll remember from today it’s that, “There’s More in Jesus” and I’ve got three points for us today which basically reflect three different ways you can look at this story, “Ghosts, Gods & Glory.” Sound fun?
Let's talk about ghosts. Anyone ever seen a ghost? I’ve never seen one. Always wanted to. One time I was flipping through the channels on TV and started watching this reality show called “Ghost Hunters”. They go into houses with all this equipment and stuff searching for ghosts. I got really excited. I think I watched like three or four episodes hoping to see a ghost, but never did.
It’s interesting. Our culture has actually become much more open to the paranormal and the spiritual. There are TV shows about mediums, psychics, angels, demons, magic and just the supernatural in general. I seriously can’t wait for the second season of Stranger Things to come out in October. Amen?
I’m bringing up ghosts today because that’s kind of what this story sounds like to me. I mean Jesus is up on this mountain, starts glowing and all of a sudden there are two other dudes who appear glowing next to Him. I’ve never seen a ghost but that’s kind of what they’re supposed to look like right?
Last week in the section of Luke that comes before this, Jesus asked His disciples who people thought He was, especially after doing this great miracle feeding over 5,000 people. What they said was people were thinking Jesus was John the Baptist, or Elijah or another dead prophet come back to life. People are not sure what to think of Jesus, they think maybe He’s a ghost.
There was actually this whole weird cult religion that got started after Jesus rose called Docetism and that basically what they believed. They thought Jesus was a ghost. They said He didn’t leave any footprints in the sand and that if you tried to touch Him your hand would go right through Him.
So when Elijah and Moses show up on this mountain standing, two of the greatest and most famous prophets who ever lived, it’s clear that they are not Jesus. Jesus is His own person. And there’s a key line Luke records for us which tells us that Jesus is something greater, something much much more than a ghost…a real person with a real mission He came to earth to accomplish.
Check it out with me, verse 30-31, “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.”
“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.”
His departure. Now just before this, Luke says eight days earlier, Jesus had just had this discussion with His disciples where He said in verse 22 that He was going to have to suffer and be killed and then be raised and then Jesus taught them about the salvation that comes through the cross. So it’s clear that this departure these guys who are shining in brilliant glory are talking about is about Jesus’ departure from life He would undergo on a cross in Jerusalem. And that tells us something, something extremely significant and important.
First, that Jesus wasn’t a ghost. He was a real human being, with a real body, with real blood that was shed on a cross. But even more than that, listen, that this messiah savior Son of God Christ who is clearly the crown and glory of heaven…would give Himself to death on a cross. Verse 35 says God chose Him for that task.
Here in this scene, we see Jesus as more, as He is, the glorious Son of God, but on the cross, we don’t see Him like that. He’s not glowing on the cross. He looks beat up and defeated. But it was in that moment when Jesus was in His most glorious moment, dying for sinners, taking on the wrath of God, bleeding for the healing of the world in order that everything might be made right again.
Some have said that God’s glory was hidden on the cross…that it is in the cleft of the cross where all the goodness, grace and mercy of God passes down to and over us. The cross was Jesus most glorious moment.
John Owen is a dead Puritan that I love and He wrote a book titled, “The Glory of Christ”. In it he says this,
“When the sun is under a total eclipse, he loseth nothing of his native beauty, light, and glory. He is still the same that he was from the beginning, — a “great light to rule the day.” To us he appears as a dark, useless meteor; but when he comes by his course to free himself from the lunar interposition, unto his proper aspect towards us, he manifests again his native light and glory.
So was it with the divine nature of Christ. He veiled the glory of it by the interposition of the flesh, or the assumption of our nature to be his own; he took the “form of a servant,” — of a person of mean and low degree. (And) as a poor, sorrowful, persecuted man, dying on the cross, (we) see him in all the infinite, untreated glories of the divine nature, manifesting themselves in his person. (It is there that we) behold his glory.”
Here’s our challenge. If I’m honest I think seeing something like Peter, James and John got to see here with Jesus all glowing brilliantly on a mountain is what I want. I think deep down there’s a lot of us who wish we could see or experience some sort of tangible proof like that which sort of irrefutably shows us that Jesus really is who He claims to be. I want to see some supernatural thing. I don’t want to see a cross.
Peter, James, and John didn’t either, that’s why they suggest building houses for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. They want to start building a royal divine castle. A Mount Olympus where the gods can dwell. Peter, James, and John weren’t interested in the conversation about departure. They weren’t interested in the way of the cross. They couldn’t see the glory in it.
You see the truth is that our greatest need isn’t to see something fantastic our greatest need is to see that we have a divine savior who gave up His life for us so that we could have more. We’re all sinners who have sold ourselves short of what we’re meant for. We want and we need more. And that’s why Jesus died so that we could experience the glory we long for. In being forgiven, in being made new, in being put in relationship with God we experience the goodness and glory of God. And it comes to us by the way of the cross. It’s the way of death, the way of dying to ourselves and receiving the new life Jesus purchased for us in His death and resurrection.
Today are you looking for answers in the mystical, in some spiritual experience and what God is really calling you to look at is His glory revealed for you in the cross? There is glory there. The glory we long for is hidden in the treasure chest of the cross. There is more in Jesus, more than we know, more than we could ever need.
Well, some people have looked at this story as about ghosts. Others have looked at it as a story about gods. So let’s transition and talk about that today in our second point, “Gods”.
Luke who wrote this was a Gentile. That means he didn’t grow up reading the Bible, knowing the stories of the Bible and seeing the world through the lens of the Bible like all the Jews who knew who Moses and Elijah were. As a Gentile, living in the Greco-Roman era of the first century the primary religious worldview was that there were many different gods you can worship…whether it be Zeus, Hermes, Apollo, Jupiter, Artemis…there were a bunch, each with stories where they came down earth, appeared and accomplished supernatural feats.
Most likely that’s how a first century non-Jew would see this story. Something similar happened in the book of Acts in the Bible when two preachers, Paul and Barnabas healed this cripple and they say, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men! Barnabas, they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker (Acts 14:11-12).”
“The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men! Barnabas, they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker (Acts 14:11-12).”
Now today, nobody worships Zeus or Hermes or any of the other gods of the Greek pantheon. But there are many different spiritual and religious beliefs and the dominant idea in our culture is that if you want to be spiritual that’s great, everyone is free to worship whatever god they want because all gods and belief systems are equally valuable and true and good. Am I right? I am.
So Jesus is standing there on this mountain, shining like the sun with two other dudes, all three of them looking like gods. But then something curious happens.
A cloud descends on the mountain, Moses and Elijah disappear, they see Jesus alone and then a voice speaks saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” The same voice and nearly the same words that came out of heaven from God the Father when Jesus was baptized.
Jesus goes down from the mountain heals this little boy and verse 43 says, “And all were astonished at the majesty of God.”
So what we have here is very clear presentation both from God the Father and Jesus the Son that Jesus is fully God and the only chosen one we should listen to and believe in.
But that’s not easy, is it? The disciples here, who were with Jesus day in and day out had trouble with it. Right before this all went down they had fallen asleep and sleepiness gets emphasized through the book as a sign of unbelief. In addition, when Jesus heals the little boy, his dad said the disciples couldn’t do it and Jesus gets upset at them in verse 41 calling them “faithless and twisted” and then says, “how long am I to be with you and bear with you.” Ouch!
You see what the text and this story does is put Jesus right in front of faces and challenges us to believe that He is more than we think. We’re confronted with a Jesus who isn’t just a god and a way but the God and the way. We’re directly called here by the voice of God from heaven to believe Jesus is His Son and the only one worth listening to. We’re not given much wiggle room here.
As I was thinking about this week I asked myself, why is it so hard for us? Why do we not like being told there’s only one?
I think it has something to do with our American individualism where we prize personal freedom and autonomy. We don’t like being told that there are limits and being told what to do and what to believe.
But I also think it’s because we inherently know that just being told to believe something just because it’s right isn’t the whole story. Something off with that. I think we instinctually know and feel that there is supposed to be more.
Here’s what someone said to me this week, “I spent 33 years (in), rules, rules, rules, legalistic behavior, and ultimately
“I spent 33 years (in), rules, rules, rules, legalistic behavior, and ultimately self-hatred brought on by the church, only to continue to fail each day. I found the church had made me a slave to the rules. I haven't been to church in 2 years and have gained more freedom in those two years than in the last 33 before it.”
I think what is missing, the more that we long for is relationship, to see that God is not just telling us to believe in and have His Son as our God because that is what is true and what He chose, so just obey…I think what we’re missing is seeing that God loves in and delights in His Son.
Those words, “this is my Son, my beloved Son” are powerful words. God loves in and delights in Jesus so much He can’t help but brag and call everyone to listen to Him and delight in and enjoy and that is found in Him and from Him.
The good news is that there is hope for us. The disciples didn’t get it at first. But this event had a powerful impact on them. Years later Peter ended up writing a couple books that got in the Bible. In one of them, he said this,
“We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain….you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” - 2 Peter 1:16-19
You see, Peter got it. He heard how much the Father delights in the Son and he began to listen and pay attention and when he did the light of the glory of God shone in his heart. It changed him and enabling him to move beyond foolishness and fear and become a strong confident witness to the goodness and glory of Jesus Christ.
The key is for us to listen. To pay attention and hear the truth and goodness of what Jesus offers to us. It is more. It’s the more. The more we long for and need.
So are you listening? Are you open to Jesus? Open to the possibility of Him actually being the answer, of Him being the good we need, of Him being the beloved Son of God.
The truth is everyone is listening. It’s just that there’s a lot of voices out there. The one we need to hear is the voice of God’s love given to us through Jesus His beloved Son. There’s only one God worth listening to. May God help us to hear His voice.
Well, we’ve got one last point for today, “Glory.”
We’ve been talking about glory throughout the sermon but we haven’t actually talked about what it is yet. The word glory literally means “weight” which communicates the immensity and vastness of it. Glory is ultimate. The sum of infinite goodness, power, peace, love, and justice.
Perhaps the clearest depiction of glory in the Bible comes from Exodus chapter 33. It’s this scene where Moses has just come down from Mount Sinai after receiving the ten commandments from God who literally penned them on stone with His own finger. The first two commandments are to have no other gods and to not make or worship any false gods.
Moses comes down the mountain, by the way with his face glowing, and he finds that God’s people have made a golden calf and are worshipping it… already breaking the first two commandments. Moses gets pissed and in frustration throws down the commandments breaking them and then he goes outside the camp to go pray and talk to God.
He says the people are a stiff necked people and then asks God what He’s going to do because Moses doesn’t know how to lead them. God answers and replies, “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.”
In response Moses says okay and then says this, Exodus 33:18, “Please show me your glory.”
Listen to God’s response.
“I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by." - Exodus 33:19-22
You see God’s glory is a big deal. God’s glory is His utter goodness, graciousness, mercy, and justice…the full weight of it.
Now back to our passage in Luke. Look at verse 32 again, “When they became fully awake they saw his (Jesus) glory.”
What God said no man could see and live, His glory is found in the face of Christ, the Son of God, Chosen to be the savior. The picture of Jesus in Luke 9 is one of Him in pure glory.
He has glory over death and the cross. He has greater glory than even Moses and Elijah. He has more glory than any other man who has ever lived as God’s Chosen one. And He has glory over Satan and his works of destruction in the minds and bodies of people when He heals this little boy with epilepsy.
Jesus is truly glorious. We are meant to see His glory and majesty…the more that is found in Him.
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, better known simply as Raphael is one of the world’s most famous painters who’s ever lived. His most famous and prized work was one that took him four years and he worked on it until died, “The Transfiguration.”
It’s an incredible work. Raphael was a church-paid artist and his painting of the story we’re looking at today captures so much of what was going on in the story. In the paintin, you see the sharp contrast between the light and the glory of Jesus and the darkness below where there is confusion and disagreement about who He is. As you continue looking at the painting your eye is drawn upward to a shining ball of light with Jesus there right in the center of it.
Our eyes are drawn in the painting to the place where the eyes of our hearts long to go, to see the glory of God in the face of Christ.
My favorite part of the painting however is the little boy.
Luke who was a medical doctor uses medical terminology describing how the boy would have a seizure, convulse, foam at the mouth and be left weak and tired afterward…clear signs of epilepsy. Yet Luke says it was a demon, which tells us that Satan and his demons can be at work in natural diseases and ailments of the body. Luke also tells it was this man’s only child, his only son. Jesus takes the son, casts out the demon, heals him and then gives him back to the Father.
The only hope this father and his only son had was to turn to the only Son of God, sent from the Father of heaven and earth. The reason this little boy is my favorite part of the painting is because I think the only way for us to truly see the glory of God in the face of Christ is to be like the little boy.
We are God the Father’s sons and daughters and we need the healing touch ofJesus's hand to restore us from all the things that have ailed us in this life. When we experience that touch, Jesus light shines into our hearts and we see His glory. That’s why the boy is bright in the painting.
God’s glory we learned is His immense love, grace, and mercy. To see it we have to experience mercy and grace for our sins and the sins done to us and through that we come to know that God really does love us no matter what.
You see, glory isn’t so much seeing a bright light, it’s experiencing the bright love of God for us as His sons and daughters. God loves us more than we could ever know. That more is found in Jesus. He’s a Jesus who is more.
Today, where are you in the painting? Are you one of the many people looking down or are you like the little boy, looking up and seeing the glory of Jesus? Oh how we need to see the glory of Jesus. All of what we are longing for is found in Him.
I’ll conclude with one last passage of Scripture from the Bible.
“God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” - 2 Corinthians 4:6
May God shine His light into your hearts today.
Ghosts, Gods, and Glory. Jesus is more than a ghost, He’s not just one of many gods, He’s the God and He is a glorious God full of love grace and truth.
We started out today talking about C.S. Lewis and His fantasy novels. In the novels Aslan the Lion is the hero and represents Jesus as the Lion of Judah. The children in the story are first introduced to Aslan by a talking beaver. Here’s what C.S. Lewis says,
“And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning — either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into the dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside.”
Jesus is the more we long for and need. He is the glory of God.
Let’s all stand and prepare to respond. We do that each week here by coming to one of these tables throughout the room where we take a piece of bread as Jesus' perfect life and dip in the wine or the juice as His blood shed on the cross for us.
Today, let’s bask in the glory of who Jesus is and what He has done for us.